Monday, October 23, 2006

Harper's firing squad: PM cans photographer

Promise me one thing, willya?
Make me look pretty?

"PM 'critic' sent packing: Photographer bumped from job at 24 Sussex; Was supposed to shoot for Mercer's TV comedy" [Susan Delacourt, Toronto Star]
An Ottawa photographer was hired, then un-hired to work with TV comedian Rick Mercer in a sketch at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's residence. He was let go from the assignment, he was told, because he'd been "critical" of Harper. The photographer in question, Dave Chan, also worked for Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and the incident revives the ongoing tension over how Harper's office has handled journalists seen as unfriendly to the Conservative government.
[...] Chan, an award-winning freelance photographer and husband of Martin's former press secretary Melanie Gruer, was hired by Mercer's crew to assist in a shoot at 24 Sussex Saturday morning.
But an hour or so after he got the call on Friday evening, Chan got another call from Mercer's producer, John Marshall, and was told that Dimitri Soudas, Harper's press secretary, had vetoed his presence on the assignment. Chan was told the Prime Minister's Office flatly objected to him as a critic of Harper.
[...] Soudas would neither confirm nor deny on the record that he'd passed that message along to the Mercer show. Instead, Soudas sent an email on Saturday evening, simply saying: "The Prime Minister had a great time with Rick today. We agreed to provide many pictures to the Rick Mercer Report and we'll be doing so on Monday (today)."
The inference, apparently, is that Chan's photos weren't needed because the PMO would supply its own. This issue, in fact, was at the root of an earlier dispute with the press gallery — the PMO's bid to supply its own photos for use in the media rather than allowing photojournalists to take them.
[...] Chan, who does work for all the major national papers and is a member of the press gallery, says he is not a member of the Liberal party and has never been blacklisted for participation in an assignment in his 20 years as a photojournalist. He doesn't see how his experience disqualified him from working with Mercer on the weekend.
Now this is interesting...
Last summer, Chan was quoted in a newspaper report about Harper's emergency detour from Paris to Cyprus, carried out so the government plane could be used to rescue Canadian citizens who had been evacuated from war-torn Lebanon.
Harper removed all media from the plane but kept a seat for his official photographer. Chan was quoted as saying that he would not have done the same in that position.
"If I had an option, I would have given up my seat for one of the evacuees," Chan told The Globe and Mail in July. "I could have got back from Paris easily."
Et tu, Mercer?
Mercer said immediately afterward that he wouldn't respond to the shot, but then added, in an email: "Never heckle a comedian."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing one must learn when one is a photographer: The only talking you do is to set up the shot, otherwise you shut up and push the button. They don't pay you to run the world.

11/08/2006 9:32 AM  

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