It’s bad enough to be caught plagiarising someone’s best lines. But to not merely steal from John Howard — whose only memorable political lines were his most bigoted — but to steal his rationale for the disastrous attack on Iraq, is to take plagiarism to rare depths.

That Canadian PM Stephen Harper stole not just a few sentences or catchphrases but lifted, verbatim, hundreds of words from his idol also neatly illustrates the paucity of conservative thinking about Iraq. The same deceptions, mistakes and irrational warmongering emanating from the Bush White House were echoed in London, and Madrid, and Canberra, and Ottawa by conservatives convinced they were on a winner — a no-risk attack on a hated tyrant that would secure a strategic Middle East asset and undermine political opponents.

And News Ltd newspapers throughout the world did the same trick, editorialising as one across the globe in favour of an illegal, immoral war that cost hundreds of the thousands of Iraqis their lives and continues to cripple the fight against terrorism.

That’s the neo-conservative legacy that Harper wanted to be part of. Unlike Howard, and fortunately for Canadians, he didn’t have the chance to prove his fealty to the Bush vision.