Reporter denied chance to ask question grabs microphone from staffer
A Chinese reporter was hauled away by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s RCMP security detail Friday after he grabbed a microphone and tried to ask Harper a question during a news conference at a mine in northern Quebec.
The reporter had just been involved in a brief physical altercation with Harper’s press secretary, Julie Vaux, as he waited in line to ask his question.
Li Xue Jiang, Canadian bureau chief for the Chinese People's Daily, is one of 10 reporters travelling with Harper on his tour of the North this week.
The tussle came on the last stop of a six-day trip that featured some frayed nerves and sharp words between reporters and members of the Prime Minister’s Office, but was generally seen as relatively smooth considering its length and the rough nature of the travel.
Video of Friday’s incident shows Li brushing Vaux's hand away, and then later shoving her.
The press gallery is the organization that represents journalists who work in Ottawa covering politics and Parliament Hill. Li is a member of the gallery.
Li refused to apologize Friday and said the prime minister’s office should apologize to him: "Why should I apologize? They should apologize to me for being unfair and depriving me of my right to ask a question."
As is now common practice at Harper news conferences, the number of questions is decided by the prime minister’s staff and announced to members of the media, who determine by consensus which issues need to be addressed and which reporters are best to pose them.
Political reporters have long complained about the practice, but Harper’s office for years has refused to do things any other way.
The first sign of trouble arrived before the news conference even began, when Li was heard speaking to Lecce and saying, “It’s unfair. Not fair.”
Later, Li was seen stomping toward Lecce and having another animated conversation.
As the CBC was called on to ask a question on Syria, press secretary Julie Vaux spoke to the Privy Council Office audio technician who operates the media microphone.
Vaux then started whispering to Li in the media line and Li was heard again saying, "unfair, unfair."
The video reveals that Vaux was talking to Li and perhaps touching him. Li is seen responding angrily and pushing Vaux. He then turns his attention from her and, as she tries to talk with him, he shoves her again.
"She asked me to give up this question to your Canadian journalist," Li said later, adding he told Vaux it was his last chance on the trip to ask a question.
RCMP restrain Chinese reporter after tussle at Harper event - Politics - CBC News