The Toronto Star's Tonda McCharles reports from Raglan Mine, Que.:
"A skirmish broke out at the end of Stephen Harper’s Arctic tour when a Chinese journalist tried to ask the prime minister a question.
"Li Xue Jiang, bureau chief for China’s People’s Daily, was told by a PMO media relations adviser he wasn’t allowed to ask a question because they’re limited to just five and are allotted to only Canadian journalists.
"Li lined up behind one reporter and exchanged words with another Harper staffer, a woman. He brushed her off once, and then pushed the shaken staffer hard off to the side, saying, “Not fair, not fair.” When Li grabbed the microphone, the prime minister’s personal security detail stepped in.
"RCMP officers hustled Li to the back of a massive building.
“'I’m sorry . . . (that) this thing happened,' Li later said to Canadian reporters.
But he insisted Julie Vaux, spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, had pushed him first.
Li was allowed to remain, but continued to argue that he had a right to ask a question.
"Li, an accredited member of the parliamentary press gallery, said he wanted to ask what was Canada’s stand on Chinese investment and foreign takeovers — an issue that has been up in the air since the Conservative government approved the purchase by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation of Nexen.
"The Canadian media beforehand had agreed to give Li one of the five questions that the PMO had said Harper would take on Friday.
Just before the announcement, Li and the Canadian media were told by a PMO staffer it wasn’t an option as the list had already been approved by the PMO.
Li said the RCMP officers “said I couldn’t ask a question. I said why?” Li said he told the Mounties that Canadian journalists had agreed he could ask a question. “It’s not democratic.”
The Star has a photo sequence of the incident. Subscription needed.
(Harper and the whole PMO staff and the RCMP handlers should hang their head in shame. Anyone who has covered international events will know that this is unacceptable behavior by the PMO staff. -- Mostly Media)
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