Music and politics – Canada’s strange bedfellows


There are over a hundred anti-Harper protest songs in YouTube alone ranging from a sweet anti-pipeline ditty to a 4-year old jazz-inspired song Steve it’s Time to Leave to hard core songs such as “Vote that Fucker Out”.

Then it all happened one more time when an Ottawa folk singer and Environment Canada scientists landed in hot water for leading an anti-Stephen Harper sing-a-long. He was sent home on leave and is the subject of a government investigation after he wrote and performed a politically-motivated folk song about Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Music and politics are indeed strange bedfellows.

The song, Harperman, was put on YouTube and Vimeo in June and features Tony Turner, a scientist with Environment Canada, leading a dozen other people in a rendition of the folk song, which calls for an end to Harper’s tenure as prime minister. The song is clearly anti-Harper and each verse and chorus ends with “Harperman, it’s time for you to go.”

The song was viewed initially 50,000 times but YouTube appears to have taken down the video.

But since the video was uploaded, the website has become a resource for anti-Harper articles, and those behind the website say they are working on making t-shirts. The group has also set up an Indiegogo campaign to fund a cross-Canada sing-along.

Though Turner is a public servant he has also been a stalwart of Ottawa’s folk scene for over a decade, according to his website. Should public servants be allowed to be politically active?

Public servants are allowed to be politically active, thanks to a 1991 Supreme Court ruling.  But Turner has since resigned.

Just recently legendary rocker Neil Young praised another Canadian country rock band Blue Rodeo for coming out with an anti-Harper song.

Blue Rodeo’s new song, titled Stealin’ All My Dreams, minces no words in making a target of Prime Minister Steven Harper.

Blue Rodeo is a Canadian country rock band formed in 1984 in Toronto, Ontario. They have been signed with Warner Music Group since their debut album, Outskirts, in March 1987. Including Outskirts, they have 13 full-length releases along with multiple solo albums, side projects, and collaborations.

In a news release, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy said of himself and bandmate Greg Keelor: “Blue Rodeo does not always speak with one voice. However, we feel collectively that the current administration in Canada has taken us down the wrong path. We do not seem to be the compassionate and environmentally conscious nation we once were. As respectful as we are of the variety of opinions held by our audience, ‎we felt it was time to speak up and add our voice to the conversation.”

The song is available as a free download and has racked up more than 76,000 views on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon.

Two other Canadian indie bands have teamed up to release a song urging citizens to vote anything but Conservative in the upcoming federal election.

The description for “Land You Love” asks Canadians to “vote to avoid another tragic Harper government.”

St. John’s Hey Rosetta! and B.C.’s Yukon Blonde sing lyrics referencing the country’s “holy rolling hills” and asks listeners “to fight for the land you love.”

The video ends with Hey Rosetta’s Romesh Thavanathan holding a sign saying “Anything But Conservative,” and  Vancouver-based Yukon Blonde’s James Younger raising another with the hashtag #ImagineOct20th, referencing a series of concerts organized by Stars’ Torquil Campbell.

Organizers are putting together the concert series to encourage youth to vote out Harper’s Tories. Performers include Feist, Dave Bidini and Dan Mangan.

The video’s description also points to, a strategic voting initiative also designed to oust the Conservatives.


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