Inside Politics

UPDATE: Flanagan offers 'unreserved' apology for 'child porn' comments

The official statement: 

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - 

"In light of recent remarks made by Tom Flanagan at the University of Lethbridge, CBC News has taken the decision to end our association with him as a commentator on Power and Politics.  

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".  

Jennifer McGuire 
General Manager and Editor In Chief, CBC News and Centres.  

SOURCE: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation


Here's the full story from our CBC Calgary colleague Katy Anderson::

Tom Flanagan slammed over child porn comments

Comments recorded at Lethbridge lecture, posted online


Tom Flanagan, a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former campaign manager for Alberta's Wildrose party, is drawing heavy criticism for saying  he has "grave doubts" about jailing people who view child pornography.  

The conservative pundit and University of Calgary political science professor made the comments at a lecture about changes to the Indian Act in Lethbridge, Alta. on Wednesday night. They were recorded and posted online by someone in attendance.  

"I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste of pictures," said Flanagan in the video. 

"It's a real issue of personality liberty and to what extent we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person." 

The statements were met with jeers from the crowd.  

Flanagan goes on to say that he is not part of the Conservative government, and that he has some doubts about the some of the party's justice initiatives.  

The Prime Minister's Office responded to the comments on Twitter.  

"Tom Flanagan's comments on child pornography are repugnant, ignorant, and appalling," tweeted director of communications Andrew MacDougall.  

The Wildrose released a statement saying that Flanagan would have no role with the party going forward. 

 "There is no language strong enough to condemn Dr. Flanagan's comments," reads the statement.  

"Child pornography is a despicable crime that seriously harms all those involved, including the viewer. The viewing of child pornography first requires the production of child pornography, which causes untold suffering and abuse towards children."

The University of Calgary also released a statement Thursday distancing themselves from Flanagan and the comments.

"In the university's view, child pornography is not a victimless crime. All aspects of this horrific crime involve the exploitation of children. Viewing pictures serves to create more demand for these terrible images, which leads to further exploitation of defenseless children."

The university noted that Flanagan has been on a "research and scholarship leave" since January.

Flanagan was a member of the Power and Politics Power Panel. The CBC announced Thursday he would no longer be appearing on the program.  


UPDATE: Tom Flanagan has issued the following statement:

For immediate release
================
February 28, 2013

I absolutely condemn the sexual abuse of children, including the use of children to produce pornography. 

These are crimes and should be punished under the law. Last night, in an academic setting, I raised a theoretical question about how far criminalization should extend toward the consumption of pornography. 

My words were badly chosen, and in the resulting uproar I was not able to express my abhorrence of child pornography and the sexual abuse of children. 

I apologize unreservedly to all who were offended by my statement, and most especially to victims of sexual abuse and their families.
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