Stephen Harper is a law-and-order type of guy, a champion of mandatory minimum sentences and tough legislation with names like Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act. But it turns out that not even the Prime Minister’s own office is safe from the criminal element. Just ask Jason Ransom, his official photographer. Someone stole his computer—right inside the Langevin Block, the PM’s supposedly ultra-secure headquarters.
The heist happened in April 2009, but news of the incident didn’t spread until this week, when Maclean’s started asking questions about an obscure item buried in the latest public accounts of Canada: a $1,298 reimbursement for “theft of personal laptop.”
Ransom (whose wife, Deb, is Harper’s other official photographer) did not respond to an email request for comment, but the PMO did provide some details. Ransom was using his personal Mac that day because his government-issued laptop was being repaired. And at some point—in between snapping behind-the-scenes shots of Harper busy at work—his silver laptop disappeared.
Rest assured, history buffs. Because Ransom always uploads his pics to a main server, none were lost in the robbery. As for the optics—that someone with approved access to Harper’s headquarters has a set of sticky fingers—the Privy Council’s security operations branch launched an internal investigation.
Unfortunately, the culprit was never identified, leaving Ransom little choice but to file a claim.
Bureaucrats can be reimbursed for the loss of personal property, as long as it is “reasonably related to the performance of the servant’s duties at the time of loss.” Said a PMO spokesman: “A legal opinion is required before proceeding with that reimbursement, and a legal opinion was received that recommended the reimbursement. That’s the story.”
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.