Q&A

Former Filmon staffer says Trump should have told speechwriter 'you're fired!'

A former staffer for Gary Filmon and Sam Katz says Melina Trump's speechwriter should either resign or be fired.

Parts of Melania Trump's speech too similar to not have been copied from Obama, says Staples-Lyon

Melania Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention bears striking similarities to Michelle Obama's 2008 speech. 0:37

The Donald Trump campaign is recovering today after accusations of plagiarism dogged his wife following her address to the Republican National Convention.

On Monday night Melania Trump delivered a short speech, demonstrating a kinder, gentler side to her husband. However, the campaign woke Tuesday morning to accusations that two paragraphs were almost identical to parts of the address Michelle Obama made to the Democratic National Convention in 2008, when U.S. President Barack Obama won his nomination.

One of the paragraphs in question from Melania Trump's speech reads:

"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life."

This is the paragraph Michelle Obama spoke in 2008:

"And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, that you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them and even if you don't agree with them."

Originally Melania Trump claimed she wrote the speech largely herself, but the campaign later claimed it was written by a team of speechwriters.

Bonnie Staples-Lyon served as former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon's press secretary and director of communications and chief of staff to former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz. She was also vice-president of corporate communications, government relations and sponsorships for MTS Allstream and is currently the director of strategic communications for ChangeMakers.


The following exchange has been edited for clarity and length


CBC News: What was your reaction to the accusations of plagiarism?

Bonnie Staples-Lyon wrote speeches for former premier Gary Filmon and was former Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz's chief of staff. (supplied)

Bonnie Staples-Lyon: I was actually shocked. Because I mean on a whole bunch of levels, whenever you write a speech, especially a speech of this nature, you automatically go back to see what previous first ladies would have said about their husbands.

How many people watched? Millions of people watched, so I was a little surprised that they would make such a juvenile error.

Some people are saying it's a coincidence, that Michelle Obama and Melania Trump must have very similar feelings. What do you think of that explanation?

I think that's what they have to say, but the phrasing, the syntax, some of it's verbatim. So no, it's a form of plagiarism.

The other thing that boggles my mind is, why didn't they come out right away, apologize? She could have done it, I watched the speech, I thought she hit it out of the park. Now I'm not really a Trump supporter, but I thought she did a real good job for someone who is not used to it.

And why they didn't just have her come out right away and say, "I'm nervous, of course I looked at other speeches, we had a whole team working on it, that was not my intention, the values are what's truly there."

They were [supposed] to be talking about how great his wife did, and how she gave a softer side to him and all they're doing is talking about how [the Trump campaign] bungled another thing.

It's never the act, it's how you respond to it that gets you into trouble.

What does this incident, and the way it's being handled, say about the Trump campaign?

I've been thinking about that today. It's either he's still not listening to his advisers and will not apologize — now this may change because I'm sure they're pounding at him and trying to figure out the right strategy — I know he's very protective of his wife, and he should be, but what I don't understand is, you can't get away with lying.

So first of all she did an interview with Matt Lauer, saying basically she did it all herself. Then this comes out and they're talking about a team of writers.

As a former speechwriter, what would you have done if you made a mistake like this?

If that would have happened to me, not that I would have ever plagiarized, but if I did, I mean you would own up right away and resign, and if you're not going to resign, I don't know why Donald Trump hasn't fired somebody. I mean that's what he did on The Apprentice all the time, that's what he is known for.

After everything Trump has done, will this really impact the decision of Republican voters?

He's not just after the republican voter. He's after every voter he can get in the United States, and why use this, why not own up to this? People really like his wife and they would have fallen all over themselves to forgive her. The media were cutting her a lot of slack, and [Trump] just refuses to [back down], so I think a lot of people are beginning to wonder, OK, what else won't he back down from.

Is this the kind of guy that you want to be running a world power.

With files from the Associated Press