Monday, October 06, 2008

Still more Harper plagiarism, this time about the Wheat Board

Harper plagiarism of Wheat BoardThe other day, J-Rad exposed Harper's plagiarism of Mike Harris' speech, and yesterday Harper dismissed criticisms of this plagiarism on the grounds that what he had borrowed was mere boilerplate: empty political phraseology, essentially empty of meaning, that can be used and reused as needed. (Which raises the question: if they're unimportant words, why not compose your own?)

How, one might wonder does he explain the following. To the right is a section of his speech on the Canadian Wheat Board (Nov. 6, 2002); it copies sections from two essays by Craig Docksteader of The Prairie Policy Centre, a rightwing think tank. (One written in 1998 with the Harper-parallels in yellow, and one in 2002, green).
Prairie Policy Center, 1998*:

In the first place, the CWB has no monopoly on world wheat sales. In fact, Canada grows only 5 percent of the world's wheat production and holds only 20 percent of the world wheat export market. This means for every CWB agent out there peddling a bushel of wheat, the competitors are lined up with four times as much wheat to sell. Some monopoly.

Prairie Policy Center, June 2002**:

The CWB has spent hundreds of thousands of farmers' dollars attempting to justify this myth.

Despite their best efforts, however, they've never factored in the lost opportunity costs, the cost of failing to develop niche markets, the cost of inefficiencies in grain transportation and handling stemming from a bureaucratic system which stamps out market signals, the cost of defending the CWB monopoly in international trade disputes, the cost of endless commissions, hearings, studies, and panels on the issue, and the exorbitant cost paid by many farmers to fight the for the basic economic right to sell their own property....

Harper, Nov. 2002:

... The fact is the CWB has no monopoly in the context of the world market. Canada grows only 5% of the world's wheat and holds only 18% of the world wheat export market. This means that for every CWB agent out there peddling a bushel of wheat the competitors are lined up with four times as much to sell. That is some monopoly.

On the basis of data the Wheat Board keeps secret, the Liberal government also claims that it has done studies which prove the CWB obtains better prices for farmers. However it never considered all the costs. Costs it does not factor into the study are such things as the lost opportunity costs for farmers who want to add value; the costs of failing to develop niche markets; the costs of inefficiencies in a bureaucratic grain handling and transportation system; the costs of endless commissions, studies, panels and hearings on this issue; or, finally, the exorbitant costs paid by many farmers to fight for the basic economic right to sell their own property. ...

Now, one wonders how Mr. Harper will explain this. The texts that he is copying are hardly boilerplate, and Harper's speech borrows their arguments and reproduces them with the same facts and figures, and exactly the same language, right down to its imagery, which offers a lone CWB agent out peddling a single bushel of wheat, and being overwhelmed by competitors described in exactly the same way (blue). Where Harper departs from these the thinktank's words, his departures involve very minor rephrasing only (note the red). And in "some monopoly", even Harper's sarcasm is borrowed.

Clearly someone has some explaining to do.
    • *Prairie Policy Center (Sept. 7, 1998): Craig Docksteader, "A Price You Can’t Refuse" (via
    • **Prairie Policy Center (June 2002): Craig Docksteader, "Living on Borrowed Time" (pdf).

Update. See Balbulican for a discussion as to why Dion's plagiarism, really isn't.