Canada: Federal scientist put on leave over video anti-Harper protest song
by Ingrid Gadsden

A “protest song” written and performed by a scientist with Environment Canada
who has now been put on administrative leave with pay, pending an investigation for creating a politically charged protest song about ousting Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Harper has made it a “strong directive” in our country that scientists (whose work we taxpayers pay for) can’t speak to the public without prior approval from the Prime Minister’s Office.

I have a feeling Americans would never be so afraid of free speech as our current Prime Minister Harper is.

This video is going viral in my country:

Here’s some of the CBC report on this growing controversy in Canada:

A scientist with Environment Canada has been put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation for creating a politically charged protest song about ousting Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

Tony Turner, a physical scientist at Environment Canada and longtime singer-songwriter in Ottawa’s folk music scene, wrote the controversial tune Harperman. Turner was sent home in mid-August, according to his union, over concerns that his song breached Environment Canada’s value and ethics code.

The song touches on the Duffy trial, Harper’s spat with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and includes highly political lyrics like “Who muzzles the poor scientist?” and “Won’t buy into climate change until it’s sold on the stock exchange.” Its chorus ends with the blunt line “Harperman, it’s time for you to go.”

Turner has been a public servant for nearly 20 years and was planning to retire in roughly one month. He was working on a project involving migratory birds.

Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), confirmed to CBC News that Turner is under investigation. PIPSC is the union which represents federal scientists.

“[Environment Canada] is alleging … [Turner] has violated the departmental code of values and ethics in that the writing and performing of this song somehow impeded his ability to impartially study migratory birds,” she said.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of formal grounds to base this in and certainly the courts have been loud and clear on the matter of how public servants can legitimately participate in a federal election.”

A spokesperson for Environment Canada wouldn’t comment on the case, citing privacy, but said public servants are expected to comply with the values and ethics code, regardless of their job.

Turner told CBC News he is not speaking to media while the investigation is ongoing.
‘The entire song you could take out of news clips’

A video for the song was recorded in June and posted on YouTube, where it has racked up more than 50,000 views. The video includes more than 40 different singers who belt out the chorus. They’re fronted by Turner on guitar.

Go to the link to read the story in its entirety — which shows Tweets from people opposing and decrying and also supporting the government’s action.

Ingrid Gadsden is Canadian reader of The Moderate Voice and frequently comments in TMV’s comments section.

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  • Brownies girl

    Thanks so much Joe, for posting this — hope it helps get more people out to vote! And I hope you get a lot more Canuck readers to TMV. Somehow we have to get rid of PM Harper, he’s gotta go.

    There’s a big push on here now, to stage a linked cross-country sing-along, from coast to coast – one of the networks will sponsor it. If it works, we’ll have choirs of Canadians singing this song from Newfoundland to Victoria in BC and up into Inuit territory. Coast to coast to coast!

    This video is a real good example of how we Canucks politically protest — since we don’t have many guns. (snerk – not meaning to “stereotype” or anything, just so’s you know! — wink-wink to KP!) Am passing the link to this post on to all my friends and relatives and posting it on Facebook … and I’ll be humming this tune from now till October 19th, our election day. And if the gods are with us, on October 20th too, after the results come in.

    Wish us well — and wish us a renewed democracy in this country!!!!!