Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s former senior adviser, Tom Flanagan, has questioned the jailing of people who view child pornography. And paid a huge price for it.
“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,” Flanagan said Wednesday night in Lethbridge, Alta., during a lecture discussing the Conservatives’ anti-democratic changes to the Indian Act. “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, a University of Calgary professor, is a prominent Conservative figure widely regarded as the architect of Harper’s rise to power. He’s been called “the man behind Stephen Harper”. In 1997, he and Harper penned a paper in which they called Canada “our benign dictatorship”. They prophetically argued that our “system of one-party-plus rule has stunted democracy.” Flanagan served as campaign manager for the Conservative Party of Canada during the 2004 and 2006 federal elections.
Back in 2009, he asked: “What’s wrong with child pornography — in the sense that it’s just pictures.” There was some criticism but no serious consequences. Not this time.
After a six-day federal court hearing, eight electors in six ridings have made a strong case that there was widespread voter suppression in the 2011 federal election that benefited Conservative Party candidates. They have asked the federal court judge to annul the results in the six ridings.
“The fact that the applicants have had their day in court is a significant victory,” said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. “It came despite the efforts of the Conservative Party lawyers to have the case thrown out and to drive up the legal costs, which are being paid for by the Council of Canadians.”
Under the sheen of freezing rain that blanketed the Supreme Court of Canada, the historic legal cases of eight Canadians against voter suppression and fraud in the 2011 federal election finally got underway.
Day one of what is expected to be a full week of legal proceedings focused on the outstanding preliminary motions brought by Conservative Party lawyers to have the cases dismissed.Up first was their motion on champerty and maintenance – alleging the Council of Canadians has no standing in these cases, and the eight applicants are mere stooges the Council is using to reap a financial windfall.