Friday, October 03, 2008

Plagiarism in politics and Stephen Harper

After the story of Joe Biden, another politician, this time a serving prime minister seems to have added his name to the list of politicians who "borrow" speeches.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been accused of plagiarism in a speech he made in 2003. His speech writer Owen Lippert was forced to resign after admitting he had been "overzealous in copying segments" of a speech in support of the invasion of Iraq by then Australian PM John Howard.

The accusation comes half-way through a general election campaign. Mr Harper, who has led a minority government since January 2006, called the snap election for 14 October last month, hoping to obtain a parliamentary majority, for which he needs to win 28 more seats.
Opinion polls suggest the conservatives are within striking distance of doing so, having maintained a near 10-point lead over the Liberals.
The speech by Mr Harper was originally made on 20 March 2003 as the House of Commons in Ottawa held an emergency debate at the beginning of the US-led war in Iraq.
In the debate, Mr Harper urged Canada and the Liberal government to join the so-called "coalition of the willing".
Five years later at a campaign stop on Tuesday, a Liberal MP for Toronto, Bob Rae, accused the prime minister of plagiarism. Mr Harper's 2003 speech had been made almost word-for-word two days before in Canberra by his former Australian counterpart, John Howard, he said.
To prove the allegation, portions of the speeches were played side by side.
"In the interests of world peace and regional security... The community of nations required Iraq to surrender," Mr Howard said in his speech.
"In the interests of peace and regional security... The community of nations required Iraq to surrender," Mr Harper said two days later.


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