Canada: A Tragically Hip Nation

In order to understand Canada—its tepid mores and self-important culture, its assumption of election and ingrained narcissism—one could do worse than listen to the music of The Tragically Hip and observe the adulation that greets its lackluster songs and mannered performances. My American readers may have never heard of the group; Canadians have scarcely heard anything but—especially of late. The group, which has a street named after them in their native Kingston, Ontario (Tragically Hip Way that runs beside the Rogers K-Rock Centre), is symptomatic of a self-inflated country, the sort of country where one of its major newspapers, The National Post, can proudly devote an entire page to congratulating an Olympic athlete who brought home—a bronze.

The band’s co-founder and frontman Gord Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This is every reason for sympathy. But it is no reason to manufacture a farewell tour capitalizing on the illness to create a raucous circus of weeping fans, voracious scalpers, media parasites and CBC prime-time theatricals. Consider the CBC’s self-glorifying “special presentation” of the final stop on the tour in Kingston:

“It was an honour and a privilege for CBC to bring this unprecedented event to audiences across the country and around the world. This is public broadcasting at its very best," said Heather Conway, CBC's executive vice-president of English services.

"For nearly three hours on a summer Saturday night, an entire nation paused to celebrate and pay tribute together.”

The CBC was pumping it for all it was worth—standard publicity-stunt crassness. Why should it be a “privilege” to cover a rock concert? Why would it be “public broadcasting at its very best”? Are there not more important issues to address and probe in a time of rising terrorist attacks and deepening economic decline? Rhetorical questions, no doubt, considering that the national broadcaster is a liberal/left propaganda bullhorn at war with reality and desperate to prove its relevance. Nor was the broadcast “commercial free,” as the network claimed; it was a multi-hour commercial for the CBC, at taxpayer expense.