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Calgary singer launches 'Yes We Can' of 2011 election

Calgary singer Melissa D'Souza has written and performed the most interesting political video of the 2011 election, lending an unexpected boost to the Liberal campaign but, she says, really intended to turn out the vote for all candidates.

The video Rise Up Canada, uploaded to YouTube on April 22, is four minutes long, a mashup of vote-mob clips, excerpts from Michael Ignatieff's new slogan, and shots of nice people holding placards about "respect for Parliament." The debt to the 2008 Obama video Yes We Can is clear, but D'Souza based her video on one she produced for the Calgary municipal election last year -- an effort to improve voter turnout. That one gained attention as far away as her native Goa, in India.

The blurb accompanying the new video makes the same point: "The footage was used in the spirit of encouraging people to vote and is not intended to support any specific party although this video was inspired by Ignatieff's speech. The Liberal party did not fund this spontaneous and voluntary project."

In a follow-up video, D'Souza explains how the Rise Up Calgary video had made her think about a similar production for the next federal election, which she expected in 2012. When the election was called this spring, she shelved the idea because of the lack of time. Then Ignatieff made his first "rise up" speech on April 16, and the whole project rose up and coalesced in a matter of "two or three days."

Still unexplained: Did Ignatieff borrow "Rise Up" from Melissa D'Souza?

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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