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Confusion, bickering cloud of Senate committee's planned Norman inquiry

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman attends the Royal Canadian Navy Change of Command ceremony in Halifax on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Confusion and partisan bickering are clouding the fate of a Senate committee's plan to conduct an inquiry into the suspension and failed prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman as the clock ticks down to the start of summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

OTTAWA — Confusion and partisan bickering are clouding a Senate committee’s plan to conduct an inquiry into the suspension and failed prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais this morning accused Sen. Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the upper chamber, of all but killing the study by refusing to let the Senate defence committee sit into the summer.

Dagenais sponsored a motion at the committee to study the circumstances that led to Norman’s suspension and breach-of-trust charge, which prosecutors stayed last month, and report back to the Senate by Aug. 1.

But Harder’s office says he has yet to receive a written request for an extension, which is required by the Senate’s rules.

The chair of the committee, Independent Sen. Gwen Boniface, meanwhile, says she signed such a letter Wednesday and it’s being sent around to the vice-chairs for their signatures.

The Senate as a whole can also permit the committee to sit into the summer, but Dagenais says he will not pursue that path because he believes most of the senators appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who make up the majority in the red chamber, will oppose it.

The Canadian Press