Outside Agitator

It was on one summer evening
When I sallied forth
Headed up to Calgary
On the road up north
The leaders of the free world were meeting
To decide the planet’s fate
So there were some things I wanted to mention
To this Group of Eight

I went up to the border
And was greeted with a smile
Until they looked my name up
And showed to me my file
The guard said that freedom
Canadians hold dear
But it says right on this paper
That we don’t want your kind around here

So I feel I should inform you
In case it’s something that you missed
Now it is official
And I’m on the list
If you’ve ever wondered what they look like
Then let me take a bow
‘Cause I’m an outside agitator
You’re looking at one now

They said I had no record
Of crimes that they could find
But their data told them
That I might have some in mind
They copied all my papers
Searched all around my truck
Took my picture and informed me
That I was out of luck


Now I’m no Emma Goldman
Or Commandante Che
But someone up in Ottawa
Said I should be turned away
So it leaves me wondering
What have I done wrong
Perhaps it is a crime
I committed in a song


Sheet music to this song can be found in Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

“Outside Agitator” appears on Hang A Flag in the Window (CD, 2002).

I was denied entry to Canada at the border with Alberta north of Missoula, Montana in 2002.  I was trying to go to the G8 protests.  Which I should have told them.  In future border crossings I’ve found telling them you’re going to go sing at a protest is one of the best ways to get across the border.  But back then I hadn’t figured that out yet.  It wasn’t for lying that they turned me away, though — it was for having a flyer from some anarchist group in Wisconsin that used the phrase “direct action” on it.  That was the official reason, anyway.  The actual reason was that I’m on a watch list — and I know that because the immigration officer at that rural border crossing showed me the warning he had received from the authorities about me, that I was up to no good and that he should find a reason to turn me away.  He said he was worried he’d lose his job if he let me in.  I don’t know how other people the Canadian immigration department got warnings about during the G8 at that time, but they definitely got one about me.  He also assured me that this was an “all points” warning, and that if I proceeded to attempt to cross the border anywhere else, I would then be detained until the G8 meetings were over.