Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More on the "plagiarism" scandal

Not surprisingly, the Australian media have taken an interest in this story. The Australian has this to say:
John Howard was never renowned as a great orator. Much of the time he simply spoke from dot points.

But now a speech he gave five years ago has come ricocheting back across the Pacific after causing chaos in Canada's election campaign.

Two days after Mr Howard rose to his feet in the House of Representatives in March 2003 to announce Australia's defence forces had been authorised to go into action against Saddam Hussein, Canadian Conservative leader Stephen Harper repeated much of his case for intervention in the House of Commons in Ottawa -- word for word.

Mr Harper is now Prime Minister of Canada. His Conservatives are leading in the polls, but the plagiarism claims have derailed their campaign two weeks out from the October 14 election.
To say it has "derailed their campaign" seems a bit extreme, though it's an embarrassment for them. But if it reminds enough people about how gung-ho Harper was about going into Iraq at the time, it might do some good.

What's interesting is that neither the Australian, nor the ABC, nor the Sydney Morning Herald, nor any Canadian media outlet, seems to have bothered to ask John Howard what he thinks of this episode. You'd think that would be a rather obvious thing for a journalist to do. But there is nothing -- not even anything about Howard refusing comment, which leads me to believe that no comment was requested. The Australian article notes above that Howard often "spoke from dot points"; perhaps on this occasion he was reading from a speech that came from a ready-made template -- a template also used by Stephen Harper. But perhaps it's considered improper for professional journalists to raise that issue during the campaign.

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