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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Speech Was Plagiarized, Not The Policy

Let’s be 100% crystal clear: this Liberal ambush on Stephen Harper’s 2003 speech on Iraq has nothing to do with plagiarism. If Harper had been caught reading a speech cribbed from Barack Obama or Al Gore, no one would have cared – except maybe card-carrying Conservatives.

But the speech was John Howard’s, and the topic was Iraq, so the speech serves as a convenient way for the Liberals to revive past battles by injecting toxic subject matter into the current one (the Toronto Star, dutifully as ever, even reproduced the full texts on its website. Purely for comparing the text, of course. Not the content. Heavens no.)

Apparently, the Liberals have run out of Harper’s current positions to attack; they are now resorting to traveling back in time. This sort of thinking leads to some exciting historical hypotheticals. What if Harper had been PM during the 1995 referendum? Would Trudeau have brought in the draft during WWII? Would Pearson have killed the Avro Arrow project? And so on. All very interesting questions to ponder. And all quite irrelevant to the current campaign.

But it’s not about the speech, argue some. It’s about the fact he was copying foreign policy. But was he? The policy wasn’t plagiarized; the speech was. The speech follows the policy, not the other way around, unless you really want to believe that Stephen Harper had no position on the issue until he took a phone call from Canberra.

So what people really mean to say is that they don’t like the fact Harper agreed with the Americans, Australians, Britons, Japanese, Italians, Danes, Dutch, Koreans etc, at the time. Fine – so why not just say so, and drop the pretence over this plagiarism business? And yes, I get that many people are disturbed that Harper’s position on Iraq seems to have conveniently evolved over time. But for God’s sake, whose hasn’t? And for that matter, we don’t seem to hold Elizabeth May to her openly pro-life baggage, or Stephane Dion’s to his miraculous conversion from opponent of a carbon tax to its biggest cheerleader. Indeed, the explanation for the latter seems to be that he simply ‘changed his mind’. Alright then. So suppose Stephen Harper changed his on Iraq. Is that not good enough?

Or how about we ask the attack dog himself on this very point, about lessons he’s learned from experience? Bob Rae would have us believe that he’s much the wiser, having steered Ontario’s economy into the toilet during his fluke single-term premiership. Indeed, he almost wears it as a battle scar, a badge of honour, proof that he’s no longer so naïve as to believe those same silly things he did 15 years ago. You would think someone who is attempting to rehabilitate his political legacy from poor decision making in the past would be a little more charitable to an opponent who has clearly shares the attribute of reflection and reconsideration.

But again, this is not about plagiarism, or flip-flops. It is about the Liberals running out of time, and out of options.

Posted by Aaron Wudrick on October 1, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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This has got to be the most biased article I have ever seen. Again the tories take no responsbilty for anything. And yes Canadians would have cared if it was Obama. Have you been blind to the blogs lately?

Posted by: Mick | 2008-10-01 8:20:24 AM

The whole "if it was (fill in the blank) quoting (fill in the blank), leftists would love it" line is just meaningless filler. If donkeys were airplanes, pigs could whistle. Try and stay on the point. The speechwriter has already lost his job over this, (I know, he resigned, I can picture it, "here's your hat and what's your hurry?") so it seems to have some traction five years later.

Furthermore, whatever finetuning Harper does now to his position on the disastrous Iraq adventure--and thank god he wasn't PM in 2003--is irrelevant. As you correctly point out, that's the past. I'll give you that one. What matters is the future, and what our next PM is going to do the NEXT time we are invited on an armed foray overseas. Iran anyone? Syria perhaps? One thing for sure, having just proposed $490 BILLION in military spending over the next 20 years, Harper isn't looking to stand us down to our traditional "honest broker" peacekeeping role in international affairs.

I don't trust the Liberals on this either, but at least Chretien had the gumption to say no when we were pressured to enter the Iraq fiasco. Harper was still saying we should have gone there when he was running for leadership of the "new" Conservative party. That is fact.

And Rae's record as Ontario premier 15 years ago is utterly irrelevant to this topic.

Posted by: Bill Cameron | 2008-10-01 8:48:37 AM

Go to R.Ian MacDonald in the Montreal Gazette today
for his take on the underhanded manipulation of an ancient speech by Robert "Bob" Rae,worst Provincial Premier in Canada's history.We managed to save our group of companies from extinction by moving them all out of Toronto, and focusing our development projects in Atlantic Canada and the State of New York.Rae almost put Ontario out of business,but
McSquinty will prove to be equally as bad or worse. MacLeod 1 October 2008

Posted by: jack MacLeod | 2008-10-01 8:56:23 AM

"Iraq fiasco"?, Mr. Hussein and his psycopathic sons would disagree;

"our traditional "honest broker" peacekeeping role in international affairs"
another left wing Canadian myth; Canadians are fighting soldiers not social workers; this "Peacekeeping" crap is laughable

Posted by: x2para | 2008-10-01 12:05:05 PM


Posted by: Marc | 2008-10-01 2:15:23 PM

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