The Hamilton Police Service Board plans to ban recording of its public meetings. Credit: HANDOUT / Hamilton Police Service Board

Hamilton’s Police Service Board held a secret Governance Committee meeting on March 13, 2024, the latest in a series of open meeting law violations.

During the secret meeting, the Board debated an overhaul of its procedural bylaw and policies in preparation for the April 1 enactment of Ontario’s new Community Safety and Police Act (CPSA). The CPSA replaces the Police Services Act.

The CPSA’s new regulations impose greater transparency requirements upon police boards, including decreasing the reasons police boards can go into closed session.

Board Chair Pat Mandy, provincial appointee Member Geordie Elms, and Ward 7 Councillor Esther Pauls attended the Governance meeting.

During the secret meeting, those present approved banning recording of public meetings of the Board and its committee.

The new Police Board procedural bylaw states, “the use of recording equipment or any other device used for recording the proceedings of a meeting by members of the public, including the news
media, may be permitted and shall be subject to the approval and/or direction of the Chair unless otherwise decided by the board.”

The Board has not posted public posted any recording of the meeting, nor disclosed if any members dissented when voting for the recording ban.

Section 35 of the Police Services Act requires that Police Board meetings be open to the public. This includes Board meetings self-designated as “committees.”

Ban Follows TPR Streaming a Meeting the Police Board Tried to Close to Public

On February 12, 2024, the Hamilton Police Board announced it was closing its February 13 budget meeting to the public.

On Feb 13, TPR set up video streaming equipment hours before the meeting and streamed the proceedings.

TPR‘s defiance forced the Board to open the meeting room to the public.

Hamilton Police Board’s Pattern of Secret Meetings Contrary to Open Meeting Laws

This latest secret meeting, and the plan to ban recording of public meetings, fit into pattern of open meeting violations in recent years.

On September 2, 2021, the Police Board declared an emergency and held a secret meeting. The emergency – a vote to make the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a holiday for Hamilton Police Service employees. The Board refused to release the meeting agenda.

In December 2021, when TPR was trying to get a copy of the September meeting agenda, TPR learned the Stevenson created a GMail account that was used by the Police Board, contrary to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commission expressed concern about the use of GMail. The Board claimed the GMail account was only used once.

On January 24, 2022, the Board claimed it had technical issues and did not livestream its meeting. The meeting was closed to the public due to COVID.

On January 25, 2022, the Board Chair Mandy issued a statement saying the Board “remains committed to providing continued transparency and ensuring the public’s access to their meetings.”

On January 27, 2022, the Board held a secret governance committee meeting.

The Board claims because it eventually discloses it secret meetings, they are not violating open meeting laws.

Police Board Ratification Vote on Recording Ban This Thursday

The Police Board will meet on Thursday to ratify the proposed recording ban.

The meeting begins at 1:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Hamilton City Hall.

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Published: March 24, 2024
Last edited: March 24, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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2 replies on “Hamilton Police Board Proposes Ban on Recording Public Meetings”

  1. They say that they are not violating the open meeting laws because they eventually disclose the secret meetings but how does the public know for sure what was actually discussed! If they have nothing to hide, why is it a secret meeting?

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