By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
An independent reporter charged Thursday by the RCMP in New Brunswick allegedly rejected the force’s offer to become a paid informant.
Miles Howe, a reporter with the Halifax Media co-op, was released late Thursday afternoon from the Codiac RCMP detachment after he was arrested on Salmon River Rd. where RCMP officers were restricting access to an area under shale gas exploration.
Howe faces charges of uttering threats and obstructing justice stemming from an incident that occurred June 21 during an anti-shale gas protest near Elsipogtog, a Mi’kmaq community in northern New Brunswick.
Howe, however, said he was approached by the RCMP on June 30 to become a paid informant and pass information to the police on the people he had been reporting on for weeks.
Howe said they told him “we could compensate you financially,” but they didn’t present a specific dollar figure.
“The funny thing about this situation is that one week ago they were offering me money to inform for them and now they are charging me with an incident that allegedly occurred two weeks ago,” said Howe.
RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Chantal Farrah said in an email the RCMP couldn’t talk about informants and referenced a Supreme Court ruling.
“Given the broad scope of informer privilege I would have no knowledge of any informant relationship, in this case or any others, nor would the RCMP be able to comment on such a topic,” said Farrah. “The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the importance of protecting this police officer/informant relationship.”
Levi has been charged with obstructing a peace officer. He was charged the same day Howe was arrested. Levi was informed he was being charged at 2 p.m. Thursday during a meeting with his probation officer.
Howe was arrested at 12:34 p.m.
The charges against both men are linked to a protest that occurred on June 21 along Hwy. 126.
The RCMP allege that Levi helped Howe evade arrest during the heated protest.
The RCMP also allege that Levi told protesters to “stand their ground,” according to Levi’s information sheet.
Sgt. Richard Bernard, who arrested Howe Thursday, is the main source of the allegations.
“On the side of the roadway, a man yelled, ‘Bernard you’re going to pay for this,” the information sheet alleges. “Sgt. Bernard looked over and saw a slim built man, with a black ball cap that had the word ‘dad’ on it.”
The information sheet alleges that Bernard tried to arrest the man, but he escaped his grasp and eventually fled in Levi’s truck.
None of these allegations have been proven in court.
“To me the fact Levi was charged (Thursday), an hour and a half after I was charged, suggests an intent to remove a capable man (Levi) from his appointed duties, rather than a desire to uphold the law,” said Howe.
Levi is being held in custody over the weekend for allegedly breaking his probation. He has a scheduled court date Monday.