Column: ‘Harperman’ hits sound waves

Things change every day and life goes on, but I had a hard time saying goodbye to Pat Skoblanuik, who retired last week after 20 years managing the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Pat and I worked closely for all those years as I was the museum’s “curator” for most of them.

I use quotation marks because the only qualification I had for the curator department was enthusiasm. Pat and I did a lot of reading and consulting experts but she kept everything on track.

Next year is the museum’s 25th anniversary in its current location. I hope Pat can come back to help celebrate because she contributed so much to the operation.


A federal government employee has come up with an alternative to the federal election’s negative advertising. In response to his church’s Social Justice Committee’s concerns over some government policies, Tony Turner wrote the song, “Harperman.” He and a backup group made a video of the ditty (performed with great gusto) and it got onto Facebook.

Mr. Turner is a scientist with the federal Environment Ministry and when his bosses heard the song they suspended him from his job and began an investigation. When that news became public the video went viral on the social media.

Two different issues here. First, does a public servant have the right to take a poke at the party in power? Second, if all the political parties delivered their messages in song, it would not only bring some joy to election campaigns, more people would pay attention, and more might even bother to vote.

The negative ads don’t always work. Justin Trudeau countered the CPC’s “not ready” ad by saying what he’s not ready for is Conservative policies. Surely the Conservatives can come up with something catchy to counter Harperman. The other parties must have some musical supporters (not public servants) to get them into the swing of things.

As for Mr. Turner, let’s hope the song doesn’t count as a terrorist act under Bill C-51.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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