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Political scientist Tom Flanagan was a long-time collaborator with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as well as the Senior Communications Adviser for the Conservatives successful 2005–2006 election run. He was an insider while Harper rose to power.
In 2013, though, a perceived endorsement of child pornography coming from a conversation using "badly chosen" words made him a pariah.
Flanagan talked about Harper when he was in the red chair to promote his new book, Persona Non Grata.
"I hope it's balanced, what I wrote is balanced," said Flanagan. "I have nothing to lose at this point. I’m through with politics. I'm not working for any poltical party. The only person I can embarrass now is myself."
"Do you think the PM is going to read this book?" asked George.
"No," said Flanagan. "He’s got a lot of things to do. Like preventing World War Three in the Ukraine. He's tied up. He doesn't give any thought to this. He’s got big things on his plate. He might get some clips in his briefing package."
"Do you still fear he might bring himself down, Nixon style?" George asked next.
"Well, the Senate thing caused him a lot of grief, didn’t it? I think that's one of the reasons why he’s trailing Justin (Trudeau) in the polls," said Flanagan. "Maybe he can recover from it. Actually, I hope he does. But this is sort of what I was afraid might happen. His style of secretive and ruthless control might become so apparent that it would turn people off. And I think that happened in the Senate case. But it's worked for him. He's been prime minister for what, going on eight years. You could hardly say he's been a political failure. He's been a political success. But this is maybe the Achilles' heel."
George then asked if this might be the thing that could be Harper's downfall.
"Yeah, this is the big one," said Flanagan. "It may not be fatal. I can’t predict the future. Maybe two years from now things will look different. It was a privilege to work for him. I’m thankful he gave me that opportunity. I saw some things and try to report them. No enmity. By and large I support most, not all, but most of what he's done in government."
Tom Flanagan's interview with George airs Monday, April 14, 2014 at 11:30 p.m. on CBC.