Example of plagiarism by Stephane Dion?

You be the judge.

From an article written by Charles Mandel for Canwest on March 7th, 2008:

In a major forthcoming report on Canada’s changing climate, scientists warn of everything from increased severe storm activity in Atlantic Canada to hotter summers and poorer air quality in urban Ontario. British Columbia may face retreating glaciers and snow loss on its mountains, causing potential water shortages. The Prairie provinces will continue to struggle with drought, impacting agriculture rurally and potentially causing water rationing in urban areas.

On March 14th, 2008, Stephane Dion gave a speech on climate change which included the following paragraph:

In a new report released quietly last week by the federal Department of Natural Resources, 145 leading Canadian scientists warned that Canada’s changing climate will lead to everything from increased severe storms in Atlantic Canada to drought in the Prairies. British Columbia may face retreating glaciers and snow loss on its mountains, causing potential water shortages. There will be hotter summers and poorer air quality in urban Ontario. And the Prairies will continue to struggle with drought, affecting agriculture and potentially causing water rationing in urban areas.

Is all of this plagiarism stuff just getting silly or is turnabout fair play? Nonetheless, don’t expect to see this on the national news anytime soon. Some point out that both Dion and Canwest cite the same report. But it is fact that Dion uses the same words to describe the report that Canwest used and this suggests that Dion or his speechwriter cribbed from that news agency. The words that Dion uses in his speech are those of Charles Mandel, but we see no mention of the journalist’s name in Dion’s text.

Also, much like common rhetoric between Harper and Harris, there are likely examples of common rhetoric between Dion and Al Gore or David Suzuki (the climate crisis represents the greatest threat to humanity etc.) but this won’t get too much pick up because common mind and collective thoughts are benevolent on left-wing issues and conspiratorial on the right.

English, French and Punjabi?

Canada’s three official languages will be English, French and Punjabi should Jack Layton become Prime Minister according to the Indian Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

From the Indian government’s website:

Toronto, Sep 29 Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton has promised support for a new visa office in Mumbai and official status for the Punjabi language in Canada if he becomes prime minister after the Oct 14 polls.

Jack, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) has fielded a record 14 Indian Canadian candidates to woo the million-strong community, said his party will also roll back a newly passed immigration bill that the community finds discriminatory.

India will be a priority nation for his government if it comes to power and he will visit New Delhi at the earliest, Layton said in an interview.

UPDATE: Not true, says a spokesperson for the NDP who contacted me a few minutes ago via email. Turns out the reporter got the story wrong.

UPDATE: The NDP has been pounding the pavement to get this clarified on this side of the Pacific. From the author of the article,

Subject: from Gurmukh Singh, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), New Delhi

Clarification: Since the word ‘official’ in my report has caused confusion, let me explain it from our Indian perspective.

In India, an “official'” language does not become a “national” language. The acceptance of a language by the government makes it “official”, not a national language.

So Hindi and English are link languages (but never mentioned as national languages in the Indian Constitution), and 21 other languages are our official languages (but not national languages).

So my use of the word “official” might have been confused with the word “national” by some people. But that was not my intention.

All I wanted to know from Jack Layton was whether he will give some kind of recognition to the Punjabi language as it has been here for about a hundred years. Not the status of a national language.

Jack also didn’t promise anything except say that he will support any idea of such a recognition if his party is voted into power.

Liberals rip down Conservative signs with a blessing from Elections Canada

This campaign has seen a lot of things, from MPs using office budgets to advertise during the writ to past blogs of present candidates coming back to haunt parties that have not properly conducted the vetting process. But this story, as reported by the Charlottetown Guardian is perhaps the one to top.

Conservative candidate Tom DeBlois posted signs throughout his riding advising constituents to “say no” to Dion’s carbon tax. These signs weren’t the standard blue with the standard Conservative logo but they were authorized by the official agent for Tom DeBlois.

Liberals, infuriated by opposition to their leader’s carbon tax, or perhaps just simply frustrated the plan isn’t going over as well as Al Gore’s private jet on the way to another Inconvenient presentation, drove throughout the riding and tore down the signs.

If this sounds like the standard campaign dirty tricks, read on. There’s an interesting twist. Turns out that Elections Canada actually authorized the take-down of the signs. Even if the signs were illegal, why did Elections Canada outsource it’s muscle to the Liberal Party? With pre-election suggestions by the Conservatives of Elections Canada working hand-in-glove with the Liberal Party, one would presume Elections Canada would be more careful and do better to try and dispel this allegation. The problem for the Liberals, and for Elections Canada in particular, the signs are completely legal and the subjective arbiter of elections fails to secure the democratic process from abuse once again and in this particular case they enabled it.

Elections Canada has admitted it was wrong to have the signs removed. The executive director of the Liberal Party has apologized.

While we’re on the topic of signs, let’s bring up some suspicious advertising that Elections Canada should take a look into. Of course, as Conservatives we don’t expect them to give a green light to our (or rather their) enforcement division.


Stapled to municipal sign


Stapled to utility pole


(from Guelph) Authorized by an official agent? Who knows.

Consider the stark difference in how Elections Canada enforces its rules.

1) In this case here, Liberals complain about legal signs, Elections Canada authorizes the Liberals to take them down.

2) Liberal MP Anthony Rota buys an identifying himself as an MP and the ad runs during the writ period unauthorized by his official agent. Conservatives complain but Elections Canada declares the ad legal.

3) Liberals provide advertising for a corporation on their campaign plane. We still haven’t heard from Elections Canada if this was done for free or whether other considerations were involved.

4) Finally, an NDP supporter puts an NDP sign in their rented apartment window, the landlord threatens eviction and Elections Canada washes their hands of the matter.

English debate, the next morning

Five federal party leaders squared off last night around the oblong table at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Coming off of a sort of dress-rehearsal last night for the English speaking viewers, leaders were coached all day yesterday on earlier missteps and new opportunities as senior scripters checked debate playbooks, wiped the blackboard clean and chalked out some final plays.

And though politics can be a contact sport, referee Steve Paikin kept the unnecessary roughness to a minimum and even straightened out a few players when needed. The format of the debate has been criticized by some Conservatives as too amenable to unbalanced debating particularly when four candidates (including one late-comer and one spoiler) focus their attention squarely upon the incumbent. However, if one contrasts this with the American Vice-Presidential debate last night, the table format led to more exchanges and discussion rather than moderator-induced conversation without direct confrontation between candidates. Indeed, the Palin-Biden debate was instead two separate interviews, occurring simultaneously in the same room. The Canadian debate format for this election cycle proved more interesting for viewers and provided an unvarnished look at the candidates as they were challenged directly by the other candidates.

Despite this, the current Prime Minister seemed at ease though at times I’m certain he wanted to leap across the table and give Jack Layton a better-balanced bludgeoning. Viewers of the French language debate joked that the Prime Minister seemed to have been sedated while partisans both friendly and not yearned for more emotion; the unfriendlies hoped for anger while Conservatives hoped for more passion from their champion to describe their common agenda. In the English language debate, the Prime Minister seemed to exude what is more appropriately described as confidence than calm as he took the barrage that came as the polarized players flailed their collective left-wing and labeled the Prime Minister everything from out-of-touch with the middle class — quite brazen coming from Elizabeth May — to a George Bush clone (the left will miss him when he’s gone).

Despite the constant attacks, Stephen Harper performed strongly by donning his figurative blue sweater vest appearing the most rational and collected candidate of the group. As one twitterer likely not voting for Harper put it, “It concerns me that Harper sounds the least crazy.” Jack Layton, the other strong debate performer appealed to the dramatic by twice making cynical references to the very same sweater the PM wears in the Conservative ads. Jack Layton and Stephen Harper needed each other to boost their debate performances and by focusing their heat on each other, they were able to wedge out Dion. Though the Liberals have never had a leader like Paul Martin that was richer, the critics couldn’t be fairer; the Liberals have never had a greener candidate than Stephane Dion and despite Martin’s failings, he was more animated than Dion was last night. Though Martin entered the election in the lead, Dion is coming from behind and failed to capture anyone’s attention last night.

Elizabeth May surprised last night as she was the most sober of the opposition leaders. In comparison with other leaders, May brought a calm, number- and fact-referencing persona to the debate and politely corrected leaders as to the “facts” (though many as she saw them). For many Canadians who look at the political landscape and see the same old players locked in a seemingly eternal stalemate, May brought a fresh face to the stage for Canadians to consider. The Green Party leader needed to show Canadians that she deserved to debate on the same stage as the party leaders. Despite real and valid arguments against her inclusion and a childish repeat of her fraud accusation leveled against Harper, last night she didn’t appear out of place. In that, May scored an impressive victory for her cause.

As the leader of a french-first-and-last separatist party from Quebec, Gilles Duceppe did not have much to gain or lose during the English language debate and the Bloc leader appeared to be the candidate most genuinely at ease during the two hours last night. Duceppe also appeared as a shadow moderator; when he was not advancing his ideology, bringing he brought realism against rhetoric particularly when he gestured towards Layton and Dion suggesting they knew they’d never become Prime Minister and then proceeded to address the sitting Prime Minister — indeed, seated directly across from him — speaking about Quebec’s issues as the Bloc leader saw them. Most observers note that this will likely be Duceppe’s last performance in this forum as the dean of the debate is expected to retire from federal politics before the next federal election.

The debate was interesting to watch and was more interesting than debates in previous years. It certainly brought a fresh perspective to the players that we see in Question Period when parliament is sitting. If more and more newcomers show up to claim their stake on the democratic frontier as May did last night, we might see this format degenerate into a collective browbeating of an incumbent. If democratic reform proceeds along the path which May advocates, do more voices create more noise or do the enrich the process? In the American primary process we’ve seen about ten voices crowd one stage at a particular time with the TV networks biased towards perceived front-runners. Democracy is by definition a dynamic process and the evolution of the Canadian leader’s debate will follow its own path. The method by which our leaders appeal to Canadians for their votes will be, for the most part, fixed directly to the format by which Canadians would choose to hear them. That is democracy.

Tonight’s debate: the drinking game

Tonight, Canada’s four national mainstream party leaders (and one wildcard) will gather at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre for the English language debate. To occupy yourself while you twitter, and yell at the screen here’s the debate drinking game.

First, pick your poison.

If you support Stephane Dion, make sure you have some Château Pétrus on hand. Sip it slowly and savour it. If Stephen Harper is your guy, go to the corner store and get yourself some Coke Zero. Same great taste, zero calories. For those of you supporting Jack Layton, grab a can of Steelworkers Oatmeal Stout. Gilles Duceppe will be in the debate and without much of a clear purpose, if he’s your choice, just pour yourself something bitter. Finally, if you choose Elizabeth May finish your organic pomegranate with vodka and then go and mooch off of Dion. That Pétrus is some good stuff, and though and it won’t give you a hangover unlike the one that came after that thirteen year bender when the Liberals were drunk with power.

And now the rules:

If Jack Layton references the initiatives of one of his MPs, take a drink.

If Elizabeth May calls an idea/policy/person “stupid”/”ridiculous”/”outrageous” take a drink.

If Stephen Harper talks about the fundamentals of the Canadian economy take a drink.

If a leader says “George Bush” take a drink.

If Stephen Harper says “George Bush” finish the bottle and keep drinking til it stops hurting.

If a leader says in reference to Dion “you didn’t get it done”, “Mr. Dion doesn’t think it’s easy to make priorities” take a drink.

If Dion says “this is unfair”, finish the bottle.

Every time Duceppe puts the emphAsis on the wrong SyllAble take a drink.

Every time Dion seeks clarification take a drink.

If Jack Layton says “corporate tax cuts”, “boardroom/kitchen table”, “Ed Broadbent”, “Tommy Douglas”, “hope/change”, “working families”, “big oil/gas/pharma/banks” take a drink.

If Jack Layton says “big labour”, “big ass” or “Barack Obama” finish the bottle.

If Elizabeth May/Jack Layton/Stephane Dion cite Al Gore or David Suzuki take a drink.

If Stephen Harper cites Al Gore or David Suzuki finish the bottle.

Every time Harper/Layton tag-team Dion take a drink. Every time Dion/May tag-team Harper take a drink.

Anytime anyone tag-teams anyone with Duceppe, finish the bottle.

Every time Steve Paikin brings out his pleasant non-offensive wit, take a drink.

If Steve Paikin makes an off-colour joke, finish the bottle.

Add your own in the comments, and… please drink responsibly.