Doctored Canadarm2 photo sparks parliamentary query

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux wants to know how the Canada logo found its way into a digitally altered image of the Canadarm2 that appeared on — and subsequently disappeared from — the Canadian Space Agency Tumblr account, as well as across numerous federal government websites.

Canadian Space Agency unsure how altered image wound up on Tumblr account

A digitally altered image of the Canadarm was posted to several federal government websites, and featured the logo on a part of the arm where such a logo doesn't exist on NASA's photo. The Canadian Space Agency has since removed the image, and says it doesn't know how it ended up on the agency's Tumblr account. (Canadian Space Agency Tumblr blog)

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux wants to know how the Canada logo found its way into a digitally altered image of the Canadarm that appeared on — and subsequently disappeared from — the Canadian Space Agency Tumblr account, as well as across numerous federal government websites.

Lamoureux has filed a written parliamentary request for more details on a doctored photo that left the space agency red-faced after it was brought to light by The Economist last week.

On Friday, the venerable magazine ran an online op-ed mocking Canada for its "astronomical boasting" after data editor Kenneth Cukier noticed a curious discrepancy in a photo of a 2005 spacewalk.   

A version of the photo posted on federal government websites appeared to feature the logo on a part of the arm where it didn't appear to exist in the original image.

"Countries have long fiddled with photographs to present an image of grandeur," the article noted.

"But the tactic of fairly ham-fisted airbrushing used here seems more reminiscent of North Korean propaganda posters than of Western democracies' typical PR efforts."

Photo not for use 'in any public way': agency

A spokeswoman for the agency told CBC News that the use of the photo, which had been altered during the creation of a poster for an internal event, had been a mistake.

"It wasn't supposed to be used in any public way," Maya Eyssen told CBC News.

She said the agency was taking steps to get the photo removed from the government websites where it had initially appeared, and replaced with the original version on the Canadian Space Agency website.

She also told CBC News that she was unsure how the photo ended up on the Tumblr blog post.

That is one of the questions Lamoureux has submitted as part of his written query, which also asks who made the "modifications" to the photo, and on whose orders or direction. He also wants to know who made the call to remove the Tumblr post, and why that was done.

The government has 45 days to respond to his question.  

Full text of Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux's written query:

With regard to the Canadian Space Agency:

(h) Why was that request or direction issued?

With files from Emily Chung, CBC News