Tuesday 20 October will be a date Canadians will never forget. It was when they voted in a new government and prime minister in nearly a decade. The Liberal party led by Justin Trudeau won an absolute majority in the general election and dealt a hammer blow to incumbent prime minister Stephen Harper.
“This is what positive politics can do,” Trudeau told supporters in Ottawa as the last few results trickled in. “I didn’t make history tonight, you did.” But what about the songs?
The victory meant no fourth term for Harper, a controversial figure who headed a ‘less-than-transparent’ Conservative government. Harper had been prime minister since February 2006 and after his defeat, announced his intention to resign as leader but would remain in parliament.
But it is some cultural aspects of the election campaign that are interesting. For instance apart from the claim of “positive politics” made by the son of the former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, a number of anti-Harper songs featured in the campaign. A very Canadian way you might think of getting your message across, effective and fun. But there was a price to pay. The Environment Canada scientist whose anti-Stephen Harper folk song “Harperman” was suspended from his job. Early last month he announced his retirement rather than waiting for an investigation into his behaviour (which had been dragging on). The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the union that represents Tony Turner, confirmed his retirement. A spokeswoman for the public service union also said that Turner’s retirement did not affect the rights of other civil servants to free political speech, a right that was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1991.
So why not have a listen and get some ideas for a similar vocal assault on austerity and the Tories. I’m sure Jeremy Corbyn would approve!
Hear “Harperman” and another great folk song “Canadian Lies” (a parody based on “American Pie” by the great Don McLean) at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei50lM6ab1c (“Harperman”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIJSNhngz0k (“Canadian Lies”)
Also “Take Back This Land”at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5sgOWXsiLU