The title was my reaction after listening to Young on CBC radio with Jian Gomeshi. Young is beginning a benefit Honour the Treaties Tour with Diana Krall. He wants Canadians to think for themselves, he is only telling them what he has seen and what he knows about the tar sands. He sympathizes with the workers up in Fort Mac but he is doesn't want his grandchildren to find themselves in the hole that they are digging there, a hole so deep they won't be able to see the sky.
At a press conference in Toronto before his benefit concert for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and its fight against the big oil and the Canadian government, Young said
“It’s the greediest, most destructive and disrespectful demonstration of something run amok that you can ever see,”
“Get a grip and understand what is really happening,” he said. “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 oils companies and Canada’s government is behind making this happen.”
“Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day. Our government recognizes the importance of developing resources responsibly and sustainably and we will continue to ensure that Canada’s environmental laws and regulations are rigorous. We will ensure that companies abide by conditions set by independent, scientific and expert panels.”Hmmmph!
Neil Young's response to the Canadian Government: (hat tip comment from marigold)
Here's Young's response, which has been edited slightly for ease of reading (direct quotes from PMO statement removed):
If rock stars need oil is an official response, how does that affect the treaties Mr. Harper's government of Canada is breaking?
Of course, rock stars don't need oil. I drove my electric car from California to the Tar sands and on to Washington DC without using any oil at all and I'm a rock star. My car's generator runs on biomass, one of several future fuels Canada should be developing for the Post Fossil Fuel Age. This age of renewable fuels could save our grandchildren from the ravages of Climate related disasters spawned by the Fossil Fuel Age; but we have to get started.
As to the thousands of hard working Canadians, we have respect for all working people. The quandary we face is the job they are working on. They are digging a hole that our grandchildren will have great trouble digging their way out of. By that we mean Climate Change, the result of too much CO2 in the atmosphere There are better jobs to be developing, with clean energy source industries to help make the world a safer place for our grandchildren.
The oil sands projects are among the very dirtiest on earth. Per day, the oils sands operations produce as much CO2 as all the cars in Canada. While every gallon of gasoline from the cleanest oil sources produces 19.5 LBS of CO2, Alberta oil sands derived gasoline produces up to three times as much CO2 because of the inefficient methods used, potentially bringing the total CO2 per gallon to almost 60 LBS. This oil is going not to Canada, but to China where the air quality has been measured at 30 times the levels of safety established by the World Health Organization. Is that what Canada is all about?
As a Canadian citizen, I am concerned that this government is not acting within the advice of science.
When people say one thing and do another, it is hypocrisy. Our Canadian environmental laws don't matter if they are broken.
“There is no reclamation. There’s not one reclamation site that’s truly a tar sands site,” he said. “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 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,” the singer said.Way to go Neil Young and welcome back to Canada. It's like you never left. Some people in Fort Mac don't appreciate you though:
“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.”
Neil Young can keep on talking to the free world, but he is banned on Fort McMurray's rock radio station.
More on First Nations and the tar sands pipelines:
When Canada plans pipelines, it forgets the First Nations at its peril
“This project...and the federal process to approve it, violate our laws, traditions, values and our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples under international law.”
Silencing the opposition to the Northern Gateway project from First Nations who claim title to the land it proposed to cross is, frankly, a very bad idea. Why? Because British Columbia is in the unusual position of not holding clear legal title to the territory it claims. The Canadian government negotiated treaties with First Nations covering most of the rest of Canada (though the meaning and application of several remain strongly disputed). But in British Columbia, with few exceptions, claims to territory by the Crown are not based upon transfer of title through agreement with First Nations, but on the assertion that the territories in question were unoccupied wilderness prior to the arrival of European settlers.
Neil Young, Photo Credit: The Guardian
UPDATE: The Greenpeace film "PETROPOLIS" that Neil Young talks about at his tour launch. It's available on Netflix (in Canada)