Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Harper aide took my job at Olympics: photographer

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OTTAWA -- An Ottawa-based freelance photographer is considering legal action against the Canadian Olympic Committee after being fired ahead of this week's Olympic Games.

Chris Roussakis says he was supposed to be in London as the official photographer for Canada's Olympic team, but he was told in June the job was no longer his.

The photographer who is now working with the team is a member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's staff.

Jason Ransom will be among friends there; the COC's director of communications is Harper's former chief spokesman Dimitri Soudas.

Ransom took a leave of absence from Harper's staff for the job and cleared it with the ethics commissioner.

Meanwhile, Roussakis has retained a lawyer and says he is seeking compensation from the COC and, if that fails, will consider a lawsuit.

"This was going to be the biggest break of my career, and to be told four weeks before I was supposed to leave, after being sent to London on an advance trip, after telling all friends and family that I was going to fulfil my dream, but have it taken away from me at the last second," he said.

"It hurts beyond explanation."

Roussakis' lawyer said he has contacted the COC but was told any issues would have to wait until after the Games.

Asked about Roussakis' claim, Soudas said only two photographers have been hired: Ransom and Mike Ridewood.

"Jason before joining the prime minister's office was an award-winning photojournalist, so we're extremely lucky to have him," Soudas said Thursday at a reception in London.

Harper's current chief spokesman says for his part, Ransom is playing by the rules.

"Jason has taken a leave of absence from the Prime Minister's Office to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and has been in contact with the ethics commissioner to make them aware of his arrangement," said Andrew MacDougall.

"Everything has been done by the book."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2012 A15

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