By Leslie Ciarula Taylor, Toronto Star, December 3, 2010
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking from an undisclosed spot thought to be in Britain, said Friday that (Canadian Prime Minister) Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff “should be charged with incitement to commit murder” for saying Assange should be assassinated.
Assange answered questions through the website of the British newspaper The Guardian.
Tom Flanagan, a University of Calgary professor and former Harper adviser, apologized on Wednesday for his remark.
“I never seriously intended to advocate or propose the assassination of Mr. Assange. But I do think that what he’s doing is very malicious and harmful to diplomacy and endangering people’s lives, and I think it should be stopped.”
Earlier, Flanagan had said, “I think Assange should be assassinated” and U.S. President Barack Obama “should put out a contract” on him.
“It is correct that Mr. Flanagan and the others seriously making these statements should be charged with incitement to commit murder,” Assange said in answer to a question about Flanagan.
Clearly, Mr. Flanagan, who teaches political science at the University of Calgary, and who once served as the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, has uttered words he would like to have back. He has apologized.
However, whether the CBC might consider removing him from the "Power Panel" on the "Power and Politics" program with Evan Solomon each afternoon between five and seven in the evening is a question that we can only hope the producers of the show are considering, actively,
It is this kind of rhetoric that has been following President Obama since he threw his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate in 2007. And the people flinging words like these at Mr. Obama are not on the public media, nor are they, generally, carrying the kind of academic credentials that Mr. Flanagan presumably holds.
Vitriol, in the heat of a moment is both available, and also needing restraint no matter the socio-economic class of the speaker, and no matter the political clout of the speaker.
And the violence that characterizes the political rhetoric, both in Washington, and we might like to remember, by Mr. Flanagan's former employer, the Prime Minister himself, especially with his character assassination of Stephane Dion, for which this writer has never, and likely never will forgive him, is inexcuseable, reprehensible and completely unacceptable.
Let's hope that the intemperance of the remarks, even with the apology, will reflect on the kind of absolute, black-and-white thinking that often characterizes this prime minister's approach especially to Liberal party candidates, policy and history. These remarks by Flanagan are indicative of the kind of brutality that accompanies the Prime Minister's brutality in his exercise of power, in the most honoured office in the land.