An Environment Canada scientist by day and folk singer by night, Tony Turner never intended for his kitschy tune “Harperman” — a call to action for a change in government — to create waves from coast to coast. And he certainly didn’t think it would put his career at risk by way of a very public suspension.
Turner was put on leave in August and investigated for allegedly violating the values and ethics code for public servants by penning the song, which now has more than 650,000 views on YouTube.
Turner, who is also a well-known Ottawa folk singer, chose to retire rather than wait to learn his fate, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada said on Friday.
“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 a statement from PIPSC, the union representing federal scientists. “I have always maintained impartiality and objectivity in the conduct of my duties.
“When Environment Canada suspended me earlier this summer, I was assured a quick investigation and decision. 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 Turner’s retirement doesn’t affect his Charter rights or those of other federal public servants, but means he can now speak freely without fear that it will affect his employment.
“Sadly, it is a fear too many public servants must currently live with,” she said, “That’s why promoting and defending the Charter rights of all our members will continue to be one of our fundamental priorities.”
Turner was notably absent from a mid-September Harperman sing-along on Parliament Hill. At the time, his wife Sharon Reeves said he couldn’t attend because of the ongoing investigation.
She also said Turner was nearing retirement and she doubted he would return to work.