POLITICS

RCMP restrain Chinese reporter after tussle at Harper event

08/23/2013 04:01 EDT | Updated 10/23/2013 05:12 EDT
An Ottawa-based Chinese reporter covering Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tour of the North was hauled away by RCMP officers after he was denied the chance to ask a question and grabbed a microphone.

Li Xue Jiang, the Ottawa correspondent for the Chinese People's Daily, had been offered one of five spots in which to ask a question of Harper following an announcement about renewable energy at the Ragland Mine in northern Quebec.

When staff from the Prime Minister's Office refused to allow Li to ask a question, Li tussled briefly with a staff member and then tried to grab the microphone from a PMO technician.

Three RCMP officers stepped in and led Li to the back of the room.

At events on this week's trip, his eighth to the North as prime minister, Harper has typically been taking four questions from the Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters travelling with him and one from a local reporter.

With no local reporter on hand Friday, the gallery reporters agreed Li would ask the question reserved for local reporters.

But the PMO's deputy director of communications, Stephen Lecce, said in the absence of a local reporter there would actually only be four questions allocated. The gallery reporters decided to drop one of theirs to allow Li a spot, but again PMO staff said no.

When Julie Vaux, the prime minister's press secretary, attempted to talk to Li as he stood in line behind the microphone, a physical altercation ensued.

The prime minister's chief spokesman, Andrew MacDougall, said on Twitter that Li should apologize.

"Agree or disagree with how events are run, there was no excuse for the Chinese state reporter to get physical with our staff," MacDougall tweeted. "We will be raising the matter with the press gallery and Mr. Li should apologize immediately."