Klein under fire for improper citation
Premier accused of plagiarism
By Marshall Bellamy
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
“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
But hard work and perseverance do not always guarantee a great
“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.”