Everyone should know that speechwriters DO NOT shape foreign policy. They reflect the ideas and ideals of the person to be delivering the speech. For Bob Rae to suggest that Harper can't be trusted with Canada's foreign policy issues because he couldn't express his position on Iraq "in his own words" is insulting -- not to Harper, but to Canadians. He expects we are stupid enough not to understand the role of speechwriters. Plagiarism is wrong -- the message was correct.
Having read the speeches side-by-side , I see that the similarities are in the history leading to the amassing of troops on Iraq's border but in the areas where Harper outlines his vision for Canada, they diverge completely. There is no text in Howard's version where Harper stresses Canadian history and values and their role in determining our attitude towards the war.
There is nothing in Harper's speech that suggests we should send military support -- in fact he says:
The coalition assembled by the United States and the United Kingdom is now ready to act. It is now acting. It will bring this long run conflict to an end once and for all. It will bring to an end the regime of Saddam Hussein and the militarism, brutality and aggression that are the foundations of his rule. (...) We will not be neutral. We will be with our allies and our friends, not militarily, but in spirit we will be with them in America and in Britain for a short and successful conflict and for the liberation of the people of Iraq.Throughout the text you find no suggestion that Canada send troops -- simply, that we support the rightness of the coalition position -- that Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with UN resolutions and that military intervention was therefore mandated by the UN.
Let's remember too, that those countries opposed to military intervention have been found to have been involved in the Oil-for-food scandal. France, Russia, China -- are we still proud to be on their side?
The war in Iraq has taken far longer than anticipated. It has taken a toll on Americans and Iraqis both financially and militarily -- but the fact remains -- Canada was never going to send troops -- we had no troops. All the Canadian Alliance Party was offering to the US was moral support. It was offering an acknowledgement that their position --- that Saddam had failed to comply with the conditions for ceasefire and still posed a threat to the world, was a valid one. It could be argued that he didn't pose a threat because he had no WMD -- but given his ties to China and Russia and what we now know about their roles in the 'peace' between the two Gulf Wars, it's a good thing those relationships were nipped when they were.
Harper should not back down. Go through the speech. He doesn't offer Canadian soldiers -- he offers Canadian moral support. It could be argued that if Canada had supported the coalition position that war might have been prevented. We see ourselves as the righteous brokers of peace -- had we said YES, the the US and its allies have the right and responsibility to move in and fulfill the obligations under the UN resolution -- then maybe Saddam might have seen it wasn't just the countries who were dirty-dealing with him who were on his side. If a 'moral' nation like Canada had said 'we insist you comply or be invaded.' maybe he would have listened. He knew that Russia, France and China had too much to lose to align themselves with the US. He knew he could count on their support because if they sided with the coalition, it would expose their corruption and duplicity.
We can still debate the Iraq war, whether it was a success etc. But there is still no question -- I'd still rather be aligned with those who fought against Saddam, than those who tried to hide their corruption by supporting Saddam.