May 20, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 01  

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Klein under fire for improper citation
Premier accused of plagiarism

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

University life is full of various trials and tribulations, including waking up for morning classes, studying for harrowing exams, drinking to excess, plagiarizing academic essays — oh, and running Alberta. Especially if you’re Ralph Klein.

Klein, premier of Alberta, has come under fire recently after an essay he submitted for a course he is taking at Athabasca University turned out to contain entire portions that were improperly sourced, prompting some to accuse him of plagiarism.

“A professor at another university did his own assessment of it and made all sorts of claims,” said Marisa Etmanski, press secretary with the Alberta premier’s office. “The buck stops with the Athabasca prof — other people are making judgments on something they don’t have the background for.”

“He has, in fact, heard from the university and has received a 77 per cent mark on it,” she noted.
“He just wrote ‘Internet’ [when citing online sources]. That would be like citing ‘book’ if he got the information from a book. I can’t imagine seeing that at Western,” said Debra Dawson, director of Western’s educational development office.

If Klein was attending Western when he submitted the suspicious essay, Dawson admitted she would be unsure of how he would be dealt with, since instances of plagiarism are addressed on a case-by-case basis. “It would vary,” she said. “If we saw large portions taken from a source, that’s plagiarism.”

“I would have failed him on my course,” declared Laurie E. Harnick, an instructor at Western for English and Information and Media Studies.

Etmanski explained Klein works very diligently on his homework while keeping up with the demanding duties of his office.

“Being the premier is pretty busy itself,” Etmanski noted. “When he travels, he always packs his homework with him.”

But hard work and perseverance do not always guarantee a great essay.

“People do need to learn to correctly cite,” Dawson said, adding style guides and other resources are readily available to assist students. “Some don’t learn until they come into first-year.”

According to history professor Marta Dyczok, students who have accidentally gone down the same road as Klein can rest a little easier at night. “The secrets of a good essay aren’t secret,” she said. “[They are] well-researched, well-structured [and] well-written.”

Harnick did offer the premier one precious nugget of essay writing advice: “I would suggest to him to be more careful.”

She also provided Klein with one more suggestion: “He should never take one of my courses.”



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