Tom Flanagan made child-porn comments in Manitoba in 2009
Ex-PM adviser's talk was recorded by University of Manitoba newspaper writer
Posted: Mar 1, 2013 5:43 PM CST
Last Updated: Mar 1, 2013 7:10 PM CST
Tom Flanagan, a former political advisor who made controversial comments this week about child pornography, had made similar remarks during a talk in 2009 at the University of Manitoba.
Flanagan, a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a conservative pundit and political scientist, has come under fire for stating, during a lecture in Alberta on Wednesday, that he had "grave doubts" about jailing people who view child pornography.
His remarks are similar to what he said in 2009, when he was invited to the University of Manitoba to give a talk about political advertising.
During that lecture, Flanagan started talking about a case from 1999 in which a lawyer was publicly criticized for representing a man accused of possessing child pornography.
"That's actually an interesting debate for another seminar: What's wrong with child pornography? In a sense, they're just pictures. But I'm not here to debate that," Flanagan said during the talk.
His remarks were recorded by Laura Blakley Brouwer, who at the time was a writer with The Manitoban, a campus newspaper.
"I felt like there were a lot of people who kind of stiffened up a bit and kind of went, 'Did he just say that?'" she told CBC News on Friday.
"But nobody really did anything at the time."
While there was not much reaction to Flanagan's comments back then, Blakley Brouwer said she could not believe what she heard.
"It was definitely just kind of a face-palm moment," she said.
"You look at the guy and you think, 'OK, you're supposed to be incredibly politically savvy. You're the guy who advises the prime minister on how to win his campaign. And yet, you feel it's OK to just throw out comments like that?'"
Flanagan's latest comments came during a lecture in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday about proposed changes to the Indian Act.
"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," he said during the lecture, which was recorded and posted online by someone in attendance.
"It's a real issue of personal liberty and to what extent we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person."
Flanagan's statements drew heavy criticism on Thursday from the prime minister's office and the Wildrose Party, where he was a former campaign manager.
The CBC also announced that Flanagan, who was a member of the Power & Politics Power Panel, would no longer be appearing on the program.
The University of Calgary, where Flanagan had been a professor, said on Thursday he has been on a "research and scholarship leave" since January and will remain on sabbatical until June, when he will retire.
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