Canadian PM accused of stealing a speech on Iraq
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Canadian web users are in hysterics about prime minister Stephen Harper's latest slip-up, just two weeks before the national party elections. The news is out that in 2003 he copied, almost word for word, a speech on Iraq from former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Read more and watch the speech.
Canadian web users are in hysterics about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's latest slip-up, just two weeks before the national party elections. The news is out that as an MP in 2003 leading the opposition, he copied, almost word for word, a speech on Iraq from Australian prime minister John Howard.
Canada is in full election swing. Tonight the leaders of the five major parties will come face to face for a televised debate in French, and tomorrow in English. The favourite, current prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party Stephen Harper, will have to defend himself against an attack launched by one of the Liberal Party leaders, Bob Rae. Rae has accused him, supported by video evidence, of stealing a pro-Iraq war speech from former Australian prime minister John Howard. Today his aide took full responsibility for the blunder and resigned. He admitted that the speech had been plagiarised but said that it was his fault, and that Harper was unaware of the transgression.
Posted on YouTube by "liberalvideo".
The transcripts from both tapes can be found on the Liberal Party's website.
"The affair will be harmful for the Conservative Party's campaign"
Journalist Laurent Soumis is one of our Observers in Montreal.
These video clips will certainly steal the limelight away from the political manifestos, right at the end of the run up to the elections. After the trouble caused by the advert against the culture budget cuts, the prime minister now has to deal with this mess. The video was circulated on Tuesday morning. The footage was shot on 20 March 2003, when the then-leader of the opposition argued in favour of Canada's military involvement in the Iraq war. As we know, Canada said no in the end. But Australia said yes.
Yesterday morning, liberal politicians revealed the second part, in which former Australian prime minister John Howard gives practically the same speech, two days earlier. When you watch the two versions together, the two men seem to speak in time, practically to the same rhythm.
You can't really imagine a worse blow to Harper, who faces hours of debates that are going to be broadcast on the country's biggest TV channels on Wednesday and Thursday evening. Until now he was leading in the polls. On Tuesday morning the PM chose not to take part in any public events, except for a photo op of him taking his little girl to school. The media spent all day poring over the two stories. How could this exemplary father, believer of good morals and law and order, he caught red-handed for such plagiarism! The opposition had a field day, and with the prime minster's office stuck speechless to boot.
The affair will be harmful for the Conservative Party's campaign. When everyone stops laughing, the point is that the affair reinforces one of Harper's weaknesses, in particular in the Quebec province, where seats are essential to gain a majority. We know that foreign affairs isn't his cup of tea. A lot of people have said that this is new evidence that Canada has lost its voice on the world board since Harper was elected.
During the election in 2006, the Conservatives never tried to hide the fact that they called on the Australians for advice. Harper now has to explain why he copied a speech, word for word, from a foreign politician. And that politician was John Howard, a man considered a great ally of Geroge W. Bush - an outgoing president who we blame for acting blindly himself! Bush is ready to bow out, but Harper will have to live a long time with this unhappy legacy."