Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not Biden Time Yet

I like Stephane Dion. A lot. He was almost singularly brave among Quebecers during and following the 1995 referendum. And he's sacrificed much for his views, not least of it the collegiality of some colleagues. He is a cut above.

I should also say that he invokes great loyalty in his staffers. I shared an office with one of his close assistants for a year at UdeM before he left to work for Dion. He remains one of my favourite people, in or out of politics. His belief in Dion vouches further for the man.

In short, I have not a bad word to say about M. Dion. Except that he has to straighten out this cut and paste job on environmental policy. Plagiarizing the David Suzuki Foundation - which is exactly what happened - makes his campaign look amateur. Denying it makes it look even worse. He should simply admit what is true: in looking for expressions of his policy a staffer directly borrowed unattributed sections from the David Suzuki Foundation. And he was not aware.

This isn't Biden mugging Kinnock, but if the Dion campaign doesn't restrain the likes of Cherniak it will be soon.

In the meantime, I shall continue to admire Mr Dion.


Jason Cherniak said...

Nobody's denying that a footnote was necessary - its up on the blood site! I'm arguing that an honest mistake does not constitute "plagiarism".

Winnipeg Liberal said...


This morning, the reasonable people were willing to give Dion a break on this. If Dion's campaign had come out and said oops, our mistake, an inexperienced staffer got sloppy, everyone would have had a little chuckle and moved on.

But this evening, we're not so willing to let you off the hook. Dion's spokespeople - and that includes you because, like it or not, you are a de facto spokesperson for the campaign - came out guns blazing.

Instead of acknowledging the error, the campaign made the patently absurd claim that Dion's piece was written before the Suzuki paper came out and just happened to choose the same words. That was supremely dumb, and now Dion's paying the price for poor damage control.

His campaign's credibility is shrinking fast and I dare say yours is shrinking with it. My advice is to keep quiet, stop making it worse and hope the story doesn't spread any more than it already has.

Incidentally, I hope Dion's personal reputation doesn't suffer too much because of this. I suspect his only offence is to surround himself with sloppy staffers.

Peter Loewen said...

Quotations were also necessary. As was a little humility from the Dion people. They messed up; they should admit it. They should also restrain Cherniak.