Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

Grace, too

In December 1991, Canadian rock legends RUSH started their Presto tour in Hamilton, Ontario with Jeff Healey as the opening act. It was thought that a couple nights later in Toronto, that Healey would open as well. Ticket sales were slow, or so the story goes. A friend of mine scored us a pair of tickets in the sixth row, just off center, and on the day of the concert my high school walls were buzzing. At least, the dozen RUSH fans in the two thousand student body were buzzing. A rumor was circulating that Jeff Healey wasn’t going to open, instead, it was going to be The Tragically Hip.

I was a counselor in training back in the summer of 1990 when The Hip’s first full album, Up To Here, was making waves on the shores of Sparrow Lake – and Lake Ontario, and pretty much any other lake, small town, city, or metropolis in The Great White North. At the time it was one of my favourite albums. The album that outdid it, though, was their next one. The 1991 gem, Road Apples. So, by the time December of that year rolled around The Tragically Hip had become Canada’s band, and I was going to get a front row seat (okay, it was the sixth row, but who’s counting) to see them open for the band that previously held the title.

That concert was everything it promised to be, and then some. I watched Gord Downie belt out hit after hit of hard hitting, good old fashioned rock-n-roll married with lyrics that were pure genius. When he lay down with half his body hanging over the stage and screamed the lyrics to New Orleans Is Sinking while pretending to do the front crawl I knew I was witnessing something truly unique. Part man, part machine, part poem, Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip were rewriting the national anthem.

Twenty-five years later an entire country was collectively winded from the gut-punch news that Gord was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. Doing what I can imagine only a few people in the world could do, Gord and the band decided they would go out the way they came in. That is, with a bang, and they set out do play a series of gigs – exclusively in Canada – with their magnum opus to come in a six-thousand-seat venue in their band’s birth city of Kingston, Ontario.

The Hip could have sold a hundred thousand tickets to that show. Hell, they could have filled Downsview Park in Toronto and close to a million people would have shown up. Interest was so high in tickets for these concerts that, after the debacle with getting seats (tickets going up on Stub Hub for thousands of dollars within seconds of going on sale), the national broadcaster, CBC, committed to airing the concert free of editing and commercials as well as streaming it live on their website, YouTube, and Facebook. Over four million people watched the entire broadcast and almost twelve million tuned into it at some point.

Let that sink in.

A rock band from Kingston, Ontario, population roughly 120,000, had one-third of the entire population of Canada tune in to watch a portion of their final concert.

Several politicians from several levels of government and all party affiliations were in attendance but the one that stood out the most was none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who in addition to clapping and cheering in a concert t-shirt, showed his love and appreciation for Gord and the band in a series of tweets:

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Praise, well wishes, prayers, and thoughts came from all over the world but I think former Saturday Night Live cast member and king of late night television, Jimmy Fallon, said it best:

And Pearl Jam took a moment out of their concert at Wrigley Field to say a few words:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J10F17ed9mo]

Articles much better than this one were written and I have got to tell you, the list of news outlets covering this event blew my mind. A partial list (each linking to the article):

Personal stories were in abundance. So what is mine? Aside from the above introduction, I don’t really have one except to say that The Hip went from being the best-kept secret in Ontario to having throngs of loyal fans. I described it to a coworker today as having this feeling that in 1990 they were this obscure band that had a few good songs I liked and in 1991 it was as if they had always been playing on the soundtrack of my life.

After that night in Toronto, I only managed to see them a few more times but their music was everywhere to be found. My good friend and former physics lab partner is a big fan and when we shared an apartment not many hours would pass without a Hip song being played, or strummed on the guitar, or sang poorly over Kraft Dinner being eaten straight out of the pot. I remember listening to their album Phantom Power on the radio in the car on the way up to the cottage with my then girlfriend now wife. There’s a lyric in the song Fireworks that goes, “She said she didn’t give a fuck about hockey and I never saw someone say that before,” and that pretty much summed up our relationship right there. She always sings that part loud and proud when we’re together and we hear that song.

The stories, they go on and on and on and on. Throw a rock at a group of Canadians and you’ll hit someone with a story about the Tragically Hip. So what is it about them that brings together millions of people to say goodbye?

For starters, the lyrics are masterfully woven from the threads of Canadiana, set to guitar, drums, and bass that make you want to sing along and move, and delivered with the rawest of emotions. For a good number of Canadians, the band speaks directly to them using tools and talent a rarified few possess.

The online Canadian encyclopedia gives us a glimpse into the poetic genius of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip with an exhibit outlining the stories behind of a handful of the band’s most popular songs. For people who have never heard of the Tragically Hip to people that have committed every lyric to memory, this is a must see. They lifted the name of the exhibit from a song off the album Fully Completely.

What sums it up most aptly for me is lifted from two lyrics from one of my favourite Hip songs off the album Day For Night (which, in a sick and twisted bit of coincidence features the song titled Inevitability of Death):

“Armed with will and determination, and grace, too.”

“Armed with skill and its frustration, and grace, too.” 

Gord Downie did it all. He did it with will and determination and even with all his skill, he showed us his frustration. And he did it with grace, too.

~ Andrew

Americans Welcome

Americans, you may want to sit down for this. Are you sitting? No, please. Sit down. This is serious. Ready? Okay, here it goes: Your country is broken.

“We can fix it!”

No, sorry, you cannot. You’re terribly broken. Gangrene is has set in and it’s bad.

“How can this be?”

Good question. I first noticed it back in 1990 when you bombed the living hell out of Iraq (to depose a dictator the U.S. helped put in power). Five years later it was the Oklahoma City bombing – an act of domestic terrorism I could hardly fathom. Four years after that came Columbine. That one really stood out. Then another war with Iraq (this time over weapons of mass destruction which we now know for certain was just a cover up to finish the job daddy couldn’t do a decade ago). Sandy HookThe religious right. Rampant racism, misogyny, class warfare… The list goes on and on (and on and on and on…) Oh, and every single level of government AND your Supreme Court is bought and paid for.

“But…”

The overwhelming response to all of this? Absolutely nothing, unless you count pithy memes on the Internet.

“But lots of people care. We want to change. We CAN change.”

Nope. I don’t think you can. If you were capable of change you would have a Congress that looks a lot different than what it looks like today.

All that red has you blue


“There has to be something that can be done. Come on, doc, throw us a bone here.”

Well…

“Yes, please, tell us!”

If gangrene gets too bad there’s only one thing to do.

“Please, tell us, what is it?”

Amputate.

Meme
There’s some good news, though.
“Well, there’d better be some good news. Has anyone ever told you your bedside manner sucks?”

I’m sorry, That’s very un-Canadian. But onto the good news. Remember 1812? Specifically, the war.

“Yes, we kicked your lily asses.”

Well, there’s some debate on how that ended, and we did torch Washington (which is actually the reason the White House is painted white – to cover up the fact that we burned the fuck out of it) but that’s neither here nor there.

The deal with the War of 1812 was this: North America was being colonized at a phenomenal rate and you guys wanted a bunch of “British” land and decided to come take it. We were all like, screw that, and fought you back. It’s way more complicated, of course. We can’t ignore the genocide of millions of indigenous peoples made in the name of “progress” (hence, the quotes around “British” land). But, the whitewashed history books will sum it up into a battle for the stuff between the 40th and 54th parallels with the resulting borders ending up looking more or less like they do now.

Size matters and we’re way bigger than you are


“So, what’s your point?”

Well, I propose we annex a slice of the northern United States. Literally cut it out and stitch it onto the south end of Canada. Not quite as far down as the 40th parallel, but close enough. Everyone living in those areas would either stick around and live in a country that’s not batshit crazy or get the hell out of Dodge and head South.

“If a bunch of Americans start migrating south, won’t that crowd up everywhere below the 40th parallel?”

Nope, because we’d open up the new border to accept American refugees from the south too! Call it a citizenship swap. Batshit crazy? South of 40. Not Batshit crazy? North of 40. We’re already bringing in a metric tonne of Syrians and have a pretty good track record with this sort of humanitarian peacekeeping shit. Okay, we had a really dark period there from 2006 until very recently, but we’ve fixed that problem and we’re just about good as new.

“Would you take whole states or just cut a swath across the top all nice and straight?”

We’ll take whole states and make a straightish line. We’ll assume control of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming (reluctantly), both Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin (Go Packers!), Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Now THAT’S a nice looking map

In tribute to the native peoples who were slaughtered, we’ll immediately rename two states south of Ontario “Lower East Saskatchewan” and “Lower East Saskatchewan South” – maybe New Hampshire and New York but we can sort that out later. We’ll also talk about renaming some of the others once everyone gets settled.
“What about Alaska and Hawaii?”

OMG, I completely forgot about them! We’ll take those too, but only under the condition that Sarah Palin gets the hell out of Alaska and Barack Obama becomes Premier of Hawaii (Canadian version). Also, Bernie Sanders gets to be Prime Minister after Justin Trudeau.

“This could work.”

Don’t worry, this will be epic. Canada will absolutely OWN potatoes, maple syrup (even more than it does now), wheat (tonnes of fucking wheat, so much wheat), marijuana (even more than it does now), cheese, and whatever the hell Wyoming is good for.

“You know, this idea is actually kind of good.”

I know!

“One question: why do you keep using the word ‘tonne’? Isn’t it ‘ton’?”

Oh, that. It’s metric. You’ll have to start using a system of measurement that’s used in every country except the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar. It’s actually quite easy to…

“Screw that. No deal. [mumbling] And you think we’re batshit crazy? Metric system. Pfft.”

Aw man, this sucks. What am I supposed to do with this flag?

New Canadian flag

~ Andrew

A Letter to Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister,

First, let me congratulate you and welcome you home. Millions of Canadians, myself included, knew you were ready and we are all excited to add this new chapter to the chronicles of our nation.

Since I was old enough to vote, I have always been interested in politics. Almost exactly 22 years ago the political science major I would go on to marry drove me from the University of Waterloo to the polling booth in Thornhill so I could cast my first ballot.

I voted Liberal that fateful day, but that wasn’t the beginning of a trend. Certainly the Liberals have seen more votes from me than the other parties, but I’ve always put a great amount of thought into each one regardless of whose name received the “X”. In every election at every level, I have learned a great deal about Canadian politics and my role as a voting Canadian in the process.

It wasn’t until last year that I made a political donation. It was to the Liberal Party of Canada and I felt quite good about making it. I knew Canada needed change, tangible change, and knew that my small contribution would make a difference. A short time later I made my second donation. I liked what I saw in you as a leader and I liked the changes I was seeing in the Liberal Party.

In spite of your repeated requests for a third donation, I was hesitant to make one. You see, uncertainty set in. Your stance on the controversial Bill C-51 had me quite flummoxed. I could not reconcile your approach with public opinion, with what I had researched, or with my own common sense. I am happy to hear that you’ve altered your stance on this issue enough that we now have a clearer picture of your intentions.

Then, came Bill C-24. A stance which had me questioning your commitment given that you’re only promising to repeal certain measures. I thought about it, though, and if I were to critique that bill in detail, I mean really scrutinize it, I wonder how much of it would I want to keep and how much would I do away with? With this in mind, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Then came the TPP. Again, vague promises were made. I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, have concerns about what this will do. Not just for trade, but for our digital communications and privacy. Those voices must be heard.  In this regard, the promise of thorough parliamentary evaluation and debate, along with transparent communication to all Canadians is an encouraging sign.

Amidst all of this was the need for change. Real change. It was more than a campaign slogan for millions of Canadians. It was a visceral desire for something better; for a system that worked for us instead of us having to work the system to make the system work. What would our country look like if our electoral system was structured so that every vote mattered? Canadians need a government that represents their demanding needs and diverse interests. We need a government that is elected for reasons other than deep pockets, loud voices, or nice hair.

You made a promise to us, loud and clear, that if the Liberals formed a majority government that this would be the last first-past-the-post election. That was huge. In my mind, the rest of the platform amounted to nitpicking, because without electoral reform there would be no change. Everyone would just keep doing what they are doing and we would just keep getting what we get.

Well, now you’ve got four years to make that happen. I look forward to donating for a third time when it does.

Make us proud.

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew F. Butters
Kitchener South – Hespeler


Trudeau’s Promises:


Electoral Reform:

C-51:

C-24:

TPP:

P.S. Thanks to all the folks who pointed out some minor grammatical errors or typos. It’s nice to have another set of eyes looking out for those inevitable flaws.

~ Andrew

Read This F***ing Post

So Justin Trudeau has faced some criticism from the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically the Prime Minister, because he dropped an F bomb while in a boxing ring at a charity event last week. Some days later when asked about it on a popular talk show he replied with “Um… [exaggerated sigh], shit, what do I say?”

Of all the stuff I’ve read about it I have yet to hear one person mention how an English swear word to a French person doesn’t carry the same weight. Maybe it’s the media trying to avoid fuelling the whole English/French fire that people up here love to stoke. Maybe it’s a non-issue. I don’t know, but I’m surprised I haven’t seen it come up.

I worked for a guy who owned the company and spent a week golfing with him in Hawaii a bunch of years back. He was French but spoke English better than a lot of people I know. When he’d swear on the golf course it was almost exclusively in English. Being the owner of the company and all I tried to keep it together every time I flubbed  a shot but eventually let loose some choice swear words – in English. It didn’t phase him at all.

However, when I three putted from inside 5 feet to go from birdie to bogey and dropped what I thought was a very well paced “tabarnac!” he got serious in a hurry and admonished me for using such foul language. You see, English swear words were just stupid words with no meaning. Let loose with a “osti de tabarnac de calice” in La Belle Province and you’ll turn a few head for sure.

Image courtesy photostock at http://freedigitalphotos.net

For me, it’s all about context. Call someone a name, any name, and you’ve made it personal. I’m not saying never do it (some people deserve to be told the truth) but if you do be well aware that it comes with certain consequences (good ole Justin called someone a “piece of shit” in the House of Commons back in 2011. However true a statement it was, it was probably offside for Justin to mention it in that forum).

In my opinion, using a swear in a different manner and with a different context, like how our future Prime Minister did more recently – twice, should’t even garner so much as a raised eyebrow. If it draws attention to the fact that he’s more in touch with the average Canadian and then gets people to run out and vote for him in the next election then I supposed that’s just a bonus.

When Jean Cretien was Prime Minister he swore in front of the Queen! (in French – “merde” – which translates to “shit”). When Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, was Prime Minister he caused a ruckus by mouthing some choice words in the House of Commons. Later he translated what he said to “fuddle duddle” and accused the opposition of “crying to mama”. To him, it was no big deal. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far, whether it’s from the family tree or from the political party.

I’ll tell you one thing, given the choice between honest statements that contain swearing and perfectly scripted lies that are free of expletives, I know which one I’m fucking voting for.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0Iu2CAwQaU]

~ Andrew