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.
Surely this has got to be the ultimate Tale of Two Nazanins. Better still, Of Denial And The Tale of Two Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKays.
The brand new wife of Conservative Defence Minister Peter MacKay is fuming. She accuses a journalist baiting her to criticize the Harper Government on the Omar Khadr issue.
She even says Jim Day, the Guardian journalist who penned the story in which she said the former Afghan combatant should be returned to Canada, distorted her views. He used duplicitous methods to elicit her comments, she claims. He interviewed her while she was Charlottetown to speak at a Progressive Conservative Association dinner.
Let’s take a look at the former Miss World Canada’s exact words, shall we:
“Omar Khadr was a child when he was involved in combat under the UN [United Nations] definition and so we should abide by the international laws and rules that we expect of other countries as well.” AND: “So I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be kept in prison, but definitely I think it’s time to bring him back to Canada. He was a Canadian citizen and he can be tried here or looked after here in terms of how long his sentence is going to be or what is going to be his fate.”
Bravo! Afshin-Jam MacKay spoke from inside the heart of a “human rights activist”. She nailed it – the bit about how Canada “should abide by the international laws” and Khadr being a “Canadian citizen” and how “definitely” it’s time…
What’s driving her to disown her own words now? Did Peter MacKay receive a call from the powerful and dictatorship-modeled Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)? A call that warned him to tell her to zip it or else he risks being demoted during the next cabinet reshuffle. Her self-denial has got to have something to do with national politics. The case of the political nuking the personal.
After all, the Conservatives have delayed the Guantanamo prisoner’s repatriation for nine months now. And, we should expect the Conservatives to delay the process even further. On July 19, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews wrote U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta requesting unedited and uncensored video footage of Khadr’s psychiatric interviews. Apparently, the Conservatives need the footage before they can make a decision.
Quebec will not be a priority for the Conservative Canadian Prime Minister during the next four years of his comfortable majority rule. That was the message Stephen Harper sent with his appointment this week of Angelo Persichilli as the new director of communications in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Persichilli, a former Toronto Star columnist, doesn’t speak French. French is not just one of Canada’s two official languages. Together with English, it’s also Canada’s founding language. Is there a better way to show Quebec the political middle finger?
But Quebec’s departure from the PM’s scheme of things leaves no void. Enter the ethnic vote. Canadian ethnic groups, particularly those in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) transformed themselves into key voting blocs for Conservatives during the May 2 Federal election. They delivered Harper the coveted parliamentary majority. And now the Conservatives seek to consolidate this new-found relationship.
Communication will be key. That’s where Persichilli comes in. A former editor of the Italian-language newspaper Corriere Canadese, Persichilli has strong connections with the “ethnic media” in Canada. According to the Toronto Star, he also worked as a “weekly commentator for Omni-TV” where he “coordinated Chinese, Italian and Portuguese programming.
The day Stephen Harper will become Prime Minister for all Canadians is yet to come.