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Preston Manning

'Ill considered remarks' the Achilles heel of conservative movement: Preston Manning

By Kristy Kirkup, Parliamentary Bureau

Preston Manning, President and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy speaks during the Manning Networking Conference 2010 in Ottawa March 12, 2010. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

Preston Manning, President and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy speaks during the Manning Networking Conference 2010 in Ottawa March 12, 2010. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

OTTAWA — The Achilles heel of the conservative movement is "intemperate and ill considered remarks" which have the ability to hurt the entire family, says Reform Party of Canada godfather and former Opposition leader Preston Manning.

In an address to about 250 delegates Saturday at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, Manning identified that "careless" comments have the capacity to "discredit the family as a whole" including conservative governments, parties and campaigns.

Manning specifically noted the controversial child-pornography statements made by Tom Flanagan, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, late last month.

Manning referred to Flanagan as "a prominent libertarian and a good friend ... which seemed to imply that the freedom of an individual to view child pornography had no serious consequences for others."

University of Calgary Prof. Flanagan, who has since apologized for his remarks, was scheduled to appear at the conference but he was cancelled at a speaker after his child-pornography comments made headlines.

Flanagan was also canned as a CBC contributor and Alberta's Wildrose Party ended its relationship with its former campaign manager.

Manning said people make mistakes and deserve second chances, but added "we earn the right to govern others by first learning and practising the government of ourselves."

He also cited that the amalgamated conservative movement cannot afford to be "blindsided and discredited" by these kinds of incidents.

Manning said these cases provide an opportunity for "human rights commissions and the courts" to "further restrict rather than safeguard or expand freedom of speech."

Kristy.Kirkup@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @kkirkup

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