Former aide to Canadian PM dumped after child porn comment

Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:28pm EST
 

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office quickly distanced themselves from former Harper aide Tom Flanagan on Wednesday after the political commentator said viewing child pornography did not harm others.

Flanagan was a campaign manager and chief of staff for Harper or the Conservative Party at various times before the Conservatives took power in 2006, and has long been a commentator for CBC.

At a seminar at Alberta's University of Lethbridge on Wednesday, he took issue with the Conservative "jihad" on child pornography.

The CBC dumped him as a political commentator and Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall said his remarks were repugnant and did not reflect the Conservative government's view.

"...you know a lot of people on my side of the spectrum, a certain side of the spectrum, are bent on kind of a jihad against pornography and child pornography in particular, and I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures," Flanagan, a political scientist at the University of Calgary, told the seminar on Wednesday night.

He said there was a real issue as "to what extent we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person."

Flanagan apologized, but not before the CBC fired him and Alberta's conservative Wildrose Party, for which he was campaign manager last year, said he would have no future role.

CBC News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire said: "While we support and encourage free speech across the country and a diverse range of voices, we believe Mr. Flanagan's comments to have crossed the line and impacted his credibility as a commentator for us."

MacDougall tweeted: "Tom Flanagan's comments on child pornography are repugnant, ignorant, and appalling."   Continued...