On a day when the world's financial markets are reeling, the Liberals are attacking Stephen Harper over a speech he made five years ago about Iraq. Does that make any sense? It doesn't to me.
With the greatest of respect to Liberal Toronto Centre candidate Bob Rae, who raised this issue yesterday, I don't think it matters whether Harper's speechwriters plagiarized from former Australian prime minister John Howard's speechwriters in 2003.
I'd be surprised if Howard thinks it matters.
The speech itself is of historical interest largely because it is so wrong. In it, Harper – then Canadian Alliance chief – argued the case for Canada joining U.S. President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, saying that Saddam Hussein's possession of biological and chemical weapons made him a real threat to the world.
Harper's address to the Commons was in large part a word-for-word replay of a speech Howard had delivered to Australia's legislature two days earlier. Both argued that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (he didn't) and that the U.S.-led invasion was justified under international law (it wasn't).
Yet it's worth remembering that Harper wasn't the only Canadian making that case at the time. Michael Ignatieff, now deputy Liberal leader and a Toronto candidate in this election, was also a strong defender of Bush's war five years ago.
Ignatieff eventually recanted. But in 2003, he and Harper were both cheerleaders for Bush.