Gord Downie on PM: ‘We’re in good hands’

Justin Trudeau on the Hip: 'an essential part of what Canada is.'

Justin Trudeau meets Tragically Hip fans in downtown Kingston before the concert. (Photograph by Nick Iwanhyshyn)

KINGSTON, Ont. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Tragically Hip are an essential part of what Canada is.

Trudeau was among the fans attending what is expected to be the band’s final show, in Kingston, Ont., on Saturday night.

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In an interview with the CBC, Trudeau reminisced about how he used to enjoy the band’s music during his high school and university years.

Trudeau said the band remains anchored in Canada in so many ways through their lyrics and music.

The PM leaves a message for the Tragically Hip in downtown Kingston before the final stop on their Man Machine Poem tour. (Photograph by Nick Iwanhyshyn)

The band embarked on what will likely be its final tour after lead singer Gord Downie revealed that he’s battling terminal brain cancer.

Trudeau told the CBC that the concert represents a way to not only say farewell to Downie, but also celebrate the singer and celebrate Canada. He said the concert was a powerful moment for all Canadians.

Trudeau, wearing jeans and a black Tragically Hip T-shirt, casually mingled with Hip fans prior to the concert. He added a message to a wall in downtown Kingston where fans could write tributes to the band.

The prime minister’s aides posted a photo on Twitter of Trudeau embracing Downie just before the start of the show.

When the show started, the Hip mixed fan favourites, newer songs and some politics.

The band immediately gave fans what they wanted to hear, starting their set with four straight hits from the classic album “Fully Completely:” opener “50 Mission Cap,” followed by “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan),” “Wheat Kings” and “At the Hundredth Meridian.”

The Hip then segued into their latest album “Man Machine Poem,” with four tracks including the single “In a World Possessed by the Human Mind.”

Before “Machine,” Downie launched into one of his trademark onstage rants, calling out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in the crowd for the show. Trudeau’s official photographer tweeted a photo of the prime minister and Downie embracing before the concert.

“Well, you know, prime minister Trudeau’s got me, his work with First Nations. He’s got everybody. He’s going to take us where we need to go,” Downie said from the stage.

“It’s going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there,” he continued, “but it isn’t cool and everybody knows that. It’s really, really bad, but we’re going to figure it out, you’re going to figure it out.”

Much later in the show, Downie again spoke about his fondness for Trudeau.

“Thank you to the Prime Minister for coming to our show, it really means a lot to all of us,” he said.

“We’re in good hands, folks, real good hands. He cares about the people way up North, that we were trained our entire lives to ignore, trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s going on up there. And what’s going on up there ain’t good. It’s maybe worse than it’s ever been, so it’s not on the improve. (But) we’re going to get it fixed and we got the guy to do it, to start, to help.

“Thank you everybody. Thanks for listening to that. Thanks for listening, period. Have a nice life.”


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