Tragically Hip controversy: Legal use of song at Conservative event angers and confuses fans

Band's guitarist Paul Langlois found the use of the song 'highly offensive', though the Conservatives did it legally

Tragically Hip controversy: Legal use of song at Conservative event angers and confuses fans

A Tragically Hip song that was played at a Conservative party event this weekend in Stoney Creek, Ont., angered fans on social media, and even one of the members of the Canadian band. But it’s now been revealed that the venue hosting the meet-and-greet with party leader Pierre Poilievre was licensed to use the song.

On Saturday, fans of the band started taking to Twitter, wondering if the remaining band members were aware that their 1993 song Fifty-Mission Cap was being used at the Conservative event, just east of Hamilton. (Lead singer Gord Downie died in 2017 of brain cancer.)

The band’s guitarist, Paul Langlois, responded that they weren’t aware of the song being used at the event, and that he was “highly offensive if true”, but that they would make sure to confirm the details and stop it from being used.

A day later, Langlois doubled down on social media, saying that the band is highly offended when permission isn't asked when their song is used, either for a brand, a political party or any public figure. Later, when getting into it with frenzied fans, he admitted that “We just don't want to be a part of any of that”.

On Monday, the band’s official Twitter account released a statement confirming that the venue where the event was held had licensed the song through The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), the Canadian performance rights organization. Therefore, the song was allowed to be used without permission, because it pays a fee to the musicians.

That wasn’t a good enough response for many in the band’s comments.

A similar kerfuffle went down in 2014, between Randy Bachman, of Canadian band Bachman–Turner Overdrive and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Bachman was unhappy that the band’s hit song “Takin’ Care of Business” was used at a political rally without their permission. However, he later admitted that the track was allowed to be used because the Ottawa Convention Centre, where the song was played, had license to the song.