Reasons not to plagiarise: 1. Copying someone else is mean. 2. Copying someone else in a speech given to the nation you’re in charge of in an attempt to justify a controversial major armed conflict is mean

2 10 2008

It’s either unbelievable or extremely believable depending on your level of cynicism (mine’s medium high – high), but a speech given by Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in 2003, supporting the war in Iraq has been revealed as being substantially plagiarised. The speech in question, as reported here by BBC news, is in parts a word for word replication of one given by former Australian PM John Howard earlier in 2003. Harper’s speech writer, Owen Lippert has admitted that “pressed for time, I was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader’s speech”, which seems to infer that it was an excess of zeal (zealousy?) in plagiarising that was at fault, rather than the act of plagiarism itself. Coming during an election campaign, the revelation has been particularly damaging to Mr Harper’s chances of staying in office and serves to show that if you don’t have a good grasp of your sources, or, in this case, of the sources used by the guy you pay to make you sound like the sort of person who  has a good grasp of his sources, then the consequences can be pretty embarrassing.

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