Harper speechwriter previously worked at Fraser Institute

A former speechwriter for Stephen Harper has quit the Conservative campaign and apologized for lifting remarks from an address by former Australian prime minister John Howard.

Owen Lippert, former director of the law and markets project at the Fraser Institute, said in a news release that he was "overzealous" in copying remarks that Howard had given on March 18, 2003.

Lippert insisted in the news release that neither Harper nor anyone else in the Opposition leader's office knew that he had done this.

On March 20, 2003, then-Opposition leader Harper repeated many of Howard's comments in a speech in Parliament concerning Iraq.

"It is inherently dangerous to allow a country, such as Iraq, to retain weapons of mass destruction, particularly in light of its past aggressive behaviour," Harper said,  echoing Howard's words.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has called upon Harper to be expelled from Parliament over the affair. Bob Rae, the Liberal foreign-affairs critic, told reporters that Canada must speak with its own voice on international issues.

Lippert was a caucus researcher for the B.C. Social Credit Party in the 1980s, rising up the ranks to become a policy analyst in the premier's office in 1991. He was press secretary to Kim Campbell when she was justice minister and later he went to work at the Fraser Institute.