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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Did Stephen Harper plagiarize former Australian PM John Howard?

The Liberal Party is accusing Stephen Harper of plagiarizing former Australian prime minister John Howard. Even worse (according to the Liberals), it was a speech about sending Canadian troops to Iraq.

"How does a leader in Canada's Parliament, on such a crucial issue, end up giving almost the exact same speech as any another country's leader, let alone a leader who was a key member of George W. Bush's Coalition of the Willing?" said Mr. Rae.

"How can Canadians trust anything that Mr. Harper says now? The decision on whether to commit troops to join the War on Iraq was by far the greatest test leaders across the globe faced this decade. We now know when Mr. Harper faced that test, he not only made the wrong choice, but he made that choice so blindly and carelessly that he ended up delivering a word-for-word repetition of someone else's words and thoughts,” said Mr. Rae.

Here's a pretty damning YouTube of the accusation:

And here's a side-by-side comparison of the speeches.

Apparently, almost half the speech was lifted from former Australian prime minister John Howard. Warren Kinsella is calling this a huge gaffe. It might be, and not only because of the plagiarism issue. It allows the Liberals to rehash Harper's support for the Iraq War, an issue that could and did turn many away from him.

The London Free Press has a relevant article. In response to reporters' queries during an off-the-record teleconference, the Conservative campaign implied that a former speech writer is to blame for the plagiarism.

It's also clear the campaign really, really didn't want to discuss the issue.

UPDATE: For an example of Liberal plagiarism, the Western Standard reported on some a while back.

UPDATE2: Owen Lippert takes full blame for plagiarizing:

"In 2003, I worked in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition," Owen Lippert said in a statement released by the Conservative campaign Tuesday afternoon.

"I was tasked with - and wrote - a speech for the then leader of the Opposition. Pressed for time, I was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader's speech. Neither my superiors in the office of the leader of the Opposition nor the leader of the Opposition was aware that I had done so."

UPDATE3: Liberal Party is not buying the plagiarizing story. Here's their press release:


A former Conservative staffer, Owen Lippert, has taken responsibility for “copying segments” of a speech given by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard into a speech Stephen Harper gave just 35 hours later in the House of Commons.


The story does not add up, and took seven hours to concoct. Here are some “life experiences” that suggest that Mr. Lippert would likely be adverse to plagiarism:

  • Mr. Lippert is a former Fraser Institute Director who has published articles on intellectual property rights. For example in 1999, he wrote a book called, Competitive Strategies for the Protection of Intellectual Property. And in 2000, he edited and contributed to another book called, Competitive Strategies for Intellectual Property Protection (Fraser Institute, February 2000).
  • He has written articles that have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Post, Globe and Mail, among others.
  • He was a former member of the Globe and Mail’s editorial board.
  • He also holds a PhD in European History from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana and a B.A. from Carleton College, Minnesota.
  • He is currently employed as Senior Policy Advisor at the Canadian International Development Agency.
  • He was supposedly Mr. Harper’s “trade and immigration policy advisor” at the time the speech took place. (Owen Sound Sun Times, May 29, 2004)

When asked directly if Owen Lippert plagiarized the essay on CTV Newsnet this evening, Conservative spokesperson Ken Bossenkool would not confirm the charge of plagiarism: “Well, like I said, the employee has released a statement. I think the statement stands for itself.” (CTV Newsnet, September 30, 2008)

Mr. Harper must take at least some responsibility for the very words that come out of his mouth.    

Posted by Terrence Watson on September 30, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Bob Rae is over the top. Why doesn't he just let it all hang out and say "Stephen Harper should be horse-whipped and then shot"?

Hopefully it will play against the libs.

Posted by: DCM | 2008-09-30 1:59:25 PM

Shouldn't the Greens sue the Dippers for plagiarizing their platform too? They can't do that for the Liberals because the Greens received their platform from their corporate masters.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-09-30 2:07:11 PM

Did Stephen Harper plagiarize former Australian PM?
Posted by Terrence Watson on September 30, 2008

Another reason to hate all things Canadian?

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-09-30 2:09:57 PM

The Conservatives are scary. yeah yeah yeah.

What a snoozefest this election is. Will someone set an alarm clock for October 14th please?


Posted by: epsi | 2008-09-30 2:10:04 PM

Well if Bobby Rae, Mo Strong's "nephew", says it's so, it must be, he's such a leaned man. If he wants to discuss history let's go back to "Rae Days" when he bankrupted the province of Ontario.
The man has more gall than substance.
It's rather sad to see the former Dipper trying to resurrect the carcass of the once mighty Liberals, waxing historical, instead of dealing with current events and the situations facing us today.

It tells us they're bankrupt in every sense of the word. Bankruptcy is something Rae is experienced with.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-09-30 2:26:14 PM

Is this REALLY the most important thing to discuss when trying to decide the best person to run our country?

All parties buy their speeches nowadays. Some overzealous staffer copied someone else. Big deal.

Real issues, please.

Posted by: Q | 2008-09-30 3:00:41 PM

Did Bob Rae plagarize Karl Marx?

Posted by: set you free | 2008-09-30 3:07:58 PM

Why didn't you report this? It's BIG news in Ohio where you live. And just as pointless as Harper allegedly plagiarizing a speech.


Posted by: The Stig | 2008-09-30 3:20:58 PM

Stig, dude, you've got to let some things go. I'm not going to get overly biographical, but my attitude to Canada has softened up a bit over time, for at least a few reasons:

1. The resistance many Canadians showed to the HRC menace. Should have been more -- and I was harping on the HRCs back when I was an undergrad (nobody was listening then) -- but the backlash has been good.

2. Stephen Harper becoming prime minister (that happened after I left.)

3. Pierre Lemieux. Talk about a libertarian's libertarian. And when he says Canada has a tradition of liberty, I take him seriously.

As for Ohio, I was going to report on the attack on a mosque in Dayton that occurred the other day. But at least your story of the drunken woman wearing a cow suit was entertaining.

In libertarian land, people will be able to wear cow suits without being subject to police harassment.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-09-30 3:36:33 PM





Posted by: John V | 2008-09-30 3:51:50 PM

Could it be an insect like, hive mentality?
Or just a campaign writer trying to score some points?

Posted by: JC | 2008-09-30 4:18:29 PM

Perhaps Dion could explain where he got the idea to call his carbon tax the "green shift".

Posted by: Rob | 2008-09-30 4:54:04 PM


He plagarized a trade name?

Or plagarized David Suzuki text and posted it on the Lib site as his own?

Hmmm. This could get interesting.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-09-30 6:33:48 PM

Oh No!

Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada has so much in common with John Howard's Australian Liberal Coalition that one of Prime Minister Harper's speech writers may have plagiarized a bit of one of John Howard's speech writer's speeches!!!

What could Canada and Australia have in common?

Posted by: Speller | 2008-09-30 7:00:39 PM

Of course this is a story. Each and everyday people in the work force have to deal with fraudulent claims, ideas and writings. This generation is slipping into one of complete and utter inauthenticity. And, who is Canada's poster boy for this...our Prime Minister...oh, the pride I feel.

Most of you are friggin hypocrites!

If a student, or heaven forbid, an ESL student plagerized conservatives would be parading him or her out as an example of a cheating lying student/immigrant. But, when your Lord God King Buffo does it the Cons chorus in (ironic considering their hatred for the arts) that this word for word attempt at foreign policy is not an issue.

Besides this proves one issue: Harper was as duped as Dubya...we can only hope that he is smarter than Palin.

Posted by: Tom | 2008-09-30 9:17:35 PM

Give us a F###ing break...is this the best of the latest smears that the liberal/media alliance have got. The word desperate comes to mind, do the liberals and the media really think this is an issue of any substance, or will have any resonance with canadians. Why was that vile creature Bob Rae spewing this bile? Where's Dion? Taking some Rae days perhaps... Using parts of a speech from 5 years ago to somehow insinuate that the Tory's are involved in some kind of conspiricy? What the... This is the same time line that saw the Liberal party involved in one of the worst criminal schemes this country has ever seen in ADSCAM! It's perfectly okay for Dion and the liberals to poach enviromental policy from the likes of Suzuki and claim it as their own, thats just fine. The double standard is giving me a headache! Bring on the election already and stop with this ridiculous deflection of the real issues. The next time I see Bob (Power Corp.) Rae getting naked with some CBC Liberal mouthpiece and jumping into a lake, i hope he doesn't resurface.

Posted by: Sean | 2008-10-01 1:01:40 AM

"If a student, or heaven forbid, an ESL student plagiarized conservatives would be parading him or her out as an example of a cheating lying student/immigrant."
Tom | 30-Sep-08 9:17:35 PM

Tom, Stephen Harper isn't a student who is trying to prove he has achieved in his studies.

Chances are that Stephen Harper's speech writer didn't even plagerize from John Howard's speech writer at all.
The speeches may have originated from a common American speech writer and been sent to both Howard and Harper to read in their respective Parliaments.

And why not?
Their Iraq policy is all on the same page, as they say.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-01 9:17:25 AM

Canada needs truthful committed leadership not posers. When Rae was Premier he could have intervened in a plagiarism case at U of Waterloo but lacking integrity and leadership he did nothing so fraud could be covered up and cancer research suppressed. How many have died that shouldn't have see, www.cancerfraudbadbiotech.com the 2008 White Section and decide for yourself. As for Mr Harper, go to the Gold Section and see the warnings on how failing to enforce the law and federal regulations will endanger the public safety. And even after he is warned that his own family is also endangered he did nothing. This was before the Maple Leaf food poisoning case. This is not about plagiarism it is about content , or the lack of content and commitment to seeing that standards and mandates and the law are enforced so EVERYONE is safe. So everyone is treated equally under the law. And no one escapes justice. Have either man pledged to this? No! Both are posers. What do you think? Thank you. E.A.Greenhalgh

Posted by: e.a.greenhalgh | 2008-10-01 2:44:06 PM

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