Friday, March 13, 2009

Tom Hanson, award winning photographer

Award winning Canadian Press photographer Tom Hanson, who passed away suddenly on Tuesday at the age of 41, was married to the love of his life. Catherine, the daughter of David and Lorraine Marshall of Cornwall Ontario, to whom we send our deepest condolences.

David and Lorraine Marshall have been fighting for justice from Stephen Harper on the income trust matter since the night that Harper broke his solemn promise to them, and from the time that they learned shortly thereafter that Harper’s tax leakage argument is a total fabricated hoax. I have not met two more decent and honest people on the income trust matter over the last two and half years, than David and Lorraine Marshall.

It is interesting that Stephen Harper felt the need to appropriate Tom Hanson’s image in comments that he made in the House of Commons on Wednesday when he stated: "Tom was a talented photojournalist who distinguished himself both by the quality of his work and his character," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons in a statement Wednesday. "Through his photos, Tom helped to chronicle our story as Canadians."

David and Lorraine Marshall were the ones who organized the rally on Parliament Hill on October 31, 2007. Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty were so concerned that the media spotlight would have once again turned on their devastation of Canadian seniors like David and Lorraine Marshall on the occasion of the first anniversary of his income trust betrayal, that they took the unprecedented step of pre-announcing on that date (of all dates?), the reduction in corporate tax rates. This was designed to obscure the press’ attention and Canadian’s attention from the one year anniversary of Harper’s betrayal and the event that David and Lorraine Marshall had arranged for that day.

This is because Stephen Harper, unlike Tom Hanson, has no interest himself, in chronicling our story as Canadians. Quite the contrary. If he did, the attached photo taken at David and Lorraine Marshall’s rally on Parliament Hill would have been front page news that day, and not some lame announcement about reduced corporate tax rates. Also attached is a video of the testimony that David Marshall gave at the Public Hearings on Income Trusts, which conveniently wasn’t covered by the Canadian media either. ( David appears at 3:58 mark).

In that testimony David states: “As it turns out, one of the biggest mistakes of our lives life was believing in Stephen Harper”. That is but the tip of the iceberg of David’s testimony that wasn’t covered by the press, or the testimony of the three other individuals who spoke before Parliament, William Barrowclough, Donald Francis and Jean-Marie Lapointe.

He did what it took to get the shot

'He totally believed in the cause and the need for us ... to have the access we needed to record history'
The Canadian Press

March 13, 2009

Award-winning photojournalist Tom Hanson was known for fiercely defending the rights of reporters and journalists on Parliament Hill.

"He had a gruff exterior," said Graeme Roy, director of news photography for The Canadian Press. "But he was very kind and generous and helpful to anybody. He would set things up on the Hill that seemed to be impossible, and he'd bust through the red tape and he'd make things happen.

"He totally believed in the cause and the need for us to be there, to be present, to have the access we needed to record history."

Mr. Hanson was born May 1, 1967, in Rochester, N.Y., but his family later moved to Montreal. He attended Vanier College in 1985 and spent two years at Concordia University before freelancing for CP in 1989. He was added to Ottawa's small roster of full-time staff in 1992.

"Tom was a talented photojournalist who distinguished himself both by the quality of his work and his character," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons in a statement Wednesday. "Through his photos, Tom helped to chronicle our story as Canadians."

Mr. Hanson's last foreign assignment was, in fact, with the Prime Minister last month in New York - a trip that yielded yet another iconic image, a worm's-eye view of Mr. Harper strolling among the billboards of Times Square.

Moments before the photo was snapped, Mr. Harper apparently warned Mr. Hanson he was about to topple into an open manhole. Conservative staffers joked that other members of the media might not have gotten that warning.

It was clear from the outset that Mr. Hanson's skills as a photographer, coupled with a fearlessness and unique perspective on the world, would serve him well.

One of his most celebrated photos, of a kilt-wearing bagpiper in a gas mask emerging from the protests at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, was named Picture of the Year in 2001.

In 2002, Mr. Hanson was named Photographer of the Year by a jury of his peers - editors and photographers from across the spectrum of media outlets who contributed to CP's picture service.

Over a career laden with professional accolades, the one from his colleagues was among his most cherished. "This award means more to me than a lot of other awards because it's voted on by people who really know what they're doing," he said.

Frank Gunn, a CP photographer based in Toronto, called Mr. Hanson "our best photographer, period."

Colleagues across the country were shattered by the news Wednesday, none more so than in CP's Ottawa bureau. Those who knew him best say the tight-lipped scowl he sometimes wore while working would melt away in the company of his wife, Catherine.

"Tom was a rapid-fire, cursing cowboy who became a kitten in oven mitts when he was home with the love of his life," Ottawa reporter Sue Bailey wrote in an e-mail. "He was as devoted to her halfway around the world as he was when they were side by side."

Mr. Hanson's other passions in life included hockey, playing the guitar and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but none could compare with his love for his wife. He wrote and recorded a song about the challenges of a life lived on the road, Ms. Bailey said. "It was a beautiful testament, almost a lullaby, to a bond that neither long distance nor the stress of so much time on the road could weaken."

Alexander Panetta, a CP reporter in Ottawa and a veteran of international assignments with Mr. Hanson, recalled the time in 2006 when they were in Cyprus to document the evacuation of Canadian citizens from war-torn Lebanon.

Mr. Hanson persistently urged Mr. Panetta to keep hydrated, but failed to take his own advice and became seriously ill the same night that the first boatload of Canadians sailed into port.

"He not only got the picture, but he actually got to that boat in the middle of the night faster than Canadian officials did," Mr. Panetta said. "Between trips to the bathroom, he managed to take some beautiful pictures of people coming in from Lebanon."

On a recent trip to Haiti with Governor-General Michaƫlle Jean, Mr. Panetta said he noticed Mr. Hanson's cheerfulness - particularly while he was helping a gathering of local children open toys they'd been given by Canadian embassy officials.

"He had a really big presence, but an even bigger heart," Mr. Panetta said.

When he wasn't documenting world events, Mr. Hanson was taking the mundane day-to-day of Parliament Hill and turning it into high art, usually by way of his eye for detail and unique perspectives.

"Not everybody has that gift, has that eye to make something magical out of what a bystander might see as a pretty routine-looking situation," Mr. Roy said.

Tom Hanson

Tom Hanson was born May 1, 1967, in Rochester, N.Y. He died March 10, 2009, after collapsing while playing hockey. He was 41.

1 comment:

Dr Mike said...

Mary & I had the pleasure of meeting Dave & Lorraine over dinner at Timber`s in London Ontario awhile back.

All I can say is that They are just regular decent people that anyone would be privileged to call friends.

To our friends , stay strong & remember if you need anything , we are all here.

Mary & Dr Mike Popovich.