Stephen Harper’s northern tour ends with tussle between staff and a reporter

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter

Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded his six day tour of the north on Friday, with a press conference at the Raglan Mine in Quebec that didn't go as planned.

According to reports, an accredited press gallery journalist got into a shoving match with a PMO staffer, after he was told that he couldn't ask the prime minister a question.

Here's how it all went down, as explained by the Canadian Press:

Li Xue Jiang of the People's Daily, China's largest newspaper, has been following the week-long tour.

The Prime Minister's Office limits the number of questions during public events and other journalists on the tour offered Li the opportunity to query Harper.

When staff did not recognize him, Li tried to take the microphone, triggering a tussle that ended with him being hauled to the back of the room by RCMP security staff.

Andrew MacDougall, the prime minister's Director of Communications, took to Twitter to ask for an apology.

Not surprisingly, the opposition parties have an alternate view of what happened.

"In this case, its the press gallery, that really, by tradition gets to make this decision as to who goes first and who goes second. And when they defer to the Chinese journalist then that should have been respected," NDP MP Jack Harris told CBC's Power and Politics.

"The Prime Minister doesn't even do a [media] scrum in Ottawa.

"Because the message is trying to be controlled. The pictures are trying to be controlled."

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Liberal MP Joyce Murray echoed Harris' comments.

"I wasn't there in person to know what actually happened but I think this does represent the kind of disrespect that this prime minister has for Canadians, for people and for the role of the media in communicating with the public," she said.

"What's he afraid of. Why so un-transparent. So to me this is a symptom of a larger problem and that's this deliberate attempt to control the message."

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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