CBC News Report: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canadavotes/story/2008/09/30/rae-harper.html
Well, I suppose this came somewhat out of left field...No pun intended there. I was going to talk today about Jack Layton's calls for a party leader meeting to discuss Canada's economic standing given the collapse of the American Bailout Bill; but decided that this was something that was worth talking about.
Essentially, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being accused of copying a speech that was delivered by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard on the issue of Iraq. There has been some varying reports on this issue. A conservative speech writer, Owen Lippert, resigned over the speech and claimed that he was pressed for time and did indeed copy parts of Howard's speech.
There are some people who are unhappy with this explanation and suggest that something more sinister lurks underneath. Some of said that the speech was really written in Washington D.C. and passed along to Conservative leaning world leaders to shore up support and standard talking points in favour of invading Iraq. While there is no evidence, at least that I have seen, to support this some people seem to prefer this to explain what happened.
I don't think that that is the case; rather I think it simply boils down to what the Liberals are actually saying about Stephen Harper and his Conservatives. Now, I don't always agree with the Liberals (see their massive record of abstains during the last session of the House), but some of what they are claiming does make sense.
Essentially, the Liberals are drawing the line that this is just further proof that Harper has no real policies of his own; that his speeches, his policies, and all his ideas come from outside sources rather than Canada. Now while that sounds rather overarching and dramatic, allow me to explain my position in a way that doesn't make it sound like a wild theory.
The idea of the Child Tax Credit which Harper ushered in when he was brought into office in 2006. Well, how many Canadians are aware that the same kind of system was brought into effect in the United States under George W. Bush's 2001 tax cuts? Let me explain that in another way; a major plank in the Conservative platform (one which they continue to cite and warn other parties will remove) came into effect in the United States FIVE YEARS BEFORE the Harper Conservatives were elected.
Now, I'm sure there's dozens of other examples where Harper had brought in, introduced, or proposed ideas that seemed like a new thing within Canada but where happening else where in the world. Don't get me wrong, if the program works else where and can work here, by all means let's explore the option.
But the fact that we see a Prime Minister who actually is aligned with Bush's economic policy on this issue (as well as the idea of allowing the market to have a free hand and granting tax cuts to only the top money earners in terms of corporate tax breaks rather than those who really need them) I think we need to acknowledge that Harper is indeed a man who does not have a clear vision for this country.
Rather, he sees clearly into other countries (as long as they're on the right of the spectrum) and decides to bring those policies here. The speech is only another nail in the coffin of the Harper electoral campaign.