Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Whoops! Dion Campaign at it again?

Some of you may recall some months ago some bloggers expressed concerns that the Dion campaign was plagarizing the David Suzuki Foundation in its environmental platform.

A tipster has advised me that a report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce called "THE DEMOGRAPHIC TIME BOMB: MITIGATING THE EFFECTS OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN CANADA" and Dion's recent pension platform release have a lot of eery similarities.

From Recommendation 4 of the Senate report:

The federal government amend the Old Age Security Act to:
  • allow receipt of Old Age Security benefits to be deferred, with appropriate actuarial adjustments;
  • exempt a portion of employment earnings from the clawback provision associated with the Guaranteed Income Supplement program

Here is Dion's platform on OAS and GIS (emphasis added):

We will remove disincentives to work beyond age 65 by amending the rules for the OAS to allow someone who is 65 or over and still working to defer payments and receive larger payments when they do retire.

We will do this in a way that is actuarially sound so that the total value of OAS payments made will not increase. Payments to those who do retire at 65 will not be change.


A Stéphane Dion Government will help low-income Canadians over 65 who wish or need to work by exempting from the GIS reduction employment income up to $3000 for a single person, and increasing the amount that can be earned without the reduction to $9000 for couples.

This is not word-for-word but it is clearly a borrowing of the same idea and should at least carry a footnote. Some Dion supporters explained away the problem last time saying that a version lacking sources had erroneously been posted to the web. Could this have happened again?

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice...


Jason Cherniak said...

This is idiotic. Are you actually complaining that he has proposed a policy that is not completely original and unherad of? Grow up.

nbpolitico said...

I would argue that calling someone "idiotic" and telling them to "grow up" every time they criticize your candidate of choice is a bit immature and you may want to consider your own advice.

Moreover, I might argue that it is a bit immature that though you rejected my comment about this on your blog, you chose to come here just long enough to call me an idiot.

I am not complaining that he is proposing policy that others have proposed before, one ought not reinvent the wheel.

However, I will quote none other than Jason Cherniak in the post that I linked from my post:

many ideas are similar ... Any text that is identical or similar was appropriately referenced in the correct version of the document. Apparently, the one initially released and posted on this blog were without notes ... Please note that I understand "plagiarism" to be a moral accusation. Since the footnote was only left out as a result of error, there was no intent and, thus, no "plagiarism".

By your own admission, on the previous instance, the material should have been referenced but it was not due to an honest mistake. That is fair.

The fact that this has happened again makes one believe that either it was not an honest mistake or that Mr. Dion and his campaign do not learn from their mistakes. Neither is good.

Red-Sun said...

I'd blow a gasket like Cherniak too if I supported a candidate that got caught red-handed a second time.


A BCer in Toronto said...

No matter what some bloggers said, you may recall David Suzuki said it wasn't. I would thing his perspective might carry some weight.

nbpolitico said...

In the final version of the document, it indeed was not. The material that had been unsourced in the first publicly ciruclated document was sourced in the "final" document and was therefore above board.

There are no sources in this document either which is clearly borrowing material from the work of the Senate.

So I guess to me it raises the question, was the original environment piece really accidentally missing sourcing, or did they rush back to add sourcing and release a revised version when they got caught? Will this happen again here?

I am really quite surprised by the hostility. I am planning to vote for Dion if my first choice drops off of the balloting, and this does not change that. It is merely something worth investigating.

If the first time was an honest mistake, as I hope it was, then we must make sure that someone we are considering for leader and his closest advisors learn from these mistakes; we cannot afford to sweep them under the rug.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I certaintly wasn't trying to be hostile, I just felt the Suzuki thing was misrepresented.

On the second matter, I disagree with your point. I don't see any eiry collusion between the Senate report and the Dion policy. As you say there is no wording similarity, so no cribbing case can be made. So we're left then with they're both calling for the same policy change.

I fail to see the issue. I doubt this Senate report was the first time reform, or even that particular reform, was called for.

It's like saying since the Liberals campaigned in a GST cut (elimination, actually) in 93, that the Harper conservatives should have sourced the Liberal red book when they promised a GST cut in their platform last campaign.

nbpolitico said...


First let me apologize for misreading your comments, sometimes it is difficult to figure out the intended inflection when reading.

Second, let me better explain my perspective...

1) I assume that the Dion team in drafting policy does research, one would therefore assume that they would read the recent Senate report on retirement and pensions.

2) If you read the Senate report and the Dion platform in detail, not just the quotes I have provided, that they are coming from the same perspective and making the same recommendations.

3) There is nothing wrong with endorsing already proposed policy if it is sound. In fact, a sign of good leadership is when you are willing to endorse the ideas of others, not simply propose your own for the sake of being unique.

4) In academia, from which Mr. Dion hails and I think it applies to this process as well, you are supposed to cite your sources whether it is a direct quote or a paraphrase. The measure is not " no wording similarity, so no cribbing case can be made"; the standard is if you borrow from someone elses idea, you are supposed to source it.

5) This is a case of the Dion campaign taking the idea of the Senate committee or of an amazing coincidence. One presumes that they read the Senate report so therefore the idea must have come from there and ought to have been sourced.