Public servant investigated over political 'Harperman' song

By Ottawa Citizen, 27 August 2015

Tony Turner, a scientist in habitat planning at Environment Canada, was recently sent home on leave with pay while the government investigates the making of Harperman, a music video posted on YouTube in early June that has attracted about 48,000 hits.

Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Environment Canada, said the department wouldn’t be commenting on the case because of “privacy concerns.” He said public servants agree to comply with the value and ethics code — which lays out expected behaviours — when they join the government regardless of their level or job.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents federal scientists, said the union was representing Turner. It said he was put on leave pending the outcome of the probe into allegations that he violated the ethics code by writing and performing a political protest song. (...)

The video began when Turner won a songwriting contest with Harperman and performed it at Gil’s Hootenanny, an annual May Day sing-along event where judges were looking for “songs of protest and songs of hope,” said organizer Hollis Morgan. (...)

Donald Savoie, a political scientist at the University of Moncton, said the song crosses the line of behaviour expected of public servants. He questioned Turner’s judgment in publicly performing it and the department’s for investigating it and bringing even more attention to the video.

“The government risks giving this much more visibility than it warrants by launching an investigation. People will be on YouTube to look at this because they made it an issue.”

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