Bail hearing in RCMP secrets case to conclude with final submissions

OTTAWA — Final submissions will be made Friday at a bail hearing for Cameron Jay Ortis, a senior RCMP official accused of breaching Canada's official-secrets law.

Ortis, 47, is charged with violating the Security of Information Act and breach of trust for allegedly trying to disclose classified information to an unspecified foreign entity. 

He faces a total of seven counts under various provisions, dating from Jan. 1, 2015, through to Sept. 12 of this year.

Unlike the case for many criminal offences, Ortis has the burden of demonstrating why he should be freed on bail while he awaits trial on the secrets-law charges.

Evidence at the bail hearing, which began Thursday and should conclude Friday, is subject to a publication ban. Such bans are routine for bail hearings, where the Crown gets to present a great deal of evidence with minimal reply from the defence.

Ortis could know as early as Friday afternoon whether he will be released.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has said the allegations against Ortis are extremely unsettling, noting he had access to intelligence from domestic and international allies.

Lucki told a news conference last month that investigators came across documents during a joint investigation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation that led the Mounties to believe there could be some kind of "internal corruption."

The commissioner said Ortis had a valid Top Secret clearance — which must be renewed every five years — but he had not undergone a polygraph exam, a test that measures physiological signs such as heart rate and breathing that might indicate deception.

It turns out the RCMP does not use the polygraph for security clearances, even though a 2014 federal standard requires a lie-detector test for the highest security category, known as enhanced Top Secret.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2019.

The Canadian Press