Harper's writer quits over plagiarized speech

Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:16pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A campaign worker for Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigned on Tuesday after admitting he plagiarized large chunks of a speech that Harper delivered in 2003 while leader of the opposition.

Owen Lippert, said he "was overzealous in copying segments of another world leader's speech", when he copied parts of a speech on Iraq originally delivered by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Neither Harper -- who was then leader of the Canadian Alliance Party -- nor his officials knew about it, said Lippert, who resigned from the Conservative Party's campaign ahead of the October 14 general election.

Earlier on Tuesday the main opposition Liberal Party played tapes from Howard's March 2003 speech, in which he spoke of the need to back the United States in its war on Iraq, and one that Harper delivered two days later, with big sections comically identical.

"It matters a lot. Canadians want that their country speak with their own voice on the world stage. It's true for the prime minister. It's true for the leader of the opposition," Liberal leader Stephane Dion told reporters.

Dion said it showed Harper was close to U.S. President George W. Bush and the coalition that invaded Iraq.

Canada's then-Liberal government refused to join the U.S.-led action.

Liberal spokesman Michael Gendron later accused Harper of making Lippert a scapegoat. Immediately prior to the campaign, Lippert had been a senior policy adviser to International Aid Minister Bev Oda.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>