Tragically Hip

This past Saturday one third of all Canadians witnessed the final performance by Tragically Hip from their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. 11.7 million people gathered in bars, hockey arenas, town squares, restaurants, back yards and living rooms, tipping hats to front man Gord Downie and the Hip.Saturday morning Toronto police tweeted “Dear world, please be advised that Canada will be closed tonight at 8:30 pm. Have a #Tragically Hip Day”. From the Yukon to Newfoundland, Saturday August 20, 2016 will go down in Canadian history as Tragically Hip day.

Who the Hip are is easy, what they are is harder to define. Constant from bar stools to sold out arenas, Gord Downie’s iconic voice navigated the Hip to a place of knowing familiarity – when a Hip song played it felt like slipping into bedroom slippers, troubles waned, we were home. Canadian to the core, Tragically Hip never sought headlines or spotlight. Musicians, poets, balladeers captained by “Canadian poet laureate” Downie. Three decades of unabashed Canadian expression delivered with respectful unapologetic grace.  In May of this year a news conference reported Gord Downie had terminal brain cancer, followed by dates of a farewell tour before Downie succumbed to aggressive terminal illness. Listen to Ahead By A Century then Bobcaygeon. Youtube Nautical Disaster, Google Rolling Stone Top 10 Tragically Hip Songs, explore the interactive link below from CBC, read this article by Rachel Sklar at Vox –

I find myself pondering how many Canadians have “I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time” tattooed on their arm. (Line from Bobcaygeon below)

Gord Downie August 20, 2016

Those outside Canada, people unfamiliar with the Hip might not fathom why a third of our nation gathered to hear Gord Downie’s final live performance. Why Justin Trudeau took in the concert wearing a Hip T-shirt,Tweeting –

Gord Downie is a true original who has been writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years.

crowds pack out a square in Kingston, Ontario, on 20 August 2016

 Kingston, Ontario – live broadcast for those without show tickets.

Tragically Hip permeate our lives, Gord Downie casts a spell of fortifying unity. This will be remembered as summer of the Hip. Following a three hour, three encore performance in Kingston Gord Downie said “thank you for that” before walking off the stage. Make no mistake, Canada thanks you Mr. Downie.

Radio Canada According To Harper

Employees at Radio Canada (the French language arm of national public broadcaster CBC), spent today scraping jaws off the ground. Stephen Harper accused the lot of being left wing propagandists.  Interviewed on Quebec City radio FM93, Harper exposed another facet of  bat shit mentality. When asked how he planned to convince Quebec residents to vote Conservative (pay attention because of 75 available seats the Conservatives only hold 5), Harper said he doesn’t believe voters in Quebec are predominantly left leaning, asserting most Quebecers approve of his policies.

“I remain convinced that Quebecers are not leftists, contrary to the image conveyed by some media or the opposition parties,” Harper says in the interview.

“I understand that there are many at Radio-Canada who hate these values, but I think that these values are the true values of a large percentage of Quebecers.”

Recently Harper spokesman Carl Vallee wrote, (in response to a documentary aired on CBC exploring links between Evangelical Christian organizations and the Harper government – “it was becoming more and more difficult for (him) not to conclude that (his) worst suspicions about Radio-Canada held true.”

Under the Harper Conservatives funding for Canada’s national broadcasting treasure has plummeted. Over the last few months, CBC supporters in Quebec organized thousands of  Francophone demonstrators, rallying against Harper’s wanton disregard for cultural representation and Canadian identity. Now it’s starting to make sense – blame Radio Canada for Conservatives electing a measly 5 seats in Quebec.  Obliterate CBC funding, force cancellation of programming, put hundreds out of work – Stephen Harper loathes the CBC and all it represents.

CBC represents the fabric of what it means to be Canadian. I have news for you Mr. Harper – your bone head decision to mess with  CBC is the last straw. Absurd finger pointing, transparent tantrums or attempts to silence the voice of Canada will bite you in the ass.




Mr. Big Ears Teddy

This ponder begins with a preface – I promised myself not to ponder Jian Ghomeshi. My jaw hit the ground last Sunday – news of his unceremonious dismissal rocked the core of my admiration for Ghomeshi. I cautioned myself to wait, reserving judgement, opinion and ponders until reasonable foundation became apparent. As an avid listener of “Q” on CBC radio, a person who often discovered musical gems, was introduced to arts, trends, and perspectives courtesy his radio show – deciding the polite and respectful reaction, ” wait and see” came easily. Then I heard about Mr. Big Ears.

For those unfamiliar with the star of CBC radio or the reason Canadian tongues are wagging – a snippet of Ghomeshi history….

Jian Ghomeshi is a 47 year old Canadian broadcaster of Iranian descent, born in England, immigrating to Canada when he was 7 years old. Ghomeshi attended York University where he was president of the Federation of Students, graduating with a degree in history and political science. In 1990 he formed the politically satirical band Moxy Fruvous, their first album “Bargainville” achieved “platinum” status in Canada. In 2002 Ghomeshi joined CBC as the host of >play on CBC Newsworld. Three years hosting >play, followed by producing a documentary series “The End”, 50 Tracks and the Playlist for CBC, landed him “Q” in April of 2007. Q aired daily at 10 AM and 10:30 PM across the country on CBC Radio One. Courtesy Public Radio International, 170 American stations picked up “Q” – that was until October 26 when CBC announced on a Sunday afternoon – Jian Ghomeshi was CBC history. Take my word for it – Canada had a collective “holy crap” moment, Rob Ford or Justin Bieber’s shenanigans pale in comparison to Ghomeshi’s firing.

A few hours later, news comes of Ghomeshi suing the CBC for $55 million in damages. What? The plot thickens when Ghomeshi releases a statement on his Facebook page – a portion quoted below….

Click on the link for his full statement.

Jian Ghomeshi

Public Figure · 93,374 Likes

· October 26 at 3:11pm ·

Forgive me if what follows may be shocking to some.

I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.

About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone’s business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.

Wow Jian! What am I supposed to think?  In the span of a few hours – you’re axed, launch legal action, and post a preemptive admission of bedroom kinks, spiteful ex-lovers, and consensual sex. Hmmm – I’m trying to keep an open mind – no formal charges have been laid, the CBC hasn’t “gone public” other than to say information surfaced to force “severing ties”.

Conjecture erodes over the next few days – Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere comes forward with allegations of non-consensual violence by Ghomeshi – choking her until she couldn’t breath, then slapping her 3 times “hard” on the side of her head. As of October 29, 8 women have come forward alleging violence by Ghomeshi. As of yesterday Jian has been “dropped” by both his management and PR firms, Penguin Books (now opting out of publishing his latest book) and is formally being investigated by Toronto police. I suspect Mr. Big Ears Teddy might have been the last straw.

Big Ears Teddy sheds a whole new light on the sordid mess. It seems Jian had a bear named Big Ears when he was a kid. At the suggestion of his therapist (a fact Jian openly admits) grown up Jian acquired a surrogate Mr. Big Ears. According to Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan – 2 women report Ghomeshi turned teddy around just before slapping or choking them, saying “Big Ears Teddy shouldn’t see this”.

I find it difficult to come to terms with his steadfast denial and vehement protestations of innocence. I’m pondering how differently the public might view him if remorse had replaced indignant insolence. Clearly he has complex personal issues, and needs help. Every day another layer of glossy exterior peels, revealing ragged tatters of a man with no concept of “consent”, let alone “respect” for women. Every day another woman has found  courage to speak up, in hope this time she will be heard. I wonder if Big Ears Teddy has something to say about that.




Peter Mansbridge

Not outraged, overly surprised or angry – I’m disappointed, as in let down – the feeling you got as a kid when promises gave way to reality and circumstance. Wishing with all your heart explanation and apology made sense of crushing disappointment – wanting to trust the bearer of bad news because you loved and counted on them, yet knowing deep down  unconditional faith could be shaken. That moment when young perspective feel victim to harsh reality.

Peter Mansbridge is chief correspondent for CBC News, The National, a position of “news anchor” held since 1995; the longest running anchor in Canadian history, a household name for decades – the voice of Canada – an icon representing fair unbiased journalism, the epitome of a nation set apart by our conviction and principles. The face of CBC, an organization I’ve championed for honest reporting in our misinformed,  media circus world.

All grown up now and not so naïve as to think any news corporation actually escaped government, corporate or religious tentacles – news of Mansbridge accepting healthy pay checks to speak at oil and gas interest extravaganzas left me questioning my Canada.

CBC is a government funded “crown corporation”. Established in 1936 with radio, adding public television in 1952 – under direction of a president, appointed by Canada’s Governor General on “advice” of the Prime Minister – CBC (despite supplemental advertising money) is ultimately controlled by Federal dollars. Canadians have become so accustomed to cultural, artistic and no nonsense investigative reporting – we forget who signs the checks.

Getting back to Mansbridge – Canadian tongues are wagging over reports his presence is for sale as key note speaker to oil and gas interests. For a price, which he defends as “being entitled to activities in my private life”, Mansbridge head lined the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) at an Investment Symposium in 2012. Reports have him cashing a check from Cenovus at the Association of Canadian Oil Landmen in 2011. CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson stated Mansbridge is “encouraged” to speak, and all speaking engagements are cleared with CBC management.

Hmm – ponder that a moment; correct me if I’m wrong – management (our government) encourages Mansbridge – arguably one of the most recognizable Canadians, to accept money for speaking in the interest of  energy shenanigans. The same government hell bent on rolling out the red carpet to foreign investment, environmental white washing and “end justifies the means” tactics.

Far from being in any position other than gut reaction – this is one disillusioned Canadian with less than fuzzy feelings towards my formerly sacred CBC.

CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge poses for a photo at Toronto studios as the television network announces its 2013-14 season preview on Wednesday May 22, 2013.


My carefree little dance party took on a mind of its own when I started pondering Gordon Lightfoot. Lightfoot – a Canadian singer-songwriter successful in the 60’s and 70s for his folk rock ballads -If You Could Read My Mind, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and Sundown to name a few – became radio standards.

I’m not sure what triggered my nostalgia button, in truth I only began to appreciate him much later in my life; long after the glory years, AM radio hits, and wobbly albums turning on my parents hi-fi. Instrumental versions of his tunes played to elevators and shopping malls without the slightest twinge of “oh to be young again”. Without question I changed the radio station when If You Could Read My Mind assaulted me.

Without warning I stumbled upon a dub version of Sundown. I was smitten, as in holy crap, this is amazing. Research led me to a 2011 show by CBC television. How did I miss this! Cover Me Canada gave participants the choice of covering iconic Canadian songs. Black Velvet by Allannah Myles, Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane, Run to You by Brian Adams, and Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot. Audition tapes were submitted based on those four songs, ultimately 9 bands were chosen to compete in 9 episodes for the $100,000 grand prize.

It really doesn’t matter who won, the point is I discovered scores of audition tapes for the show. Band after high school band interpreting Sundown. I’m still smiling, a big Cheshire cat grin from ear to ear. Who knew Gordon Lightfoot kicked ass, and that everything old is new again. It’s times like these that make me proud to be Canadian.

Below is a link to one of my favourite auditions, followed by the link to “dub” Sundown that started this ponder in the first place,