Timeline of events around the Mounties spying on 2 journalists
A team of Mounties conducted surveillance on 2 La Presse reporters, without authorization
Here's a timeline of events related to the RCMP's unauthorized surveillance of two Ottawa journalists, and the aftermath:
Jan. 21, 2004 — RCMP officers raid Ottawa journalist Juliet O'Neill's home in an attempt to identify the leak of secret documents pertaining to the Maher Arar case. Police seize notebooks, files, hard drives and other materials.
October 2006 — An Ontario Superior Court judge strikes down Section 4 of the Security of Information Act, used as the basis for the raid, as "unconstitutionally vague" and an infringement of freedom of expression. The RCMP is forced to rewrite the rules governing the investigation of leaks to journalists, adding more supervision.
June 2007 — A secret document, created in 2003 by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) about a 2000 conversation involving alleged terrorist Adil Charkaoui, is leaked to La Presse reporters, who then publish a story.
July 2007 — The director of CSIS complains about the leak to the RCMP, which then begins an investigation, dubbed Project Standard, into possible violations of the Security of Information Act. The team quickly discovers that the document was available in about 15 other departments, and to thousands of CSIS employees.
August 2007 — A team of RCMP officers investigating the leak carries out physical surveillance of La Presse reporters Joel-Denis Bellavance and Gilles Toupin for nine days in Ottawa without seeking the required permission from Bob Paulson, then the acting assistant commissioner in charge of national security criminal investigations.
Aug. 24, 2007 — The team applies for permission after the fact to conduct the surveillance, and is denied, with the specific direction that no surveillance or interviews are to be initiated without a prior authorization from national headquarters. The team does not reveal that surveillance has been carried out for nine days' of surveillance. Paulson puts his decision in writing and circulates it.
Aug. 25, 2007 — The team makes a "verbal appeal" to Paulson to reverse his decision, but he does not.
Aug. 31, 2007 — The team comes back with a more comprehensive operational plan, again asking for permission to physically watch the two journalists to see whether they would meet with their source. For the first time, though, the team divulges to Paulson that surveillance was conducted earlier in the month. Paulson issues a two-page "decision" that reprimands the group for conducting surveillance without authority and contrary to policy. No other sanction is applied.
2008 — Sometime during the year, the team comes back to again ask for permission to physically spy on the journalists, and to get a warrant to record what telephone numbers they were calling. Paulson denies permission to apply for the warrant but gives permission for physical surveillance for a "limited period." The team declines to carry out any surveillance.
Aug. 4, 2011 — Another secret document, related to the case of Abfousian Abdelrazik, a Sudanese-Canadian who was denied help from the Canadian government to return to Canada from Sudan, is leaked to La Presse, which runs a front-page story. Mounties launch another investigation.
2014 — Project Standard is shut down without identifying the source of the 2007 leak.
November 2015 — Court documents in a civil case brought by Abdelrazik against the federal government reveal RCMP officers planned to conduct surveillance on two La Presse journalists. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau orders an investigation.
Fall 2015 — Paulson, now commissioner of the RCMP, arranges a meeting with La Presse's Bellavance, informing him of the surveillance operation and apologizing. But Paulson does not reveal the surveillance was unauthorized, nor does he reveal that in 2008 he did authorize limited surveillance of the journalist.
May 18, 2016 — CBC News for the first time reveals the details of the unauthorized surveillance of the two La Presse journalists, drawing on a document obtained through the Access to Information Act. Bellavance reveals his private meeting with Paulson in the fall of 2015. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair calls for a public inquiry.