MONTREAL – Quebec’s higher education minister has come under fire for sharing a digitally manipulated photo of Team Canada athletes on social media Tuesday night.
Pierre Duchesne, the Parti Quebecois Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, tweeted a photo of moguls medallists Chloé and Justine Dufour-Lapointe wearing blue mittens featuring white fleur-de-lis.
The image was almost identical to a Team Canada photo – save for one detail:
The original photo promotes the Red Mittens initiative, a collaboration between the Canadian Olympic Foundation and the Hudson’s Bay Company that raises money for Canadian Olympic athletes.
According to a blog post on the official Canadian Olympic site, the mittens “are as personal as our relationships with the winter season: often different but always sentimental . . . and always Canadian.”
For each pair of mittens sold, the Hudson’s Bay Company donates $3.33 to Canadian Olympic athletes.
“The Red Mitten initiative represents a concrete way for Canadians to show their interest in, and support for, our Olympic athletes,” said Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medallist Alexandre Bilodeau in a statement.
“Wherever you are, from coast to coast to coast, as you wave your Red Mittens to cheer us on in Sochi, I hope that you feel very proud of your contribution to the success of the Canadian Olympic Team.”
‘He didn’t know’
Amid significant Olympic success for Quebec athletes, some proud Quebecers have taken the opportunity to point out that, were the province its own country, its Sochi performance would outrank that of the rest of Canada.
A spokesperson for Pierre Duchesne told Global News that the minister had retweeted the photo (he doesn’t know from whom) because he liked it and he was proud of Quebec’s athletes.
“He found the photo pretty and Quebec had performed well,” press attache Joel Bouchard said Wednesday.
“He didn’t know before he tweeted it that the picture had been photoshopped,” Bouchard added.
“But he knows now.”
Other photoshop fails
Allegations of digitally manipulated pictures have caused embarrassment for other government officials in the past.
Just this week, it was revealed that Cuban government handout photographs of Fidel Castro were digitally altered to remove any traces of his hearing aid.
Last October, an image of 103-year-old Cheng Yanchun was added to a group photo of government officials and, in a less successfully altered image published in 2011, Chinese officials were seen posing slightly above a road they were supposed to be inspecting.
In 2010, the newspaper Al-Ahram moved the then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to the front of a group of Middle East leaders walking with president Barack Obama.