Harper (on the left) with John Howard (on the right, or is it Mike Harris??)
There is a new accusation of plagiarism in another speech given by Prime Minister Harper. It was revealed today by the Liberals that in a speech delivered in February 2003 Harper cribbed the lines of neocon Ontario Premier Mike Harris. See http://www.thestar.com/federalelection/article/511503
This follows upon last week’s news – proved true – that much of a speech he gave to the Commons urging Canada to join the Iraq invasion were the words of neocon ex-Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The stolen Harris words were originally delivered by Harris in an address to the Montreal Economic Institute on December 4, 2002. Their text reads as follows:
"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is never easy. It takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that in taking a new and innovative course, you are making change for the better. ... Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."
Little more than two and a half months later – on February 19, 2003 - Harper addressed the Commons saying:
"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is not about reading the polls and having focus group tests. It is never easy because it takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that taking a new and innovative course is going to make change for the better. Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."
On hearing of this new plagiarism revelation Conservative mouthpiece Dan Dugas accused the Grits of wanting to "deflect attention from their lack of an economic plan." He added that "It's a stretch to say it's the same as the Howard speech, which concerned us and which we took seriously.” He pointed out "Here, they've identified 44 words out of a 4,956-word speech that are similar – not identical – to a speech by another conservative."
So according to Mr. Dugas, the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper believes that if you steal 2500 words out of a 5000 word speech, that is obviously a problem. In fact, so much so, they fired the fall guy. However stealing 44 words out of 4956, with a couple of wrinkles added on for deniability down the road, is not a problem.
That’s like saying if you steal 2500 cars out of a Mercedes Benz new car factory lot containing 5000 cars, that is theft and demands a penalty. But if you steal only 44 and, say, change one digit on a serial number to make the 44 look unique and not part of the 5000, that is not theft. It is a mere trifle deserving of no sanction.
Anybody who is thinking of casting his or her ballot for the Conservatives in the next Federal election better think about this. And if they agree with Conservative spokesman Mr. Dugas, they better consult their spiritual advisor and lawyer - preferably a criminal lawyer.