Shane Koyczan Slices Into Harper’s Canada With ‘The Cut’

Canada’s premier spoken word poet Shane Koyczan has taken a hard line against prime minister Stephen Harper, who is working to maintain his position as Canada’s longest election campaign in history rolls on. With only a week to go before Canadians cast their ultimate ballot, the timing of this poem’s release can only be called spot on.

Koyczan told the National Observer that should he have the opportunity to speak with Harper, he would prefer to speak with Harper the man rather than the figurehead.

“I’d be curious to hear what he has to say when the cameras and reporters are gone. I’d like to voice concerns to the man… not the figurehead. Our prime minister should be accessible,” Koyczan said.

In “The Cut,” Koyczan makes his distaste for Harper’s policies and apparent values clear. Koyczan also takes aim at the people who continue to stay away from the polls, saying that Harper is “the abscessed tooth of our apathy.”

Indeed, Koyczan has not only become known as Canada’s spoken word poet but as a poet who is unafraid of tackling the tough issues. In addition to discussing politics, Koyczan has taken on our obsession with looks and what we would change about ourselves in “For Many” and the growing problem of bullying in “To This Day,” a poem which has since become a viral phenomenon.

With “The Cut,” Koyczan focuses on Harper’s cuts and poor environmental record. The poet slams Harper’s attention on building a pipeline and lack of focus on the hundreds of aboriginal women who have gone missing. Harper himself referenced the case of the missing aboriginal women and has said that the Conservatives will not launch an inquiry regarding these women, largely because, as he said, “Most of these murders, sad as they are, are in fact solved,” according to Huffington Post Canada.

Harper had referenced a Royal Canadian Mounted Police report stating that nearly 90 percent of the missing women cases had actually been solved.

In fact, at a Whitby, Ontario, campaign stop, Harper said, “We have moved forward with a whole series of criminal justice reforms to deal with the problems of violence against people generally, violence against women in particular.”

In spite of Harper’s claims, Koyczan calls Harper the “pallbearer” of Canadians’ hopes and blasts the talk of fiscal responsibility with the current longest federal election that Canadians have experienced to date.

Koyczan, however, told the National Observer that Canadians have grown tired of voting because the current system appears to favor “corruption over compassion.” The last Canadian election, held in 2011, saw only 61.1 percent of eligible voters come out to the polls. While the voter turnout for the 2011 election was three points higher than the one held in 2008, roughly 30 to 42 percent of Canada’s eligible voters have been missing from the polls since 1993, according to Elections Canada.

Koyczan wrote “The Cut” about an hour before he performed it at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of the #imagineoctober20th campaign.

Koyczan noted that it the performed version was not nearly as clean as the one that he eventually posted to YouTube.

“There’s footage of me reading it live that night. I had literally finished it about an hour before I performed for the first time,” he admitted.

He credited Hannah Epperson for recording the music for the performance; Epperson also did the music for “To This Day.” Koyczan also thanked Corwin Fox for mastering the digital version of the poem and Vanessa LeBlanc for incorporating French subtitles into the piece. Koyczan said that he felt the French subtitles were necessary, as the French language and culture were a large part of the Canadian identity as a whole.

[Shane Koyczan photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images, Stephen Harper photos by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]