Nfld. & Labrador

Séan McCann tells Ches Crosbie to stop using his song on campaign trail

The Great Big Sea co-founder says the PC party never asked his permission to use a song about overcoming addiction as their anthem.

Crosbie apologizes, says party was late contacting McCann for permission to use Victory Song

Séan McCann was not impressed to hear his song was being used as part of a political campaign heading into next month's election in Newfoundland and Labrador. (David Howells/Canadian Press)

One of the most prominent singer-songwriters in Newfoundland and Labrador says the Progressive Conservative Party launched its campaign on Wednesday using his song about overcoming addictions as its anthem.

Séan McCann was peeved to learn party Leader Ches Crosbie used Victory Song before his speech on Wednesday, which kicked off the road to the May 16 provincial election.

"I was let down. There's no need for that to happen in this day and age," he said. "I'm sure there's people in that staff that knew what to do about that."

We should have waited for him to approve, that was a mistake and we apologize for it.- Ches Crosbie

McCann said nobody from the party contacted him or his team to ask permission to use the song.

Victory Song is a personal tune, and holds special meaning for McCann. It's been eight years since he stopped using drugs and alcohol, and the song is an ode to his sobriety.

"Music means more to me now than it ever did," he explained.

"That song is one of the songs I wrote to remind myself that even though things are tough and days are hard, that we are able to win if we don't give up. That's what that song is about."

Not the first time

He found out about it through a tweet on Wednesday evening from CBC reporter Terry Roberts. McCann quote-tweeted it, stating it was used without his permission and asked the party to stop.

As a man of many songs — including a lengthy library with Great Big Sea — it's not the first time he's been through this.

"I think Stockwell Day co-opted Ordinary Day way back in the day," he laughed. "So it's not the first time, but you know, people know better, we can do better. There's no need of it."

Former federal cabinet minister Day used the Great Big Sea tune at Canadian Alliance rallies in 2000. The band asked him to stop, and it was removed from the party's campaign playlist.

McCann isn't looking for any sort of retribution. He just wants the song to be left out of politics.

"I'm not a political person. I'm far from it. Again, I'm not taking sides," he said. "This is not a political song and I would never have given permission for it to be used by any party."

Crosbie later responded to McCann's tweet, saying the selection was never intended as a "campaign song."

"We were late contacting Séan to let him know that was one of the songs we were planning on playing," Crosbie tweeted Thursday morning.

"We should have waited for him to approve, that was a mistake and we apologize for it."

Crosbie said it won't happen again.

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About the Author

Ryan Cooke works for CBC out of its bureau in St. John's.


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