Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Unanswered questions

For obvious reasons, the news that Stephen Harper's speech in Parliament on the Iraq War was largely plagiarized from John Howard has been a major topic of discussion today. But let's note a couple more reasons why the Cons' attempt to place responsibility solely with an aide rings hollow at best.

First, Harper himself made reference to Australia's involvement in the Iraq invasion in question period on March 19, 2003. Which obviously suggests that he and his party were paying attention to what Howard was saying at that time.

Second, March 19, 2003 was also the date of George W. Bush's address to the U.S. to push the war. Which, needless to say, would have made for the major story in the U.S. media which Harper considers his preferred source of news.

So both Australia's involvement and the prospect of a broad public speech were surely both well within Harper's contemplation before he delivered his own address to the House of Commons. With that background, is it even faintly plausible that Owen Lippert alone out of the entire Official Opposition and its staff thought to see whether Howard had also delivered any speeches related to the war before Harper's address to Parliament? Or before Harper had the speech reprinted multiple times in the weeks afterward?

Of course, it would be difficult at the best of times to figure out who else may have had knowledge of the plagiarism - and may be virtually impossible when the culprits are members of a party notorious for closing ranks rather than answering honestly when faced with damaging accusations. But the fact that Lippert has attempted to take all the blame personally looks highly suspect. And the more the Cons try to plead ignorance on behalf of everybody else within their party, the more reason there may be for suspicion that Harper himself was among those who's being protected from responsibility.

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