My latest: punk rock and the plague!

Pandemics aren’t a ton of fun.

The current one has caused economic chaos, political instability and no shortage of anxiety, planet-wide. For musicians and for those who promote live music, however, it’s been really, really — really — bad.

For months, musicians haven’t been able to make a living playing gigs — because, in the era of illegal downloading and low-return streaming, gigging is how most of them keep the lights on. Around 75% of their income is derived from live shows.

Meanwhile, the clubs and bars and arenas that offer shows haven’t been able to do so for 20 months, give or take. The World Economic Forum estimates that the music industry is worth around $50 billion annually — and half that figure, from live shows, simply evaporated when COVID-19 commenced upending our lives.

So, for Calgary punk rock legends Chixdiggit — and for the legendary Bovine Sex Club in Toronto, Canada’s own CBGB — their joint return, this past weekend, was really, really (really) good. It was the 30th anniversary of both the club and the band, and the Bovine was packed — with verified, fully-vaccinated punk rock fans.

Before taking to the Bovine’s stage, Chixdiggit — KJ Jansen (guitar and vocals), Billy Dixon (guitar), Tyler Pickering (drums) and Rob Gruszecki (bass) — gathered in the storied apartment of club owner Daryl Fine, and talked about their first big shows in two years.

“Alberta didn’t really have lockdown, but you guys (in Ontario) had a lockdown,” notes Jansen, the band’s frontman. “Not to get political, but we had a premier that kind of made us jealous of Ontario’s premier.”

Even so, the decision to play the 30th anniversary shows didn’t happen overnight, says Jansen, because the band, and the Bovine, wanted to do them in the right way. The safe way. At the Bovine on the weekend — where Yours Screwly was naturally in attendance, being a bit of a Calgary punk myself — I witnessed more security and screening than I’ve experienced anywhere else.

“The original 30th anniversary party was going to be 40 people in seats, sitting down,” says Fine, the club’s longtime owner, and the guy with one of the biggest Rolodexes in rock’n’roll. “It would have been less of a celebration. Conveniently, (Doug) Ford has opened us up and allowed us to be full capacity.”

Bovine Sex Club owner Daryl Fine.
Bovine Sex Club owner Daryl Fine.

Even with all the precautions they’re taking, Hansen and Fine agree that it was essential that Chixdiggit’s shows were hale, hearty and healthy. Says Fine: “We have a 100% protocol for vaccine passports. We’re checking everyone at the door, plus the Bovine has a 100% staff mandate for two vaccines. We’re not too nervous. And the fact that venues and bars are complying is helping Ontario succeed in lowering the case rate.”

“And that was a big part of Chixdiggit wanting to come out here,” says Hansen. “Alberta’s pandemic was handled very differently. When we looked at Ontario’s vaccination rate compared to Alberta, I thought, holy s***, that sounds like a paradise. So, if we were going to come back and play a show, we wanted to do it at the Bovine in Ontario.”

And what a show it was. Chixdiggit reminded all in attendance why they are considered Canada’s best-ever punk band. Their tunes — about girls, growing up and hockey — are catchier than a drawer full of fish hooks. And, at the Bovine over the weekend, they had the place rockin’ like it hasn’t in a long, long time.

“We want to put on a great show,” concludes Hansen, “and we want to keep everyone safe.”

And they did, on both counts.

— Warren Kinsella, who is older than dirt, was a member of Calgary’s first punk band, the Hot Nasties, and we’re not sure why we let him in here.


My latest: the unappealing truth about Trudeau

How can you tell that Justin Trudeau is lying to you?

We know, we know: when his lips are moving. Old joke.

But there’s a more recent example of Trudeaupian dishonesty — one that took place in real time, in real life. And, even coming from the sophists who make up Trudeau’s cabal, it was pretty shocking.

On Friday night — not during the day, but “Friday night,” as CBC News , no less, reported — word came that the Trudeau government had quietly filed what is called a Notice of Appeal. It read as follows:

“Canada acknowledges the finding of systemic discrimination and does not oppose the general principle that compensation to First Nations individuals who experienced pain and suffering as a result of government misconduct should be provided.

“Awarding compensation to individuals in the manner ordered by the Tribunal, however, was inconsistent with the nature of the complaint, the evidence, past jurisprudence, and the Canadian Human Rights Act.”

There’s a fair bit of legalese, there. What’s it about?

Well, it’s about a 2019 decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, ordering Ottawa to compensate Indigenous children for denying them government services.

What’s it mean? It means the Government of Canada wants to overturn the tribunal’s decision. Period.

But that’s not the impression the Trudeau government wants to give you. Here’s what they want you to think. They issued an official statement and everything.

“Today, the Government of Canada and the parties, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and Assembly of First Nations, are announcing that we have agreed to sit down immediately and work towards reaching a global resolution by December 2021 on outstanding issues that have been the subject of litigation.”

Some in the media immediately fell for it, hook, line and sinker. CBC’s Chief Political Correspondent, Rosemary Barton, promptly tweeted this:

“All sides have agreed to a pause in legal action. All parties will continue to negotiate to reach a global settlement. They have until December. The appeal buys all sides time to reach that agreement.”

Gotcha.

So, back to the very first question: how can you tell the Trudeau government is lying to you?

Five ways.

• They issued statement late on a Friday. In political parlance, that’s known as “taking out the garbage.“ When you’ve got something bad to say, you say it late on a Friday, when you know fewer people are paying attention. When you are playing fast and loose with the truth, you don’t want anyone paying attention.

• Their lead spokesperson is in Europe. You know: that Justin Trudeau guy. Purely coincidently, we’re sure, Trudeau was literally out of the country, junketing around Europe and thereby being very difficult to reach. He left the appeal revelation to a couple minor Liberal politicians back in Canada on, as noted, a Friday night.

• They pretend settlement discussions are big news — except settlements can happen at any time. Forgive me for being a lawyer and everything, but settlement was possible at any moment before now. You can have settlement discussions before a case begins. You can have settlement discussions when the trial is underway. You can have settlement discussions when a case is before a jury. You can even have settlement discussions after a verdict is reached. Contrary to what Barton tweeted, no settlement discussions were “continuing.“ What was “continuing” was Trudeau’s multi-million-dollar scheming to deny Indigenous children justice.

• They appeal and pretend it’s not an appeal. Because, you know, that’s what the Trudeau government did. They literally researched the appeal. They wrote the appeal. They typed up the appeal. They filed the appeal in the court registry — and even got an official stamp on the front of it. When it looks like an appeal, and is filed as an appeal, it’s an appeal.

• Their lips are moving. Old joke, yes, and repetitive. But it is no less true for that. The Trudeau regime has taken dishonesty to an entirely new realm. In the B.S. Olympics, they are consistent gold medallists. They are without equal.

Because they are lying to you, again. More particularly, they are lying to thousands of Indigenous children who they continue to fight in court.

It all resembles what Donald Trump likes to call “the big lie.”

Because, if you’ve decided to tell one, make it a whopper.

— Kinsella was Jean Chretien’s Special Assistant