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    30 Aug 2015

    Canada government suspends scientist for folk song about prime minister - The song was written by Tony Turner, who worked at govt agency Environment Canada & is ‘a mainstay on the Ottawa folk music scene’

    The song was written by Tony Turner, who worked at government agency Environment Canada and is ‘a mainstay on the Ottawa folk music scene’



    An environmental scientist working for a Canadian government agency has been suspended and will be investigated for recording a protest song about the prime minister, Stephen Harper, according to union representatives.
    The song is called Harperman and was written by Tony Turner, who worked at Environment Canada and is, in his spare time, “a mainstay on the Ottawa folk music scene”, according to a biography on his website.
    The song, which is recorded with a backing choir and a double bass, with Turner himself on the guitar, contains lyrics like “no respect for environment / Harperman, it’s time for you to go”, and “no more cons, cons, cons / we want you gone, gone gone”.
    Turner’s union representatives told the CBC that Turner was being accused of having “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”.
    “We will stand up for its members who face the prospect of being disciplined for exercising their democratic rights as citizens. The supreme court of Canada has confirmed that public service workers, like all Canadian citizens, benefit from freedom of expression,” Debi Daviau, the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union which represents Turner, told the Ottawa Citizen.
    A Facebook page calling for a nationwide singalong of the song for 17 September was set up after the song was released by a friend of Turner.
    “Can’t we make jokes or say anything? Are we all muzzled? This is the politics of fear. I am an activist and singer but mostly I am a citizen and I care about democracy and freedom of speech,” Diane McIntyre, who sang a solo in the song, told the Ottawa Citizen.
    Environment Canada could not be reached by the Guardian for comment.
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