Photo Credit:  St. Catharines Standard/Twitter

In a scene reminiscent of the Soviet-era, a St. Catharines Standard reporter was forcibly removed and had his notes and laptop illegally seized while attending a meeting at Niagara Region headquarters.

When the meeting went into a closed session, reporter Bill Sawchuk as with other members of the public left the Chambers leaving his notes and laptop behind.  Rather than being invited back in, the reporter was confronted by a Regional official who alleged that Mr. Sawchuk had been secretly recording the in-camera proceedings and informed them they had taken his laptop.

“I saw some Niagara Regional Police officers enter the building. I asked Carter if I could at least go back into the chamber and get my notes and he said ‘No, you have to leave the premises immediately and if you have a problem with that you can deal with these two gentlemen.’ At that point, I had no choice but to leave.”

With all that is happening at the Region with a Regional Council Member violating the Code of Conduct, the call for a supervisor and a provincial audit of the NPCA, lawsuits against concerned citizens and now bullying and intimidation of the press, one begins to question how all these elected officials are even hopeful of returning to their seats after the 2018 Municipal election.

Needless to say, the powers granted to Regional Council and those in employ of the Region do not include extrajudicial seizure of property.  If the allegation of there being a “a small recording device” being left in the chamber is true, then this is a matter for the police to investigate and seize any evidence.

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