Fallout from Tom Flanagan's remarks surprises videographer

The person who captured Tom Flanagan's controversial comments on child pornography says he didn't set out to destroy the reputation of the former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ex-campaign manager of Alberta's Wildrose Party.

'It wasn't to completely discredit him'

Tom Flanagan has apologized for his recent statements on child pornography, but the backlash has been swift. (CBC)

The person who captured Tom Flanagan's controversial comments on child pornography says he didn't set out to destroy the reputation of the former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former campaign manager of Alberta's Wildrose Party.

After the comments were posted to YouTube, they drew heavy criticism from the prime minister's office and the Wildrose, as well as the University of Calgary where Flanagan had been working as a professor.

"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," said Flanagan at a lecture in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday night.

"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."

The lecture was about changes to the Indian Act, but the question that sparked Flanagan's comments was referring to oppression suffered by aboriginal children in residential schools across Canada and how it related to child pornography statements that Flanagan has previously made to a Manitoba newspaper.

"It wasn't to completely discredit him. I mean when we came into that discussion that evening, we didn't know what to expect," said Arnell Tailfeathers, a freelance videographer.

"We just thought ... if something happens — we better document it."

Swift backlash

The university announced Thursday afternoon that Flanagan will be retiring, and he was dropped from a CBC News political panel.

Flanagan's scheduled appearance at a Manning Centre conference next week in Ottawa was also cancelled.

Meanwhile, Tailfeathers says a lot of people have thanked him for posting the video to YouTube.

"I didn't anticipate this kind of reaction," said Tailfeathers. "It's overwhelming what happened."

When asked how he feels about Flanagan's damaged reputation, Tailfeathers says he "doesn't know what to say" and is still in shock about what Flanagan said.

Flanagan has apologized for the comments.

"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," he said. 

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