Letters: ‘He committed career suicide as quickly as one could imagine’

Maclean’s readers write in on Tom Flanagan, minor hockey and Quebec elections

Photographs by Jessica Darmanin

Tom Flanagan (Photographs by Jessica Darmanin)


After reading your interview with former Conservative adviser Tom Flanagan (Interview, April 21), I rewatched the video of him making comments about child pornography to an audience in Lethbridge, Alta., to refresh my memory, and my jaw dropped all over again. He was in no way trapped. He went off-topic with minimal prompting, and spoke at some length very willingly. When the audience, reacting with vocal disgust, asked him to clarify what he meant, he repeated his opinion that he “questions if any real harm is done” by viewing child pornography and “it’s a personal-liberty issue.” I’ll give him this much: He committed career suicide as quickly and thoroughly as one could imagine. Disgusting is an understatement.

David Schultz, Montreal

Tom Flanagan implied that watching child pornography is a “victimless crime” and one that should not necessarily be punished by any criminal charges. Nothing can change this fact: no number of books, desperate, far-fetched explanations, deferring of blame or whining about traps. (He was asked a question and he answered: No trap there!) Flanagan might try to bring down those who disparaged him to his level of depravity, but I sincerely hope his political exile is not over. Preston Manning, in recanting his denunciation of Flanagan, has come down quite a few notches in my opinion. I expected more from him.

Doreen Rose, Campbell River, B.C.

Tom Flanagan reassures us that he “can’t see [Stephen Harper] ever taking a bribe.” But what about the other side of such a transaction? Harper admitted in a taped interview that Conservative officials informed him before they sought independent MP Chuck Cadman’s vote to bring down the Liberal government in 2005. In Harper’s own words, “The offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election.” There was only one other person present at that meeting who is still alive today to tell us whether the offer was a bribe: Flanagan.

H.B. Hutter, Toronto

Tom Flanagan counts himself  “in pretty good company” by listing the trio of troubled senators: Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, three Conservatives who had “allegedly dodgy expense claims.” Does this guy never read the papers or watch the news? Aligning himself with this group of misfits demonstrates an extreme lack of awareness and political astuteness. Maybe that’s why he’s no longer a strategist.

Don McLellan, New Westminster, B.C.

Life after separatism

The epic collapse of Quebec separatism” (National, April 21)? Don’t get your hopes up too much. We have been down this exact same tiresome road too many times before. No sooner is the secessionist movement declared dead, than up it pops again at the merest hint of imagined insult, humiliation or slur invoking any of their arcane, paranoid delusions. Watch your necks, Canadians! They’ll be back sooner than you think.

Garth Klatt, Calgary

The PQ is at a crossroads: The party stands for one idea, the separation of Quebec from Canada, and this election proved, clearly, that more than 75 per cent of the electorate does not want to hear about another referendum or separation. What does Quebec want? What every Canadian wants: peace, order and good government; good, permanent, well-paying jobs; health care that functions better than it does at present; great schools, great teachers, great neighbourhoods. It means keeping public debt under control and moderating excessively and unnecessarily large government bureaucracies across the country. It means welcoming good people from all over the world who want to come here and live with us as we live. At this time, the PQ is basically a one-note symphony. Few are listening; most now have even left the concert hall. One Canada, one citizenship, one passport!

Leonard Pacelli, Montreal

How to really show solidarity with feminism

While I appreciate a chivalrous man being “not an asshole” on a date (and in life in general), I have to disagree that splitting the bill is a feminist act (“He also pays for his own dinners,” Help, April 21). Since, statistically speaking, women still earn only 75 cents for every dollar a man makes, these new chivalrists should pay 100 per cent of their bill, plus 25 per cent of the woman’s, just to acknowledge the shortfall that still exists in today’s workplace.

Cathy McRae, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Rebooting minor hockey

There is no real consequence for the behaviour of hockey parents (“The new hockey fights,” National, April 14). If a player goes too far with a referee, he knows he will get a penalty, maybe an expulsion, so he restrains. Parents don’t have that. They need a law stating which behaviour is unacceptable, and with a consequence. Meanwhile, there is a very easy (and quick) way to protect the referees. Give them the same legal protection as police: You insult a police officer, you get a big fine; you push it, you’re in trouble.

Michel Clement, Regina

I have witnessed hockey coaches tell kids outright not to play other sports or it will affect their playing time or even roster status. It takes the kid out of being a kid. Hockey today has no true off-season, as other sports do. Hockey in Canada needs a reboot or a rebranding, and if it doesn’t come from the highest level, nothing will change.

Andrew Schroeder, Hamilton

Interns deserve wages

The issue of unpaid internships (“Labouring under false pretenses,” April 21) has nothing to do with Colby Cosh’s notion of a necessary initiation into that exclusive club of self-congratulatory, ink-stained wretches of which Cosh is evidently a member in good standing. No, the issue is quite simply wages for work. If you want someone to show up when you tell him or her to, not leave until you tell him or her to, and do everything you say during the hours in between, then that is work for which wages should be paid. Period.

A.D. Pooley, Hamilton

Pretty clearly, these internships only serve to make sure those with wealthy parents will have an extra leg up in working in the media, creating a distorted media space that frequently has no bearing on what the population actually thinks and behaves. Pay them, level the playing field.

Michael Tripper, Vancouver

Are we really cleaner than the Chinese?

Charlie Gillis seems to be saying that Chinese corruption is bad compared to the “transparency that Westerners take for granted” (“On the take,” International, April 21). I guess the capitalist system is much better, in which the banker CEOs who caused the global financial crisis openly rewarded themselves with hundreds of millions in salaries and bonuses, which nearly collapsed the global economy, yet they never faced even one day of incarceration. Then, to add insult to injury, they are still receiving the same obscene compensation and bonuses as if nothing ever happened—and this all seems to be legal. I wonder if the “civilized Westerners” still retain the moral compass to point fingers?

Mike Demmer, Toronto

Losing the loyal customers

My dad was a GM man (“Stuck in the past,” Economy, April 21). My first vehicle was a ’67 Chevy pickup and I’ve owned GM products ever since. I’m 63 years old; I think they call that loyalty. It seems I’ve been on a one-way street for the best part of a decade. I think I’ve bought my last GM product.

Peter Burkhardt, Dorion, Ont.

Lead us not outside Ontario?

I was quite surprised that your special report on “Canada’s future leaders” (April 21) featured eight youth out of the 12 either from, or studying in, Ontario. Furthermore, despite Quebec accounting for more than 20 per cent of Canada’s population (granted, the youth demographics are different), you were not able to come up with one young woman or man from one of Quebec’s outstanding CEGEPs and universities.

Michael Hanley, Mount-Royal, Que.

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Letters: ‘He committed career suicide as quickly as one could imagine’

  1. @ Cathy McRae – your math is off; if you’re looking for equitable, you have to split that 25% difference. And of course, that’s assuming that the cost of the meals are equal.

    What, then, if the woman makes more? Do the tables get reversed? Do people have to start bringing their tax returns to establish exactly what the level of imbalance is between the two?

    After a while, this just starts getting silly.

    I’m in favour of each paying their own, or coming to an agreement where they take turns treating one another.

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