The Liberals have lobbed a fresh accusation of plagiarism at the Conservative camp, alleging that Stephen Harper stole ideas from a speech given more than five years ago by former Ontario premier Mike Harris.
Ottawa-South candidate David McGuinty made the allegation Friday that similarities were found between a 2002 speech by the former Progressive Conservative leader and a 2003 address by Harper in the House of Commons.
"Once again we see an example of this prime minister's lack of intellectual honesty, of any original thought," McGuinty said in a news release. "Once again we see him stealing ideas from his hard right-wing soul-mates, this time from Mike Harris."
The Liberals cite Harris's Dec. 4, 2002 speaking notes as posted on the Montreal Economic Institute website:
"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is never easy. It takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that in taking a new and innovative course, you are making change for the better.
"Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."
Then, they quote a Feb. 19, 2003, address Harper made in the Commons while Opposition leader in made by Harper in response to the Liberal budget:
"Thinking about things from a new and different perspective is not about reading the polls and having focus group tests. It is never easy because it takes courage, conviction and the strength to know that taking a new and innovative course is going to make change for the better. Genuine leaders are the ones who do the right thing."
Conservative spokesman Dan Dugas dismissed the matter in an interview with the Canadian Press, saying it was an attempt by the Liberals to "deflect attention from their lack of an economic plan."
"Here, they've identified 44 words out of a 4,956-word speech that are similar — not identical — to a speech by another conservative," Dugas said. He refused to identify the speechwriter.
On Tuesday, Liberal candidate Bob Rae played side-by-side videos of speeches given two days apart in 2003 by then Australian prime minister John Howard and Harper during his time as Opposition leader.
The Liberals accused the Conservatives of failing to find their own voice on the issue, instead borrowing from Howard, a stalwart ally of the Bush administration in the Iraq war.
The Conservatives initially downplayed the importance of the clips, pointing out both speeches were given five years ago and no longer relevant.
Harper staffer Owen Lippert later admitted to being "overzealous" in copying sections of the speech and resigned from the Tory campaign.