University announces Tom Flanagan’s retirement
A prominent University of Calgary professor is at the centre of a firestorm of controversy over comments he made about child pornography.
Dr. Tom Flanagan told a group of students at the University of Lethbridge on Wednesday night that he had "grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures." The U of C professor of political scientist made the comment during the forum discussing the Indian Act.
Flanagan has strong political connections at the provincial and federal level. Until 2004, Flanagan served as a long time advisor to Stephen Harper, and in the 2011 Alberta provincial election, he was the campaign manager for the Wildrose party.
The Wildrose party severed ties with Flanagan Thursday morning.
“There is no language strong enough to condemn Dr. Flanagan’s comments,” says Wildrose Official Opposition Lead Danielle Smith. “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. In no uncertain terms, Wildrose condemns the production, transmission and viewing of child pornography.”
“To be clear, Dr. Flanagan does not speak for me or the Wildrose caucus and he will have no role – formal or informal – with our organization going forward.”
Wednesday night's comment at the U of L has prompted the CBC to end its relationship with Flanagan, who had served as a political commenter.
"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," says Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor In Chief, CBC News and Centres.
"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".
Elizabeth Cannon, President of the University of Calgary, released a statement Thursday morning in regards to Flanagan's child porn stance.
"Comments made by Tom Flanagan in Lethbridge yesterday absolutely do not represent the views of University of Calgary," says Cannon. " 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."
"Tom Flanagan has been on a research and scholarship leave from the University of Calgary since January of 2013. Tom Flanagan will remain on leave and will retire from the university on June 30, 2013."
Premier Alison Redford was horrified by Flanagan's comment.
"It turned my stomach," she said. "I am absolutely disgusted by it. I think it is a perfect example of people who take ideological arguments too far."
Dr. Tom Flanagan released the following statement on Wednesday.
"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."