Federal scientist under investigation for ‘Harperman’ song retires

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Harperman songwriter Tony Turner

An Environment Canada scientist under investigation for his part in a protest song has retired from public service, according to his union.

Tony Turner has been on administrative leave for just over a month while he was investigated for writing and playing a song against Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said Friday that Turner chose to retire rather than wait an unknown number of days, or even weeks, to learn his fate from his employer.

“I have always believed I acted within my rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that I was not in a conflict of interest with the department’s values and ethics code,” Turner said in the union’s news release. “I have always maintained impartiality and objectivity in the conduct of my duties.”

Turner said he was assured a quick investigation and decision when Environment Canada suspended him earlier this summer.

“That has not happened and I have decided it better to retire and continue to express my views as all Canadian citizens are entitled to do.”

PIPSC president Debi Daviau said in the release:

“His decision to retire in no way injures his own rights or those of other federal public servants under the Charter….But his decision to retire today does free him to speak and perform without fear that it will impact his employment.”

Turner, whose day job involved mapping the flight patterns of migratory birds for Environment Canada, was one of three people responsible for the viral Harperman video.

He wrote the tune and lyrics for a songwriting competition last spring. Set to a peppy beat and backed by an ensemble called the Crowd of Well Wishers, the lyrics call on Canadians to ditch the Harper government with a chorus of “Harperman, it’s time for you to go.”

It has garnered more than 650,000 hits on YouTube.

With files from Aviva West