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Neil Young Takes on Big Oil in Canada

Neil Young
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Neil Young‘s latest tour is about more than just music — it’s also a fundraising effort on behalf of an environmental cause.

Called the Honor the Treaties tour, Young’s four-show run is being used to draw attention to the Canadian government’s plans to expand Shell Oil’s Jackpine oilsands mine, which currently occupies roughly 29 miles of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) territory, and is set to grow to nearly 50 miles under recently approved legislation. Young, who recently toured one of 50 oilsands sites, told reporters it was “the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s the greediest, most destructive and most disrespectful demonstration of something that has run amok.

“I see a government completely out of control, and money is number one. Integrity isn’t even on the map,” added Young, who argues that the Jackpine expansion is in violation of ACFN treaties. As he reiterated in a separate statement, “Our issue is with the government breaking treaties with the First Nation and plundering the natural resources the First Nation has rights to under the treaties.”

According to an ACFN spokesperson, tribe members are already suffering adverse health effects, including heightened risk of cancer, lupus and asthma. Urging an independent commission to study the connection, ACFN chief Allan Adams insisted, “Sure, we need development to occur to continue with the economic sustainability here in our country, but the fact remains that when are we going to say, ‘Let’s get this under control?’ How can [projects] be safe when you have the federal government excluding all of the scientists and the credible reports?”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office feels that the government is doing a fine job of staying on top of any environmental concerns. “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,” spokesperson Jason MacDonald retorted, adding a dig at Young’s wealth and fame: “Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hardworking Canadians every day.”

Young took the opportunity to remind people about his biomass-burning LincVolt car, replying, “Of course, rock stars don’t need oil” and pointing out that he drove “from California to the tar sands and on to Washington D.C., without using any oil at all.

“There are better jobs to be developing,” added Young, “With clean energy source industries to help make the world a safer place for our grandchildren.”

Neil Young’s Honor the Treaties Tour
1/12 – Toronto, Ontario
1/16 – Winnipeg, Manitoba
1/17 – Regina, Saskatchewan
1/19 – Calgary, Alberta

Next: Top 10 Neil Young Songs

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