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In his Owen words


 

Oh for goodness sake. I’d like to join the pileon over Stephen Harper’s alleged plagiarism, but really…

1. If Harper had knowingly plagiarized, in Parliament, a highly-publicized speech by a sitting Australian Prime Minister, delivered just 36 hours before, it wouldn’t call into question his judgment — it would call into question his sanity. It was crazy enough when Joe Biden did it, a hundred million years ago (I’m estimating). But this was in 2003, well into the age of the internet. Is it really to be imagined, knowing everything we know about Harper, that he would be so foolish as to think he would not get caught?

2. Since when does Harper need to steal anyone’s words, or thoughts? He’s famously opinionated, and notably articulate. I’ve read his stuff over the years – newspaper articles, magazine pieces, speeches. He has an unmistakeable voice, a clear writing style, analytical sharpness. If he hadn’t been a politician, he’d have been a fine pundit. So if he wrote the speech in question, it would be an odd departure, to say the least, for him to suddently start borrowing whole paragraphs from another person, even ignoring point 1.

3. But of course, he didn’t write the speech in question, if we believe the confession of poor Owen Lippert. Certainly, it is more persuasive to me to think that as the newly elected opposition leader, with a million other things on his plate, Harper would have started using a speechwriter, rather than write them himself. I saw Bob Rae on the CBC puffing himself up over this, as if that were the scandal. Sorry, Bob: I’m prepared to think better of politicians who write all their own speeches, but I can hardly think ill of those who don’t, since that’s almost every politician there is. 

4. So to believe this is a big deal, you have to ignore points 1, 2, and 3. That is, you have to think that Harper is insanely reckless, insecure enough about his own thoughts and expressions to steal someone else’s, yet not so insecure as to hire a speechwriter. And you have to think that Owen Lippert is lying, and that Harper is lying about Lippert.

Alternatively, you can believe that a harried speechwriter took a shortcut. In which case, how is that a reflection on Harper? 

Looking at the speech he delivered, I’m just upset at being reminded how far he’s fallen since then. The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation — even if it was somebody else’s words. I’ve no idea how the Harper of 2008 would respond.


 

In his Owen words

  1. “well into the age of the internet.”

    Stopped reading here. Do you even know what you’re talking about anymore? What do you remember about the “age of the internet” in 2003?

  2. Well, here I recognise Andrew Coyne !

  3. Well said, Andrew.

    Do you think Bob Rae writes all of his speeches? Personally, I think any Leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister that writes his own speeches has not learned to delegate properly and has no business being in that job.

  4. Huh? What on earth do you mean?

    I mean you’re an idiot. I suppose I shouldn’t be so cryptic.

  5. I mean, look at this garbage:

    “The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation — even if it was somebody else’s words. I’ve no idea how the Harper of 2008 would respond.”

    Are you insane, Coyne?

  6. Your last paragraph is very honest.

    Today I just felt that this election might once again divy out according to spoils. I don’t know if that’s what we want. I don’t think that’s what Canada needs.

    And you’re right, Harper has to speak out of conviction first and foremost. I believe that to be his strong point. He does have a straight head on his shoulders, aferall. After all??

  7. If the Liberals manage to drag Harper through the mud by invoking the latter’s moral support (and some would add military support) for the Iraq invasion 5 years ago, while successfully derailing Harper and Layton’s attempts to keep the debate on economic policy, it would be a new low for Canadian politics (even though we hit a new one each day).

    Liberals have argued that Harper has no intention on debating policy in this campaign, but has instead opted to focus on optics, boutique tax measures and crime fighting. I guess the Liberals can no longer claim the higher ground on staying focused and articulating their plan. Instead, they’ve hit rock bottom through this desperate smear attempt that only outs a lazy speech-writer. Ouch.

    Thanks Bob Rae. I lived in BC through Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh, and I can’t wait to see you ruin Canada like you ruined Ontario.

  8. I can agree with all your points until it comes to the last paragraph. That last paragraph is nothing if not delusional.

  9. Finally a voice of reason around here

  10. Mercifully, stay on topic, Neil from Calgary. Albertan diatribes are so tedious.

    Am I to understand that after 5 years of this war, after a fabricated casus belli, after a botched post-invasion plan, after Abu Ghraib and after hundreds of incidents of war profiteering and an insolvent America, some Canadians still think this is a just war?

  11. What does me living in Alberta have to do with this?

    Please, enlighten me…

    If it makes you feel better I was born and raised in Vancouver.

  12. What I’m shocked about is that this hasn’t come out earlier! For university students, we are required to scan all assignments into turnitin.com to look for plagiarism. I think the same should apply for speeched. However, it took the Liberals 5 years to catch this! He should be let off because of the amount of time that’s passed. Let’s move on to the real issues please!!!!!

    http://www.abstractionreaction.com

  13. I couldn’t possibly care less, Neil. “Boutique tax measures” sounds definitely Albertan though. Full of attitude and utterly meaningless.

  14. Maybe he is simply just a lazy politician. He has no policy. He has no ideas. Just be kind of the castle. And to look like he’s doing something, he’ll take things apart because it requires no thinking.

    This speech was just a tosser to him. No more, no less.

    And nonetheless a statement of what this guy is about: absolutely nothing.

    Austin

  15. you forgot

    5. The speech was written in the US by Bush’s writers than distributed to Harper and Howard.

  16. Sisyphus (what nationality is that)

    It doesn’t mean one has to agree with Harper’s stand in 2003. One can in fact disagree with it. But that doesn’t mean that Harper’s stand at the time didn’t hold merit. That is the point of debate.

    There is always more than one side to any issue, and as far as I’m concerned, an election should be about presenting one’s side of an issue, any issue, and be able to back it up by sound reasoning.

    Mr.Rae is correct in pointing out that some text was copied from another speech, but then leaves reason behind by piling on all sorts of other stuff. BTW have you noticed that the ‘copying of a few paragraphs’ has already been turned into ‘Harper’s speech’ was copied. That’s a huge jump.

    And besides, how many sentence variations are there to state what Harper had copied, for example: “Over the last four months we have seen no evidence to suggest that Saddam Hussein will willingly comply with resolution 1441.”

    Any suggestions??

  17. What’s with you people? Is it that difficult to have a decent debate about anything? Anything at all?

  18. Amen to points 1-4.

    Re: your last point, I think/hope Harper has wised up since 2003. Wide-eyed idealism is fine for pundits; incredibly dangerous for national leaders.

    Besides, I think Harper’s support for the Iraq War was grounded in his (since badly shaken) reflexive faith in the US/UK alliance. He’s not a neocon by any stretch.

  19. Ti-Guy, if you’re going to be a complete asshole with no arguments, technorati says there are somewhere above 112 million other blogs on the internet that you could spend some time at instead of polluting this one.

  20. Is Lippert stealing big chunks of text without prior approval from Howard’s people more or less believable than him getting permission… or, perhaps, permission was offered from the start. Whose text is it. Was it boilerplate proffered by a third party (the U.S.)? Its not so far fetched, after all the U.S. State Department would have been ordered to line up the “willing” and certainly Stephen was “willing”, as was Howard. It seems more than likely that State sent out a Iraq War II Support-In-A-Box kit to conservative politicians in the usual allied countries. Perhaps they weren’t so condescending as to think they needed to enclose instruction “Don’t use this verbatim!”.

    Dr. Owen Lippert is something of an expert on intellectual property protection.

    It is not credible that a lettered and published expert on intellectual property protection would himself then steal in a substantive manner the intellectual property of a world leader who had, only two days prior, spoken the very same words.

    What the Liberals are saying – that Harper effectively was outsourcing foreign policy to a foreign power – perhaps even the U.S. itself – has a ring of truth in it.

    Of course Harper wasn’t outsourcing… he was in full agreement with the U.S. position of the day. In that context Harper is not a pit bull but a lap dog.

  21. “What’s with you people? Is it that difficult to have a decent debate about anything? Anything at all?”

    Dude (Dudette?), I wrote you a good long answer on another thread about 2003 and Iraq. Stay in one place and we can debate all night!

  22. I’m sorry.. I thought I was at Maclean’s, not the Western Standard.

    Iraq was a just war, Andrew? You’re serious?

  23. Back on topic a tad. Though this controversy is amusing to me.. I think its more concerning when Harper and the Conservatives claim on their website or in public that experts support their policies, when there can be nothing further from the truth, such as John Baird doing so with Al Gore and then Marc Jaccard – and now the Conservative website and Harper doing so with Justice Merlin Nunn on his youth crime proposals – causing Nunn to publicly condemn the proposal with 14 year olds and adult sentencing.

  24. The worst blog post I have read in a while. Please give me back my 2 minutes.

    “The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation — even if it was somebody else’s words. I’ve no idea how the Harper of 2008 would respond”

    Pathetic!

  25. “Maybe he is simply just a lazy politician.”

    I have never heard (read) any of Harper’s detractor’s call him lazy before. I guess all the other invectives have been done to death.

  26. “I’ve no idea how the Harper of 2008 would respond.”

    He would say, “Thank God Chrétien nixed Canadian participation, ’cause otherwise my career would be well & truly over.”

  27. “Of course Harper wasn’t outsourcing… he was in full agreement with the U.S. position of the day. In that context Harper is not a pit bull but a lap dog.”

    Pelosi and 2/3rds of the House Democrats are currently in agreement with Bush’s bailout plan. Phfff… those lapdogs.

  28. Andrew,

    A thought: the plagiarism isn’t terribly important. That’s just embarassing. What is important is Harper’s reaction to the accusation.

    Because Harper spoke those words, in the House of Commons no less, ultimately the responsibility for the content of the speech falls on him, not the speechwriter.

    The reaction shouldn’t have been to throw Mr. Lippert to the wolves, but for Harper to own up to the mistake, and apologize. That would have put the issue to bed.

    Instead, by deflecting the blame, it shows poor leadership on the part of Harper, as it paints him as someone who does not take responsibility for his team.

  29. According to the requirements of just war theory (just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, last resort, proportionality of ends, proportionality of means), Iraq would not qualify as a just war. This has been documented extensively in the academic literature on humanitarian intervention and just war theory.

  30. Steve M: Pelosi? Different context, topic, year. No value in even acknowledging that tangent.

    Johnny, you’ll never see Harper own up to such an error because he’d be admitting that his thoughts are not his own – the full and complete death of S. Harper the politician follows thereafter.

    Personally I wouldn’t believe in that admission even if it was forced out of him. The simple answer being more likely: he and his team were willing accomplices in selling the Iraq war to citizens at home, and doubly willing to be seen by the White House to be doing so.

  31. Ok, there’s some good chance that you are right in some of your points — putting aside the fact that he and the party flagged this speech to newspapers and pamphlets as his own.
    But just maybe, maybe this is a glimpse at the human and not so shiny side of the Harper that nobody knows.
    Taken on their own, there’s nothing really remarkable about: a) Harper saying one thing and doing the exact opposite ie income trusts, appointing senators and putting them into cabinet, making an election law and proceeding to break it for the exact reasons he installed it.
    b) being the leader at a time when there is a possible attempt at entrapment in the Grewal-Dosanjh tape incident (has the full story about who tampered with THAT tape come out yet, Andrew?), making a firm declaration that NO one offered a former candidate anything for stepping aside, then having the party accept almost that fact in court, discussing with a reporter the fact that a dying MP was offered something for his vote (as long as it “wasn’t for print” but a Cadman approved biography).
    c) his apparent need to be the centre of attention – a strong leader over a weak caucus, maybe; but what’s this about all the Harper pictures installed in the halls of Parliament? Removing all the other photos of others? Narcissistic or something else?
    d) Harper’s serious lack for taking responsibility, an anti-Martin move if you will. He acted more like a betrayed lover in the Bernier affair, danced throughout the Afghan prisoner issue, denied responsibility in the repatriated soldiers’ debaucle, refused to dump cabinet ministers O’Connor and Ritz for removable offences.
    Individually, as I said, these are just ‘things’ that could be easily explained. Together, it could illustrate a similar characteristic that struck John Kennedy and Gary Hart (tho their weaknesses were in the libido area, but their overall issue was that they never felt they could be caught).
    No, I’m not a psychologist nor do I play one on the internet. But I think Harper’s habit of evading answers in these and more situations, while also evading responsibility, seems pretty culpable.
    And i also strongly disagree with your last graph regarding Iraq. There isn’t a lawyer in the world who could convince a jury without a doubt that the invasion was a just war.

  32. Andrew, with all due respect, I think you’re argument has multiple major problems:

    I. After a soundly rational critical treatment of the ‘Harper pile on’ you say “Alternatively, you can believe that a harried speechwriter took a shortcut. In which case, how is that a reflection on Harper?”

    Don’t you think this counter-argument is due the same critical examination? Even if you don’t I will provide it.

    1) A phd grad from an esteemed university thought it was okay to plagiarize a text, a transgression that at this volume, his academic level and an institution of that prominence would have seen him tossed out the front gates sans degree;

    2) Said phd student also seems to have specific expertise on the issue of copyright and intellectual property rights;

    3) Said plagiarizer also has journalistic bonafides at one of the countries two national newspapers where this action would result in termination a la Jayson Blair; And,

    4) He is a political operative who made a (political) judgment that a speech written for among the most sensitive debates that the House has seen in the last 10 years would not merit the kind of scrutiny that would detect that more then half of it was delivered 36 hours prior by the PM of another country. A PM who Mr Harper was being compared to (both positively and negatively) by individuals with varying perspectives.

    So he would ignore all his training, professional experience and expertise, his political judgment and his self-interest (you gonna hire him now?) and copy and paste a large swath of a speech penned by another author.

    I would say this scenario is equally insane, no?

    II. If I was to ignore I. and bought your argument, you ask ‘How does it reflect on Harper?’ He or someone his behalf hired Lippert. He presumably reviewed the draft. He and others in his operation didn’t notice that it was predominantly the same speech delivered by Howard (and pls don’t argue that no one in that operation was paying attention to Howard’s and/or Bush’s speeches etc at that point, or any, point in time). He delivered the speech. They all reflect Harper’s judgment.

    Let’s use an analogy. If you hired tomorrow as the new Maclean’s star blogger (though you all are already excellent) and in my first entry I wrote a libelous or otherwise litigious piece maligning, say for fun Wells, your judgment would sure as hell look poor and be called into question by the brass I expect (or at least by Kady).

    III. Your argument, and my counter, is premised purely on a rational lens. The scenario that has played out surely does not justify that perspective. Once that is appropriately out the window, all bets are off as to explanations.

    I have a great deal of respect for your work, but you are misguided here.

    ps this won’t help with the I like your work point, but the war was not “just”.

  33. It seems that people are getting hung up on Andrew’s suggestion that the war in Iraq was a “just war”.

    If we leave aside the benefit of hindsight, particularly that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction — Andrew is on the money. Harper of 2003, much like the United Nations and their 17 resolutions, NATO and the entire western world’s intelligence agencies believed that a) there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and b) that Saddam Hussein would use them on our allies or let them fall into the hands of terrorists.

    Harper took a principled stance which is more than can be said for Chretien who said we WOULD goto war provided that the mission was supported by the United Nations (who had already passed 17 resolutions threatening Iraq) In essence, Chretien shopped out Canadian foreign policy to France and Russia — and had they agreed — Canada would have been in Iraq.

  34. “The Harper of 2003 supported a just war”

    Right. I think Andrew has phrased this poorly. I think he meant to say “The Harper of 2003 supported what he believed to be a just war”. I don’t think Andrew even knows (or cares) where Iraq is – he is really into deficits, $$$, that sort of thing.

    But I agree with Coyne on the rest of his post. Harper is famous for writing his own speeches.

    Is it possible that John Howard copied Harper’s speech – maybe Harper & Howard were exchanging drafts, and entire passages got jumbled up and entangled in each others soliloquys.

    Like minds think alike, that kind of thing. Possible?

  35. Please, this is serious stuff. There is no way that on the eve of the Iraq war, Mr. Harper, the one man show of his party didn’t have input into that speech. And because the party has changed images, and now wears a blue sweater does not make it irrelevant. Plagiarism is an important issue, more so when what comes out of your mouth have influence over decisions. Where is Mr. Harper’s personal responsibility in this? Why is not standing on some pulpit giving us a lecture on how plagiarism is wrong!!! 5 years and two parties ago seems to matter when it’s something someone from another party has done.
    Stop giving Mr. Harper a free pass. This is the CRAP party with a new sweater. The man in it is the same.
    Why are his candidates not showing up for debates? Why does the P.M. not take questions when they are unscripted? Why do conservative candidates not take questions from the press without guidance from the PM’s office. Why is John Baird who has a lot to answer for not showing up in Ottawa to answer the questions we want answers for?
    This issue is incredibly relevant to the type of man we have allowed this deep into Canadian politics.
    It doesn’t matter who wrote it. He gave it. He’s responsible. He’s the leader of his party!
    Has Mr. Harper ever taken responsibility for anything he and his party have screwed up? Why does Ritz still have his job?
    Just because Mr. Harper only answers questions he wants to answer to, doesn’t mean journalists shouldn’t be hammering every conservative in government with the questions that need answering.
    I’m still waiting for Harper’s open and transparent government.

  36. Now Owen Meaney can put more of his time into writing that Harper hockey book… I hear the couple of chapters recalling his rise as a fresh-faced collegiate rookie leading the Canadiens to the Cup will make great fodder.

  37. “According to the requirements of just war theory (just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, last resort, proportionality of ends, proportionality of means), Iraq would not qualify as a just war. This has been documented extensively in the academic literature on humanitarian intervention and just war theory.”

    My guess is that the academics couldn’t be bothered to assess whether Russia’s invasion of Georgia without UN approval was a “just war” – criticism seems to be narrowly focussed on the United States.

    You may recall that the failure of the UN to prevent the genocide in Rwanda can at least partially be attributed to the diplomats and “academics” arguing over the definition of genocide, and whether the term chould be appropriately applied to the situation in Rwanda — even after CNN was showing footage of women and children being machete’d.

  38. Brian, it’s only been a few weeks since Ossetia – how many dissertations do you expect already? I’m sure it will be studied to death: it’s got all the wrinkles you need (Russian peacekeepers, Russian passports handed out like candy, 20th century backhistory of “autonomy,” heck even the Avar Empire – not to mention Kosovo).

    Don’t accuse the UN of not doing anything in Rwanda. If any of the countries capable of doing so had actually cared to intervene, the UN would have approved. But nobody came forward, to our lasting shame; except France, but they were on the side of the génocidaires.

    Now you’re going to tell us that Dick Cheney would have intervened in Rwanda, I’m sure. Because he cares so much about innocent people being killed.

  39. You said it Andrew. I agree totally in substance. Who cares if someone sampled some content and didn’t deliver it as well.

    I had a very short stint with speach writing for a provincial Liberal and the damn guy modified it.

    Anyway, this ‘scandal’ doesn’t enlighten me about anyone or anything. Pffft.

    What I want is the Calgary School Harper to get us out of the Iraq War, stomp arount TO and Bay Street, eliminate direct funding to artists and directly slander Kyoto as junk science. Oh Well, you can only dream. Kyoto will self destruct on its own very soon and May will have to find a different marker for resource utilization to tax. The rest I will learn to live with ;)

  40. Jack – you’re missing the point entirely.

    And your point about “Don’t accuse the UN of not doing anything in Rwanda” is refuted by the UN itself who finally got around to studying Rwanda and compared it to the Holocaust. The UN was a lot more critical of itself than I was about their own failure to act. H

    Now you’re going to tell us that Dick Cheney would have intervened in Rwanda, I’m sure. Because he cares so much about innocent people being killed.

    Please don’t impugn my motives or morals, your smug self-righteousness is getting the better of you.

  41. Yeah, my “smug self-righteousness.” Have you noticed that anybody who disagrees with you is smugly self-righteous, Brian? Do you know what they call that condition?

  42. According to Le Devoir, out of the 178 lines of Mr. Harper’s speech, at least 79 were absolutely identical (to Howard’s) and 10 were paraphrases. That’s exactly 50% of the content that was reproduced.

    When intergovernmental affairs minister Dion wrote his letters to Le Devoir , did he write them entirely himself – partially himself or…

    I am willing to believe Andrew that Harper is a great speechwriter, but has Andrew ever bothered to ask Harper if he writes most of his speeches? How about Dion, does he write most of his speeches ?

    I don’t expect all politicians to deliver speeches that rival Churchill’s but am I expecting too much to want to hear what a politician thinks when he speaks?

  43. Brian, actually, much of the world didn’t believe there were WMD in Iraq. That was the whole point. The US was presenting its case, but people who were looking at it were going, “what the hell?” and pretty much everybody except for the US was saying, “Let’s hold back and let the inspectors go in and finish the job.” Then Rummy told the inspectors to get the hell out they were about to launch Shock & Awe, and that was the end of any inspections.

    Of course, as usual, what’s kept this alive is the Harper’s inability to admit any fault and perhaps learn from mistakes.

    In this case his response was, “It doesn’t matter, and even if it did that was like 5 years ago and the guy who wrote it isn’t with us any more, and even if he is he’s going to resign anyway, and woo hey, look at those Liberals.. aren’t they desperate?”

    If they wanted to make this a non-issue Harper simply would have come out and said, “This speech was written by a staffer, we don’t know who yet and we’re looking into it. As you know, time was of the essence in the lead up to Iraq, but I still should have ensured that this type of thing did not happen. I should have then, and I assure you that I will both now and in the future.”

    Any further spin after that by the Liberals would have made them seem just petty, but that level of mea culpa from Harper or the party brass just doesn’t exist.

    Do we really want a prime minister who is unable to recognize when they screw up.. and more importantly, not willing to learn from his mistakes?

  44. “The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation…”

    Stupid plagiarism aside (and the incredible fact that no one in the Canadian media spotted this… it was left to the Liberals to spot this glaring speech similarity… apparently Canadian reporters don’t pay much attention to key Australian parliamentary speeches on an impending war)….

    Coyne, you’re totally out to lunch on this one, as clearly demonstrated by this odious line about a “just war”. The Iraq invasion wasn’t a just war in 2003 (apparently you haven’t been reading the dozens of books written about this Bush-led debacle over the last few years), and it still isn’t in 2008. Thousands of American and other coalition troops, and tens of thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of innocent Iraqis have lost their lives for this lie.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  45. So, it must have been Owen Lippert… because Andrew Coyne thinks Harper is AWESOME!!!

    And Harper didn’t support a “just war” he supported an obvious lie and disaster-in-waiting because the Americans were going. It was an act of shameful goveling from a Canadian “leader”

  46. Given what Andrew’s written about the Harper government and the man himself over the past two years, it should be blindingly obvious that he isn’t a cheerleader.

    I’m horrendously naive, but I couldn’t even imagine how big a deal this seems to people for the longest time: that this was the work of a speechwriter was pretty obvious. Then I realized that people actually believe that this is evidence that someone was pumping speeches to world leaders.

    To which I ask: people actually believe that someone would send the SAME speech to DIFFERENT speakers?

  47. T. Thwin: history revisionism may be fun (ie. “Tibet has always been a part of China”), but its anti-intellectual.

    By “much of the world didn’t believe there were WMDs”, you probably aren’t including the United Nations, who sent 17 resolutions suggesting the opposite.

    You probably aren’t including Bill Clinton’s administration or the majority of democrats either, who believed strongly that Saddam had WMDs and intended to use them.

    In any case, its irrelevant. My points about WMDs were in response to Andrew’s statement about Harper taking a principled stance on a just war.

  48. Come on, Andrew – give in and join the pile-on. I’m lying on top of Wells’s knee and Wherry’s elbow is in my eye, but still… FUN!

    As someone who wrote speeches for a political leader for two years, but preferred to do his cribbing from New Zealanders (I’m a sucker for sheep-based metaphor), I was busy last night typing out a whole thing about how it made no sense that a control freak like Harper, taking the contrary and politically risky step of advocating that Canada go to war, would not demand to see even a first draft of the momentous speech he’d be delivering on March 20, 2003 until the day before.

    That doesn’t just defy plausibility, I reckoned. It kicks plausibility in the jewels, steals its wallet and calls its momma a ho.

    But the truth is that Harper was speaking in response to a supply day motion from the Bloc. He probably had 24 hours’ notice of the topic of debate, and certainly no more than 48. So his speechwriter panicked and swiped a lot of the boilerplate history stuff from John Howard’s speech.

    Inconvenient to those determined to see a greater conspiracy here, but likely true nonetheless.

  49. Harper got his opinion about Iraq in the mail and there’s another human shield in the ditch. Hardly even news anymore.

  50. “And you have to think that Owen Lippert is lying, and that Harper is lying about Lippert.”

    Kind of a nobrainer, isn’t it? Lippert is an expert on intellectual property and wrote a book on this subject before the speech-stealing and Harper lies.

  51. To add to what you’ve said:

    only those who desperately believe (or want the public to believe) that Harper is a raving lunatic are pinning this on Harper.

    Since to much of the far left, being conservative qualifies one as worthy of such scorn, it’s understandable that they would feel this way.

    This also explains much of the media conduct in this and other matters of late.

    Now,

    onto raising the status of Coulliard’s every utterance, as holy gospel.

  52. On cue:

    The Globe tells us in a headline:

    “Couillard Told to Trash Nato Briefings, Book reveals”

    Hear that?

    The book “revealed” this pre-existing but till now uncovered truth.

    How nice of the Globe to let us know that they put their credibility on the line by attesting to these otherwise baseless allegations from a jilted lover with both personal and financial motives which would lead an impartial observer to question their veracity.

    Today’s media,

    hastening their extinction with each headline.

  53. It doesn’t matter if Harper did it knowingly or not. At this point he has become an embarrassment anyway not only at home but perhaps as importantly, on the international scene. If the speech was plagiarized from Howard and he knew then he is an idiot, if he didn’t know then he is a bad judge of character for having someone on his staff who would do that. If, as some suspect, both speeches were based on talking points sent out by the white house (which they can never admit) then he’s nothing more than a puppet.

    Just look at how this is playing internationally and tell me honestly that Mr. Harper will have any respect on the world stage after this.

    ITN – United Kingdom: Canada’s PM under plagiarism cloud

    Irish Times – Ireland: Canadian PM’s speech on Iraq war plagiarized

    BBC News: Canada’s PM faces plagiarism charge

    TVNZ – New Zealand: Canada PM’s writer found plagiarizing

    eTaiwan News – Taiwan: Canada’s opposition party says PM plagiarized

    ABC – Australia: Canadian PM accused of stealing Howard speech

    Melbourne Herald Sun – Australia: PM ‘plagiarised’ Howard’s speech

    Sydney Morning Herald – Australia: Plagiarism: a plague in both your houses

    Press TV – Iran: Canada Tories admit copying speech

    Xinhua – China: Canadian PM accused of plagiarizing Australian PM’s Iraq speech

    United Press International: Tories admit plagiarism; strategist quits

  54. How dare you introduce logic to this debate, Andrew!

    So just to make sure we’re all in agreement now: Owen Lippert doesn’t deserve to be PM and nobody should vote for him. Right?

  55. “Looking at the speech he delivered, I’m just upset at being reminded how far he’s fallen since then. The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation”

    I agree 100%. Harper use to know there are no bad reasons when it comes to toppling dictators but I am not so sure anymore.

  56. A question for Kody:

    “Brothers and sisters have I none. That man’s father is my father’s son.” Who was the person in the photograph?

  57. Andrew,

    It doesn’t call into question his judgment or his sanity.

    It calls into question his ethics. No one is saying he is crazy, or stupid – but he is clearly a thief and a liar. Its speaks volumes about our body politic that we don’t get upset when our politicians lie. We only get upset when they lie about Quebec.

    C

  58. So Andrew, you believe:

    a) that Harper innocently received the plagiarized copy from a low-level staffer

    b)that Harper never reviewed the speech that Howard had delivered two days earlier, despite the fact that Howard was one of his heroes, and only one of two leaders of major governments who, like himself, supported Bush’s invasion;

    c) that Harper then delivered large swaths of the proposed text without changing barely a word?

    Have I got all that right, Andrew?

    – JV

  59. “hastening their extinction with each headline.”

    no doubt. I can hear the jackboots from here.

  60. Geiseric,

    you seem to think that old media, trapped in one singular myopic (leftist) world view,

    won’t be replaced by a much more free, diverse form.

    Though the suggestion that anything but “progressive”/leftist, is authoritarian is typical.

  61. The word is you’re looking for is “authoritative” but I can see where you’re coming from.

  62. jwl wrote: “I agree 100%. Harper use to know there are no bad reasons when it comes to toppling dictators but I am not so sure anymore.”

    Let’s not rewrite history here. The argument for invading Iraq was marginally hinged on unseating a dictor, but was justified via WMD and vague charges of harbouring Al Queda.

    And Harper’s argument rested largely on the need to support America and Britain.

    In that respect, the “plagiarism” remains relevant in that it reinforces the charge that Harper is more concerned with belonging to an international club of like minded leaders, than focussing on Candian interests (not a charge I happen to believe too much, but it’s one Harper hasn’t done a good job of countering yet).

    (I won’t even get into the selective outrage the West reserves for some dictators, while having no problem staying friends with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, etc…).

  63. Sean S

    I am not rewriting anything. I well remember the reasons presented for invading Iraq and I thought they were dumb. They should have just said Saddam’s evil and must be removed. I bet old Harper would have agreed with that. Not so sure now, I think there would be lots of humming and ahhing but nothing much would happen.

    And I agree with your selective outrage point, there are lots of leaders who deserve a visit with the hangman’s noose, I just wish their was a leader willing to start the process.

  64. “I saw Bob Rae on the CBC puffing himself up over this, as if that were the scandal.”

    I saw Rae do a few interviews and not one interviewer called him on his, Dion’s and Iggy’s incidents with plagiarism. Why do our journalists and news readers let them get away with this crap? I dream of the day when our journos develop some backbone when it comes to Libs talking bollocks.

  65. Please someone correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Clarity Act that the Liberals promote as their single greatest acheivement in saving Canada (LOL) largely cribed from the work of Harper when he was working with Preston Manning?

  66. Andrew, please go work in the CPC war room. I would love nothing more than to see Conservative talking points calling Iraq a just war.

  67. “largely cribed”

    Harper’s attempt was strictly amateur. The most practical thing about it was to display his distaste for the democratic process.

  68. “Let’s not rewrite history here. The argument for invading Iraq was marginally hinged on unseating a dictor, but was justified via WMD and vague charges of harbouring Al Queda.”

    Yeah I remember that… the whole causus belli turned out to be a giant lie.

    Scott Feschuk made the same point as I was about to write, so I’ll just quote him:
    “I was busy last night typing out a whole thing about how it made no sense that a control freak like Harper, taking the contrary and politically risky step of advocating that Canada go to war, would not demand to see even a first draft of the momentous speech he’d be delivering on March 20, 2003 until the day before.”

    and some other dude make a good point:
    “5. The speech was written in the US by Bush’s writers than distributed to Harper and Howard.”

    Yep, I strongly suspect that’s the case too – the speech was written from the talking points written up by Bush’s speechwriters. I wouldn’t be surprised if Frum actually wrote this speech or something close to it, and gave it Howard first, and also Harper, Blair, and whatever idiot was in charge of Poland at the time.

    Then, Harper got the same “talking points” memo from the White House, and ordered his speech writers to draft something around it. Feeling lazy, the speechwriters simply copied Howard’s speech.

  69. “Yep, I strongly suspect that’s the case too – the speech was written from the talking points written up by Bush’s speechwriters.”

    So instead of just Harper’s speechwriter cutting corners and copying off Howard’s, you think it’s MORE likely that both Harper’s AND Howard’s speechwriters were cutting corners and cheating off Bush’s, without bothering to even do much paraphrasing

    Man, it’s tough to find an honest speechwriter these (those) days.

  70. The cries here from conservatives about the media being pro-Liberal is pathetic, but this has been a sadly effective right wing tactic in the U.S for a long time now, so it is predictable and inevitable that the derivative conservative movement here would adopt the same tactic.

    So things have now got to the point that the PM is caught out plagiarizing a major speech urging us to war that is, in content and in provenance, an embarrassment to him, a disgrace to this country.

    And what happens?

    Our ever-vigilant media, who missed the story for 5 years, are now so intimidated by the Con thugs and their online army of war room attackers, that they accept the Tory line that this just isn’t an issue after all. Time to move on to real issues, like covering soft sweater photo ops.

    How craven can our media get? Their behaviour in this election is sadly reminiscent of how the Bushites intimidated US media and silenced critics of his ill-fated invasion. And we know what happens to Canadian journalists who are targeted by the right wing bloggery, don’t we. No-one really wants to be the next Heather Mallick, do they?

    I’d say Canadians are now being equally-poorly served by our easily-intimidated media as the Americans were by theirs in the run up to Bush’s illegal war. It’s as though media now think the best way to protect free speech is to not exercise it. Especially CBC.

    As for macleans.ca, keep up the good work. For the most part, you are quite out of step with the timid pack that is establishing new lows in what is expected from journalists in Canada. I hope you stay that way.

    – JV

  71. And to Michael Watkins,

    Fine, let’s try a little more on-topic:

    Would Hillary, Kerry, Biden, and all the other Democrats who voted for the war also qualify as Bush lapdogs?

  72. Andrew,

    I don’t buy your premise that it is implausible Harper’s senior staffers would knowingly use Howard’s speech; that only Lippert the speechwriter knew of its origins.

    Harper and Howard shared in common political staffers, electoral and polling experts, demographic communications techniques (FRAN: Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances and Neighbours), even the language and iconography of their campaigns: Howard’s “Battlers” and Harper’s “working Canadians” … both playing by the rules and getting the shaft from cultural elites.

    If the Howard and Harper teams had so much in common on electoral strategy, ideological and even staffing fronts, why must we reject out of hand the idea that they saw no problem with keeping in step with Howard on foreign policy?

    After all, Alliance didn’t have any foreign policy credentials of its own, so they would gain by following Howard’s lead. Like Howard, Harper’s Alliance was OPPOSED to Canada’s Iraq policy, so why wouldn’t his advisors literally sing from the same song sheet as Howard had, gaining much favour with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney in the process?

    Also, keep in mind that Harper’s speech didn’t just share much of the same verbiage as Howard’s; it also shared its logical structure, rationale, interpretations and forecasts. This wasn’t the theft of text; this was an identical declaration of policy, position and belief.

    They may well have a common ancestor document, yet to be uncovered. But their common origins of belief cannot be in doubt given the evidence.

  73. Andrew,

    Perhaps if Stephane Dion, a man you admire, had not shifted the position of the Liberal Party on the Afghanistan war, which they got us into, Mr. Harper would have been in a position to maintain a principled position to your liking.

  74. “…Mr. Harper would have been in a position to maintain a principled position to your liking.”

    A man hangs the military out to dry in the middle of the campaign you’ll have to dig pretty deep to find the principle that prompted him.

  75. “1. Is it really to be imagined, knowing everything we know about Harper, that he would be so foolish as to think he would not get caught?”

    Yes. It took 5 years for someone to recognize the ‘similarities’.

    “2. Since when does Harper need to steal anyone’s words, or thoughts? ”

    The speech in question is widely viewed as one of ‘his’ best.

    “3. I saw Bob Rae on the CBC puffing himself up over this, as if that were the scandal.”

    Your interpretation of Rae’s attitude aside, plagiarizing is not a minor oversight; it is stealing someone else’s words and passing them off as your own. It goes to credibility, integrity, and leadership.

    “4. …you have to think that Harper is insanely reckless, insecure enough about his own thoughts and expressions to steal someone else’s, yet not so insecure as to hire a speechwriter. And you have to think that Owen Lippert is lying, and that Harper is lying about Lippert.”

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    “The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation…”

    The Iraq war is just by nobody’s definition except the minority of those who subscribe to the Bush doctrine.

    “but really…”

    Yes, really.

  76. Kudos to Bob Rae! Well done.

  77. If anyone’s looking for a Canadian who still believes the Iraq war was just, or that it was right to think it just in 2003, you can read Michael Ignatieff’s NY Times article from last summer. He takes just the position, then argues that the only valid criticism of the war was that it could not have been well-implemented, that peace and democracy in Iraw were never likely to follow. Too bad Owen’s been fired or he could cut and paste from this to reply to Andrew’s sorrowful last paragraph.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/magazine/05iraq-t.html

  78. “Kudos to Bob Rae! Well done.”

    oh come on. you know damn well he won at rock/paper/scissors on the is one.

  79. “this one”, that is.

    I want do-overs.

  80. The speech is irrelevant – I don’t care if he copied it or not.

    The subject is highly relevant. We should be debating Harper’s position on when to go to war and when not to (along with the Dion’), what Canada’s long-term military strategy should be, etc. etc.

    A Harper government would have gone against the UN and had us in Iraq with two of our allies.

    A Liberal government put us in Afghanistan.

    There are real issues that the next PM will face – and I’m tired of hearing about puffins and speech copying and leaders who claim other leaders are hoping for a recession and poor-taste jokes above the fold on A1 and the list goes on and on and on.

    Everyone needs to keep their eye on the freakin’ ball instead of focussing on the latest warroom gaffe or Julia Couillard’s memoirs.

  81. Well it’s good to see ONE reporter who doesn’t have his or her (sorry Kady) head up their ass on this issue.

    Holy Crap people! Who cares where the words came from? We are in the middle of a campaign to determine who is going to lead our country NOW.

    I haven’t decided if I agree with your last paragraph Andrew, I’ll think about it for a bit.

    But for all of you with your knickers in a knot, do you REALLY care where the words Harper says come from? Or do you care what he actually DOES as the leader of the country?

    Scratch that, anyone making an issue about this is exposing themselves as a blatant partisan.

  82. You must be kidding.

    Coyne’s bloviating about how Harper “could never have done this” doesn’t ring true. He did. We know. Even if a staffer did it, it’s still on his head, and we don’t know if a staffer did it.

    Coyne’s confident assertion that “he has his own voice” doesn’t ring true. He clearly didn’t. Either somebody wrote the speech for him, Lippert for sake of argument, or he lifted a speech himself. (Or was provided it by Washington.)

    And if he was going to do it with anybody, it would be his idol, John Howard. Harper lifting from Howard doesn’t just make sense, it’s so blitheringly obvious that it makes you want to slap your own forehead and do your best “d’oh!”

    Coyne’s belief that “he’d know that he’d get found out” is just plain ridiculous. Flanagan and Harper were so arrogant about In ‘n Out that Flanagan wrote about it in his book. Of course Harper could think “nobody will know”.

    Even then, in 2003, there was nowhere near the level of internet oppo research that we have now. He had no reason to believe that a Google search would be the ruin of his credibility.

    (And guess what? Until something like 4 days ago, he’d be right! He had got away with it!)

    Once you eliminate the impossible, what remains—no matter how improbable—must be the truth. It is impossible that somebody didn’t lift parts of this speech. It is impossible that he didn’t check over the speech, to align it with “his own voice”. It is impossible that he wasn’t familiar with Howard’s speech, considering his near-worship and friendship towards the man.

    And it’s impossible that a “leader” wouldn’t shoulder the blame for a speech he delivered.

    Whatever remains must be true. And that leaves two options: either he delivered a speech he knew to be plagiarized, no matter who put pen to paper… or both he and Howard were drawing on talking points provided by Washington.

  83. As for “just war”…

    …I would suggest you avoid saying that away from your bully pulpit here, Mr. Coyne. Especially in Iraq. Or America.

  84. Demosthenes and all you other conspiracy theorists.

    Hanlon’s Razor:

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

  85. Besides, how can it be plagiarism when he inserted “Canada” everywhere that “Australia” appeared.

  86. Steve M: “Would Hillary, Kerry, Biden, and all the other Democrats who voted for the war also qualify as Bush lapdogs?”

    Putting aside the issue that this has nothing to do with the topic at all – Harper’s unqualified support for rushing to war with Iraq is beyond debate (and apparently Mr. Coyne has no reservations about going there today if we had the lucky opportunity) no, they were not lapdops. They were meek little bunnies trapped in Bush’s dog run, cornered by ultra-jingoistic political pit bulls, as was virtually the entire American media so cornered and cowed. They all failed to do their real duty, which isn’t blind fealty but honest and earnest service to the nation. There’s no excuse for how politicians *on both sides of the floor*, and the media, abandoned their posts.

    Well, all but Mr. Obama and a few others, including in our country, Mr. Chretien. I was no fan of Chretien at the time, but I had to respect and applaud that decision, though I’d have preferred if the back chatter of anti-American insults at the time were not part of the story as it took away from what was a smart and principled decision.

    For all those who claim this is an old issue, not relevant to the times, *newsflash* the war is still raging.

    And there are those that apparently would do it again in a flash.

    Perhaps Mr. Coyne uses the term “just war” in reference to removing a hated dictator from power. I would remind Coyne that of all the words spoken and written in the 2002/2003 build up to war, the vast majority of self-justifying utterances from Bush and his allies spoke to the terrible threat Hussein posed to *other nations*.

    Of course that was never the case. Operation Desert Fox had been denying air superiority over most of Iraq for many years, ever since Bush I’s Gulf War concluded. Hussein had no functioning air force, Gulf War I had almost completely destroyed his rolling armour, and maritime interdiction continued to restrict what he could bring into the country. He was no threat to anyone, and inspectors were on the ground.

    Better to have kept containment – it *was* working – in place and simply wait until someone on the inside took Hussein out. Economics would eventually cause Iraq to open up and rejoin the league of more functional nations.

  87. “Why does the P.M. not take questions when they are unscripted?”

    I have seen Harper take questions unscripted. Seen it with my own eyes.

    But how about this one: ‘How many leaders take unscripted questions but always answer in a scripted way?’

    Ask Mr.Dion something, anything, about the Green Shift. After he’s done I can look it up in his Green Shift Leaflet, laying here on the desk beside me.

    I worry more about scripted answers than I do about scripted questions.

  88. This is one Canadian who does feel that Iraq was a just war – Saddam should have been taken out in the early 1990’s after Kuwait – instead we got that wimpy UN pulling back when they could have taken out a dictator who caused untold pain, torture and suffering on Iraq for another 13 years. Yeah, I will never be on the side of the UN – that organization has caused more problems in this world.

  89. Mr. Coyne, Usually I don’t agree much with your opinions but in general I respect your honesty. This piece of yours is a disgrace. Any first year university student would be expelled for doing something similar to what Mr. Harper did. In addition Mr. Harper not only repeated the words of the Australian PM in Parliament but he also published them in various US newspapers.

  90. “Huh? What on earth do you mean?

    I mean you’re an idiot. I suppose I shouldn’t be so cryptic.”

    Forget about how utterly ridiculous calling Andrew COyne “an idiot” is, what absence of humanity compels someone to make such a declaration? What would someone think they would gain from doing so? Would it service the larger point they are making?

    I’m boggled.

  91. Too bad Andrew. You have caught the dreaded Leftie Troll disease. It appears that malignancy that identifies itself as ‘Ti-Guy’ has taken to you with all his charms.

  92. Interesting to note that it was Rae that dropped this bomb. Not Dion…oh no, not after the embarrassing ‘borrowing’ of Suzuki foundation literature on his environmental policy and not Iggy, whose own support for the Iraq war is being carefully buried by the Liberals.

  93. Ask Mr.Dion something, anything, about the Green Shift. After he’s done I can look it up in his Green Shift Leaflet, laying here on the desk beside me.

    Are you serious…?!

    My god, man…one would expect that the author of a policy would know it inside out, rather than say “here you can look it up in the pamphlet”.

    That speaks to knowledge and awareness.

    I swear, the extent and degree to which you nubes try to find anything, ANYTHING, makes you all look extremely ridiculous.

    That ability, sir, is talent.

    Austin

  94. Yes indeed Jesse : Bobby R. was the point man on the Speech Writer sink thrown at the PM full of hypocritical self righteous fury he did himself good on that speech .. though it started with a bang and as usual from Bobby R ends with a whimper much like his previous political life before his resurrection as a Liberal. This would be a perfect opportunity for the PM to counter an attack from Stephanie if he has the courage to bring the subject up tonight at the debate as the other Liberals who supported the Iraq war would be the counter foil so this issue is one Dion needs to tread very carefully on especially in Quebec. I think Gilles will this card effectively. More important is when Jack is going to stop attacking the PM directly and zero in on Dion that is the question whether tis nobler indeed to cast the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune (oops I only changed fortune but I’m in a hurry and only a lowly working shmuch so I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt me)

  95. Steven Harper should be expelled from the Conservative party says Stephane Dion. Let him run as an independent (though not of thought). The bonus here is that he can be done with the pack of dinosaurs he is stuck with and they can all sink into the Alberta tar pits where they can properly recycle themselves into something useful.

    Kudos to Stephane Dion for shaking the last few drops of sense on this porcelein issue.

  96. The comments on this board make me smile one of those belly full of beer smiles! Whether it be a Con minority or a Con majority the LPC must rid itself of its Ti-Guy’s and Scott Tribe’s and James Curran…not because they’re whacko’s or anything but because they belong with the NDP and have confused voters who normally would vote Lib if they had any coherent message. And if you dont believe me just look at who was elected the LPC leader and look at the polls….I rest my case.

  97. I would suspect that Harper might be throwing a few lawsuits at all of the people who keep saying he plagiarized something were we not in an election campaign right now.

    And he would be right to do so. The flat out lies are disgusting.

    Many reporters/pundits/leaders of the opposition didn’t even have the brains to use the word “alleged” this time around.

  98. Bobby R! Stephanie! Oh the hilarity. You forgot Lieberal though.

  99. I agree with most of Andrew’s points, but differ only in degree (I’ll stay clear of his closing paragraph, however). Yes there is a difference between someone who delivers a speech, and someone who crafts it.

    Ironically, to make my point that Coyne is not entirely consistent in his arguments – while in 2008 we are “well[er] into the age of the internet” -I couldn’t locate on the Maclean’s site, nor on his now largely abandoned andrewcoyne[dot]com, a column that he wrote on Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech of March 18, 2008. While he gushed over Obama’s speech, claiming he hit all the right notes, he failed to acknowledge that Obama’s golden words in all likelihood were written by someone else (Ted Sorenson protege or disciple one presumes).

    Same with his gushing words about Sarah Palin’s convention speech, whom he described as “The best natural speechmaker since Reagan” (this one I found). Consulting the on-line dictionaries, I have found two interpretations of “speechmaker” -1) One who makes a speech. 2) One who delivers a public speech. One presumes Coyne meant interpretation #2, as her subsequent Couric et al interviews demonstrate that there is no way she cold have written the whole thing (I’ll concede the lipstick joke was probably hers).

    So, I’m willing to give Harper the benefit of the doubt on this one, provided there is a consistency of argument – If one gushes over the oratory skills of a politician in this day and age, at the same time one must acknowledge the word smiths in the background that package the product for mass consumption

    “We’re going to sell Jack like soap flakes” – Joseph P. Kennedy, 1960

  100. Bob Rae doesn’t write his speeches.

    No-one writes his speeches. He just speaks his mind.

  101. mecheng : “I would suspect that Harper might be throwing a few lawsuits at all of the people who keep saying he plagiarized something were we not in an election campaign right now.”

    Right. And that would be followed by John Howard suing Harper for “appropriation of personality” a la the Cadman tapes?

    Just admit it: Harper wasn’t very strong on foreign affairs when he was head of the Alliance (still isn’t his strong suit), and took his lead from conservatives he was fond of … like Howard and Bush. So fond, he often hired the same people they had and, surprise, his team put together a speech using much of Howard’s proclamation, given just two days prior. The shock isn’t that speechwriters plagiarize, it’s that Harper could internalize and so forcefully advocate someone else’s beliefs in only two days.

  102. Coyne says:

    “Looking at the speech he delivered, I’m just upset at being reminded how far he’s fallen since then. The Harper of 2003 supported a just war, and Canadian participation in it, forthrightly and without apology or equivocation — even if it was somebody else’s words. I’ve no idea how the Harper of 2008 would respond.”

    Wow, that is dead on Andrew.

  103. but because they belong with the NDP and have confused voters who normally would vote Lib if they had any coherent message.

    And how exactly have I done that, billg?

    I think Canadians would be better off if some people stopped vilifying other people and stuck to making assertions for which they have credible evidence.

  104. Forget about how utterly ridiculous calling Andrew COyne “an idiot” is, what absence of humanity compels someone to make such a declaration? What would someone think they would gain from doing so? Would it service the larger point they are making?

    I was very tired, Charles. Calling Iraq a “just war” manifests a degree of inhumanity I’m completely incapable of. Calling someone an idiot for having that belief is, in fact, being charitable.

  105. Gee mecheng, so Harper punishes Owen just because he just wanted to vent from having to wear the tight sweater-vest with the frozen smile?

    Where’s the compassion for this poor misunderstood super-genius? Where’s the humanity?

    And yes, I will have to admit that I am taken aback that Harper hasn’t tried to sue everybody involved. At least we can agree on that point.

    Austin

  106. Maclean’s bloggers were so quiet last week that the blog looked like a live blog of the green train, but during yesterday’s Rae Day the bloggers tripped were tripping over each other jump into a s***-storm of crazed insuation.

    You’d expect Coyne to be excitable and Feshchuk to be partisan, but things got so silly that the sanest blog entry is Coyne’s and the sanest posting is Feshuck’s:

    …the truth is that Harper was speaking in response to a supply day motion from the Bloc. He probably had 24 hours notice…his speechwriter panicked and swiped a lot of the boilerplate history… Inconvenient to those determined to see a greater conspiracy here

  107. There’s no conspiracy required to assert that Harper at the very least, is easily gulled.

    But since that’s not really the impression I have of him, I really do suspect something else is going on.

  108. ” a just war” ???? Too bad I had to wait until the last paragraph to see that. If it was in the beginning, I would have not wasted my time on Andrew’s pantings.

  109. Okay, Ti-Guy. I understand. You know that I like too keep things light, which includes a good ribbing, but “idiot” read very strong (see your comments re: villification).

    On the Iraq war, I’ll stay silent except that, on balance, I am happy Saddam Hussein isn’t around funding Palestinian suicide bombers anymore.

  110. But the ads today explain it all….and show the Liberal campaign has gone over the cliff into hyperventilation. They are all sucking on brown bags at this stage.

    Harper/Bush bumper stickers….so this wasnt just waiting or a videotape, was it coming by steamer to Chile and then overland? This was the masterstroke, the coup de grace, the hail mary….all that’s left is the A Bomb and if they pull that one out I think even the Toronto Star will relegate it to the back pages.

    No surprise, co-ordinated effort…about the only co-ordinated thing the Dion campaign has done….to link Bush to Harper. I will at least give the campaign credit for getting this logistically right. Good freaking luck on it making a difference. The Liberal campaign is drinking its own bathwater at this point and are engaging in a campaign so self indulgent and mastubatory that they seek to please only themselves. Bush isnt relevant to this election, the Iraq War isnt relevant to this election, do they think its 2003?

    I dont kow know if this is worse than, “Soldiers in our streets we arent making this up”, or not.

    I look forward to Dion screeching about Busharper tonight, you can probably gather all the troother votes in the country together with this campaign. Welcome ladies and gentleman the leader of the opposition, Mr Jack Layton.

    The Globe, of all things, placed the story on page 13, even with a hyperventilating column from Lawrence, I heart Stephane, Martin talking about a momentum changer. Wonder if Lawrence and Eddie called each other nasty names when that decision was made….this is the moment I wish there were sources within the Globe leaking to a place like Drudge.

    The debate tonight should be a howler as Stephane increasingly recognizes he has led the troops to disaster.

    Sauve Qui Peut!!!

  111. Scott Feschuk wrote that Harper was “speaking in response to a supply day motion from the Bloc. He probably had 24 hours’ notice of the topic of debate, and certainly no more than 48. So his speechwriter panicked and swiped a lot of the boilerplate history stuff from John Howard’s speech.”

    Really Scott? So you figure that Harper and his speech team were the only sentient beings on the planet who didn’t know that the invasion was imminent, and knew that he would therefore be called on as Leader of the Opposition to speak to it in the House when it occured?

    The more one thinks about this, the more likely it seems that both Howard and Harper were using, unknown to each other, identical material supplied by the neocon cabal in Washington. That’s the only explanation that makes sense.

    So I guess the point isn’t that it was plagiarism, but that it was exactly what Bob Rae said it was: proof that Harper had no independent voice on the matter, and just mouthed whatever the Bushites sent him.

    Now there’s a real leader, eh?

    – JV

  112. If Harper DID NOT write that speech and DID BORROW most of it then why does he not admit he did that? Why does the poor sap that wrote it fall on his sword bit Harper not acknowledge that fact? Haroer sure has no troubles taking the “atta-boys” that were heaped upon him after he delivered these words in Parliamen. Why now when the cat is out of the bag does Harper, the leader, the one that takes decisive action, why does he not stand-up before the electorate and admit it was not his material and take responsibility for the speech “he” delivered but had not put a single word into?

    I have no problem with Harper demonstrating his leadership qualities and showing us what he “says” he is made of. Come on, Harper, fess up, it’ll be good for the soul (and good for the electorat to hear that the emperor really does have no clothes!).

  113. I actually agree with Scott Feschuck, and considering that he is a former Paul Martin speechwriter, I think he knows what he is talking about.

  114. I wrote
    at 3:05
    “you can probably gather all the troother votes in the country together with this campaign”

    JV wrote at 3:13
    “The more one thinks about this, the more likely it seems that both Howard and Harper were using, unknown to each other, identical material supplied by the neocon cabal in Washington. That’s the only explanation that makes sense”

    Wow, that only took 8 minutes to come true…..Building 7 its all about Building 7!!

  115. I am afraid that Andrew Coyne’s unrepentant, misguided, and over the top defence of PM Harper’s plagiarism – yes he is ultimately responsible since the buck stops with him – displays excessive partisanship and unprofessional journalism. He laments Harper’s lose of principle while failing to see his own disregard for principle
    Andrew knows deep in his heart and mind that this story undermines Canadians’ already limited trust in Mr Harper. For partisans, the best defence is always an all out offense.
    I do agree with Andrew that Harper has tried valiantly to bury his very hawkish approach to Iraq with obfuscating language and a misguided promise to les Québécois et Québécoises to respect the 2011 end of mission date for the CAF. Harper did so without consulting Canada’s NATO Allies. The fixed date was imposed on him by Stéphane Dion and Harper was visibly angry at having to accept it.
    Harper’s plagiarized advocacy to get Canada into Iraq will probably deny him his cherished majority. Now les Québécois et Québécoises have yet another reason not to trust Harper. Harper, they understand, does not share in any way, shape or form their values.
    Harper’s recognition of les Québécois et Québécoises as a nation was a cheap ruse. With a majority, the Québécois believe that Harper is quite likely to succumb to pressures from the US and other NATO allies to extend the mission, especially if the current negotiations with the Taliban fail and the war expands into Pakistan as it seems it already has.
    Just as important, plagiarism is plagiarism. University students get expelled for this sort of unethical behaviour. Authors are taken to court for aledged plagiarism and some are found guilty and fined.
    There must be consequences for PM Harper’s highly unethical behaviour in this important matter! It is not enough to fire an underling. Canadians should think hard before voting for CP candidates.

  116. comment by Brian on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm:
    “I actually agree with Scott Feschuck, and considering that he is a former Paul Martin speechwriter, I think he knows what he is talking about.”

    Um, Brian, I’m a former speechwriter and can assure you that, contrary to Mr. Feschuck’s point, no speech on foreign policy — especially one addressing military actions — is just slapped together without being throughly vetted. I’ve been through the draft and redraft sessions, the fact-checking and the “murder boards”. This wasn’t a speech to the local Rotary Club, and Harper was up on his feet 30+ times on this issue during the period of this speech.

    I think the most telling aspect of this affair is that it’s quite likely Harper’s Alliance staff would consider using a speech already delivered by John Howard … as if that were the same thing as vetting. That is, for their purposes and in their world view, Howard and Bush were the gold standards to be measured against on this issue, so using Howard’s text was a form of vetting. Just not the kind we’d hope for from a Canadian party leader trying to demonstrate he’s was PM material.

  117. For those nattering on about Rae delivering the critique:

    He’s the foreign policy critic. Criticizing Harper’s foreign policy is his job. See, regular leaders do something called “delegate”. It’s when you allow someone else to do something, instead of doing it yourself. Harper doesn’t do that much, so I can see why you’re a bit confused. (Though Bush does it an awful lot, so I’d think you’d be familiar.) But trust me, Rae’s involvement was perfectly logical.

    (More than, say, the idea that someone who doesn’t allow ministers to act without direction and supervision would grant the same freedom to his lowly speechwriters.)

    And I notice that—though Coyne rails against the “empty” election on a regular basis—he seems to have written not one jot or tittle about the rest of Rae’s speech on the Republican-style foreign policy that Harper inflicted on Canadians. Interesting, that. Maybe he’s saving it for that thing he does for the CBC.

  118. Um, Oh Boy, don’t jump so fast. I’m a former speechwriter too and I wrote drafts of speeches on foreign policy for Liberal governments so I also know what I speak of. Some of the speeches I was involved in were also written on the fly.

    I think you are confused aboout the issue. No one is challenging the substance of what was said – which is what needs the fact-checking especially if the speaker is speaking on behalf of government. Don’t forget Harper was in opposition, not government at the time.

  119. No one ever thinks what would have happened in Iraq, the Middle East, and the wider world if the U.S. had climbed down from its threat to invade Iraq, and let the U.N. resume issuing resolution after useless resolution?

    Fortunately, Coyne does (and did here).

    The great majority out there somehow believe that things would play out all nice and neat if the U.S. had just taken their finger off the trigger. For them, actions (or lack of action) yield no subsequent reaction.

    Seems to me these are the same sort of people who will only go to war when it’s the only option left. Thing is, when it gets to that point, it’s millions (instead of thousands) that have to die before the issue is settled.

    So while you’ll only ever have a fraction of the populace onside in the limited “luxury” war, rather than near full support in the “existential” war, the difference in the ultimate tally of dead outweighs any harm done to any democratic leaders’ legacy and support ratings.

  120. does harper need a speechwriter? i’ll be his speechwriter

  121. No doubt you’re right, KRB, that it’s better to fight necessary wars early rather than late; I can’t quite think of an example to back you up, but it rings true.

    The question is how you decide which wars are necessary and which are reckless wars of choice.

    In the case of Iraq, we had a concerted campaign of manipulation on the part of the Bush administration to convince us that there was a real threat which should be nipped in the bud. Turns out that was a complete fabrication. Looks like there actually is a danger of leaders dragging their countries into optional wars through deception – gee, who knew? – and that was the main objection at the time to the Bush position. It didn’t smell right. It was not backed up by real evidence, just “Trust us, we know. Oh baby, we know.”

    And actually it turns out that hundreds of thousands of innocent people are dead as a result, if you want to play the numbers game.

    The right way to do it would have been to wait for Hans Blix and his inspectors to finish inspecting Iraq’s facilities. Instead Bush told them to get out, whether because Rumsfeld just wanted to fight right away (which he did) or because, conceivably, the thing he dreaded most of all was for Blix to come back and say, “We’re thoroughly checked everything and Iraq is in compliance.” That would have been a real bummer for Karl Rove.

    It’s rather incredible that your ilk are still blaming the UN for the Iraq disaster. I think that’s pretty much case closed by now, boyo.

  122. David Frum wrote the original White House draft, I’ll wager. Can someone ask his wife…?

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