Press Freedom groups dismayed by seizure of reporter’s notes

Several organizations, including News Media Canada, are dismayed by the recent seizure of notes from Bill Sawchuk, a longtime reporter in St. Catharines, Ont., by the Niagara Region municipal government.

According to a statement by the Canadian Association of Journalists, municipality officials confiscated Sawchuk's notes and equipment during an in-camera session of council, and even called the police, after accusations surfaced that the reporter may have recorded an in-camera session.

Bill Sawchuk left his laptop and notes in the council chamber when the room was cleared for the in-camera session. He was not secretly recording the proceedings that followed, but officials acted swiftly on the accusation—and forced him to leave the premises, apparently on threat of police action, when he attempted to return to the chamber to continue reporting.

The chief administrative officer of the Niagara Region issued a public apology for the inconvenience caused to a journalist by the seizure of his computer and notes during Thursday night’s council meeting.