Morrissey breaks vow to boycott Canada until seal hunt is banned, announces eight concerts
|National Post 19 Feb 2019 at 18:38|
Possibly proving the truth of his 1994 hit song The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get, Morrissey — the British singer as famous for his dark emotional state and animal activism as he is for his music — is breaking a 15-year-long vow not to perform in Canada until the seal hunt is banned.
On Monday, he announced eight Canadian concert dates.
The announcement comes after years of biting criticism of the seal hunt, calling it “Canada’s carnival of death” and comparing it to the Holocaust during a war of words with Canadian politicians that stretched over a decade.
Instead, he said, he will donate partial proceeds from his Canadian concerts to animal welfare charities in Canada.
Steven Patrick Morrissey, who goes by just his last name, was lead singer for the popular 1980s band The Smiths before embarking on a prolific solo career that explored his maudlin outlook, sharp-left politics and stories of everyday life.
I fully realize that the absence of any Morrissey concerts in Canada is unlikely to bring the Canadian economy to its knees, but it is our small protest against this horrific slaughter
He has long been an aggressive vegetarian and fierce animal rights activist, often bringing the subject up in interviews and causing controversies with bold statements.
In 2006, he started picking on Canada over the seal hunt to such a degree that the NME, a leading U.K. music publication, featured the headline “Morrissey goes to war with Canada.”
“I fully realize that the absence of any Morrissey concerts in Canada is unlikely to bring the Canadian economy to its knees, but it is our small protest against this horrific slaughter — which is the largest slaughter of marine animal species found anywhere on the planet,” Morrissey was quoted as saying at the time.
He took swipes at then-prime minister Stephen Harper, who had recently taken office, calling him “ignorant” for allowing the “barbaric and cruel slaughter of beings that are denied life simply because somebody somewhere might want to wear their skin. Construction of German gas chambers also provided work for someone.”
Later, Morrissey publicly criticized then-Fisheries and Oceans minister Gail Shea for saying seals are killed humanely.
“Is this a death that Gail Shea would wish for herself?” Morrissey wrote in his blog. “If she considers such butchery to be so ‘humane,’ why doesn’t she place herself amongst the tens of thousands of grey-coated harp seals that will be slaughtered within the next few weeks? She could then test the humane aspect of having her head blown off for herself.”
Reached Monday, Shea laughed about his concert tour plans.
“You want to know if I’m going? The answer’s ‘No,’ ” she said.
“They use their popularity to get headlines when they really don’t understand the issues. It’s just radical views and comments to grab headlines,” she said of Morrissey and other celebrity opponents of the hunt. “It’s always been a part of life in Atlantic Canada.
Everyone is entitled to change their mind
“Everyone is entitled to change their mind,” she said.
While Morrissey has had an about-face on performing in Canada, he hasn’t softened his stance on the seal hunt one bit.
The musician still vehemently opposes the hunt, he wrote in September when musing about returning to Canada, calling it the “savage and Neanderthal annual Baby Seal Kill.”
His shift is “entirely because my stance was ultimately of no use and helped no one. My voice was drowned out by the merciless swing of spiked axes crushing the heads of babies,” he wrote.
“On my return to Canada I feel that I can be of more use by making sizable donations to animal protection groups in each city that I play.”
He still has harsh words for the Canadian government, now under Liberal management.
“The current Canadian government neurotically preach(es) diversity: the understanding that each individual is unique, and has much to offer because of their differences. This tolerance does not extend to the seal family — who hurt no one, yet who have no rights to life in the new non-discriminatory Canada.”
None of Morrissey’s tour dates take him further east than Montreal or further north than Edmonton. His other shows are in Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Toronto.
Shea became a target for animal rights activists during her tenure as minister of Fisheries and Oceans because of the seal hunt. Besides her public spat with Morrissey, she had a cream pie pushed in her face by an animal rights protester in 2010 while giving a speech.
She notably lost the 2015 election to a Liberal named Bobby Morrissey.
When asked to comment on Morrissey’s tour plans, Fisheries and Oceans Canada reaffirmed its support for the seal hunt.
“The seal subsistence harvest is a way of life and a valuable source of food in many Indigenous and coastal communities in Canada. The Government of Canada supports a humane and well-regulated seal harvest and is committed to ensuring its sustainability,” the ministry said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, Morrissey’s famous insecurity extended to his musings on returning to Canada.
“Will my Canadian tour be a success? I have no idea,” he wrote. “I shall give my best and do my best. We are all passionately looking forward to renewed friendships.”
No one thought this matter was so threatening that Mr. Trudeau’s secret-sharer, mentor, fixer and friend would choose to fall on his sword
The suggestion that he has done anything untoward will have stung him. The idea that he would cling to his job would seem grubby
Many believe Trudeau would never have entered politics if not for Butts, and might not have succeeded in winning Canada’s highest office without his support
Maybe Butts concluded, based on the staggering ineptitude of the ever-changing stories, that nobody was doing damage control, just damage