Monday, January 13, 2014

Neil Young Rails Against the Tar Sands and the Harper Government

Canadian rock icon Neil Young has come out with his strongest statements yet against Alberta's tar sands. He has previously described the tar sands as, “a devastating environmental catastrophe.” Now he is laying the blame squarely on Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and asking people to see beyond the federal government's misinformation and embrace an understanding informed by science.

Young's statements come as he and Diana Krall are embarking on a concert tour to raise funds for the Athabaska Chipewyan First Nation's (ACFN) legal fight against the expansion of the Athabasca tar sands. The ACFN are seeking controlled development and stricter regulations for oil companies. The four-city Honour the Treaties tour started on Sunday January 12 at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Other dates include Winnipeg on Jan. 16, Regina on Jan. 17 and Calgary on Jan. 19.

The tar sands make Canada a dirty energy superpower and our national shame of ignoring the rights and health of indigenous people is unconscionable. The tar sands is the dirtiest form of energy on earth and make Canada a leading contributor to climate change. Harper has already acknowledged that Canada will not meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) pledges and if we continue to exploit the tar sands we will reach climate tipping points which will bring life as we know it to an end for all people everywhere on earth. Harper has often cited the economic opportunities associated with the tar sands, however, this is short term thinking and Harper fails to appreciate that there is no economy on a dead planet.

Young said that Canadians are being misled by the Harper government. Canada is destroying the ancestral lands of indigenous people and making them sick. He further stated that contrary to the government's claims the land used for oil sands exploitation is not being reclaimed. He urged Canadians to "rise up," so that we can unseat Harper and his Conservatives. He also showed his support for renewable sources of energy.

Here is a summary of Young's recent statements as published by Global News.

It’s the greediest, most destructive and disrespectful demonstration of something run amok that you can ever see...There is no way to describe it. It’s truly a disaster.

Get a grip and understand what is really happening...It is hypocritical, some of the things that are being said by the leaders of this country. It’s embarrassing as a Canadian to have to listen to some of this stuff. It’s all marketing, it’s all big money.

This oil is all going to China. It’s not for Canada. It’s not for the United States. It’s not ours. It belongs to the oil companies and Canada’s government is behind making this happen.

There is no reclamation. There’s not one reclamation site that’s truly a tar sands site...It’s like turning the moon into Eden. It’s not going to work. It’s just not there anymore. It’s been destroyed. People don’t realize what it looks like. It’s worse than anything you can imagine. We made a deal with these people [Athabaska Chipewyan First Nation]. We are breaking our promise. We are killing these people,” he said. “The blood of these people will be on modern Canada’s hands.

These people are not going to sit back and let the modern Canada roll over them… and they’re not saying it, but they’re feeling it...You can’t do this. Canada cannot just walk over everyone.

I described it [Fort McMurry, Alberta] as Hiroshima, which was basically pretty mellow compared to what was really going on up there...I still stand by what was said about Fort McMurray and the way it looks. Not because the houses in Fort McMurray look like Hiroshima but because Fort McMurray stands for disease that these First Nations people are getting.

We have a huge problem with science and the understanding of it. Science cannot be ignored as inconvenient, and that’s what today’s leaders are doing.

Don’t accept that there’s no other way. Let’s develop a way out of this. Let’s have ingenuity. Let’s figure out a way. People have ideas. There are many solutions we don’t understand that are alternatives to what we’re doing. We need to look ahead and develop renewable resources and technologies to move forward and produce energy.

We have the chance to change the speed of change. It’s important to think about the future for everybody else and try to look forward and try to come up with alternatives to a dirty future based on fossil fuels. Develop a way out. There’s a door that could open into the sunshine.

What everybody should do is try to get some information out of this and look inside themselves and try to make their own decisions for themselves as Canadians. I can’t tell you what to do...For sure you can vote but people should maybe start thinking about the future.

I want my grandchildren to grow up and look up and see a blue sky, and I don’t see that today in Canada.

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