Last evening, during a meeting of Regional Council, Council elected to go into closed session to discuss a matter related to an identifiable individual and receive legal advice as permitted by the Municipal Act.
During the closed session portion of the meeting, two electronic devices were located on the media table. Both devices were “on” and one appeared to be recording. Making unauthorized recordings of closed sessions is not permitted.
In order to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the closed session where an identifiable individual and legal advice was being discussed, the meeting was halted, the devices were photographed and the Niagara Regional Police Service was called.
On-site security and staff took possession of the two electronic devices from the area with the intention of turning them over to the police for investigation.
After receiving assurances from the St. Catharines Standard’s legal counsel that their journalist, Bill Sawchuk, was not recording the closed session, the one device was returned. Niagara Region apologizes for this inconvenience caused to Mr. Sawchuk.
The Region takes this matter very seriously and will be reviewing its policy and protocols in order to prevent further incidents. As part of this review, the Region will be inviting local media to participate in this process.
As of this afternoon, Niagara Region is planning to contact the Niagara Regional Police Service to take possession of the first device.
Daryl Barnhart, APR