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Six complaints filed with integrity commissioner over ‘Crybabies Caravan’ song, says councillor

'Shouldn’t I have the same rights to express my opinion as the truckers?' asks James Gordon
20220210 James Gordon Crybabies Caravan
James Gordon performs "Crybabies Caravan" during a Facebook Live video.

The city councillor behind Crybabies Caravan, a song written as his response to the now-dispersed weeks-long protest in Ottawa, says it has generated six code of conduct complaints against him.

“I kind of welcome the conversation,” said James Gordon, a two-term Ward 2 representative. “Shouldn’t I have the same rights to express my opinion as the truckers?”

John Mascarin of Aird & Berlis LLP, which provides integrity commissioner services to the city, said he can't "confirm or deny" complaints have been filed against Gordon.

Asked about the complaints process in general terms, he explained integrity commissioners are required to report any finding of a code of conduct violation to city council, but other findings are more likely to end up in an annual report, with limited details.

The 2021 annual report to council, which was released in February, noted two complaints were filed against members of council – one was withdrawn and the other was dismissed due to “insufficient evidence” of a code of conduct violation.

Gordon is a professional singer/songwriter whose career spans several decades, including the past eight years when he has served on council.

Gordon posted a live performance video of the song on his Facebook page in January. As of Friday afternoon, it had been viewed 245,000 times on Facebook and been shared on other social media platforms.

“It’s a political statement,” Gordon said of the song, noting his music often takes a stand on issues, pointing to a concert tour dubbed Stephen Harper: The Musical which he performed without complaint during his early days on city council.

The councillor hopes the integrity commissioner complaints lead to a definitive answer about whether his art can fairly be considered “offensive to others.”

If a code of conduct violation is found, council can formally reprimand the offender or suspend that member's remuneration for up to 90 days.

Gordon said he’s heard of plans to protest outside his scheduled April 21 evening performance at Silence on Essex Street.

“For the first time in 40 years, because of this, I’ve got someone working security at the concert,” he said, noting his general response to negative comments about the song’s lyrics has been to write more songs on the topic. “For some reason, this is such a touchy issue.”