WATCH: While travelling with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Iraq and Kuwait over the weekend, the media was asked not to show the faces of Canadian soldiers in the crowd. But some of those same faces showed up online, in a promotional video created by the Prime Minister’s Office. Vassy Kapelos was on that trip and has the story.
The Conservative government inappropriately published photos of Canadian soldiers posted in Iraq, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director said Tuesday afternoon.
The images in question, included in Harper’s video blog series called 24/7, were believed to show too clearly the faces of some of the country’s special forces soldiers taking part in the anti-ISIS mission.
As a result, the government is reviewing the protocol for publishing images and videos of Canadian troops, said Rob Nicol, Harper’s director of communications.
“The safety of our troops is our number one priority. For this reason, there are protocols in place before images or videos are posted,” he said in a written statement. “We regret the error and are reviewing protocols for such images.”
WATCH: MP James Bezan apologized for videos that were posted to PM Stephen Harper’s “24/7″ website showing Canadian soldiers faces during their trip to Iraq and Kuwait.
The images were taken during the prime minister’s recent surprise trip to Iraq and Kuwait.
Members of the media accompanying Harper were told to not show the faces of any Canadian soldier for fear of retaliation from ISIS.
While no media seem to have broken the government’s rule, the videos on Harper’s 24/7 website appear to.
One video, shot in Kuwait, shows Defence Minister Jason Kenney discussing the trip while soldiers roam about behind him.
In another — a narrated piece showing the prime minister meeting with soldiers and getting a tour of Canada’s advise and assist mission — includes the profile of what appears to be a member of JTF2, the most elite and secretive force in the Canadian military.
Canadian media were repeatedly told that showing anything involving JTF2 forces or any soldiers based in Kuwait or Iraq would directly put soldiers in danger; media were told ISIS could use the images to target the Canadian Forces members and their families.
A government spokesperson speaking on background initially said the videos were pre-cleared for use by National Defence.
He said that although DND raised no objections, the videos were abruptly pulled offline out of an abundance of caution when concerns arose Tuesday.
At the time, the spokesperson said the intention was to repost the videos as-is with no changes; a few hours later, though, it became clear the images broke protocol.
“When concerns were raised about a few specific images, these were taken down immediately so we could review that the protocols were applied properly,” Nicol said. “After a second review, it became apparent that two of the videos should not have been posted.”