Neil Young: Tar Sands Pipelines Scar the Country

11 11 2014
T&T    NOV 11
Pipeline issues are scabs on people’s lives – Neil Young
Musician joins David Suzuki for last stop on environmentalist’s Blue Dot Tour
CamIlle BaIns THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER • Music icon Neil Young says Canadians need to stand up for clean air, land and water by taking on big oil companies in particular.   He calls issues involving pipelines “scabs on our lives,”and says Canadians must band together to ensure their constitution includes the right to live in a healthy environment.   Young is in Vancouver as part of the lineup of entertainers and artists including Barenaked Ladies, Feist and Robert Bateman for the last stop of the national Blue Dot Tour fronted by scientist and environmental activist David Suzuki.   The singer-songwriter continues to stir debate with his comment in Washington last year that oilsands in Fort McMurray, Alta., resemble the Japanese city of Hiroshima after it was laid waste by an atom bomb.   And he‘s sticking to the comparison he made in opposing the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, saying people who were in Hiroshima and have been to Fort McMurray have told him they agree with his statement.   He says it’s too bad if people don’t like his views.   “Those people who are the Fort McMurray people, either they’re oil people or they’re occupied by oil people. So of course they’re going to be upset because I just said we don’t want that. It’s not good for our families,” Young said in an interview.   Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has said that while the industry needs to make environmental improvements, Young has used his rock-star status to falsely characterize oilsands development.   The 68-year-old rock legend said before taking to the stage Sunday that his most important task as a musician is to speak against – as he put it – “things that interfere with the home.”   “I see the world the way I see it. I’m going to do what I think should be done because people are watching me. Then they’ll say, ‘Why’s he doing that? Doesn’t he care about selling records?’ No, I don’t.”   Young expresses his staunch activist views in his latest protest song “Who’s Going to Stand Up?” on a new CD, with calls to “ban fossil fuel and draw the line before we build one more pipeline.”   “The real issue is, do we want to have a clean planet,” he said on Sunday.“Do people in Canada deserve to have food that’s good and breathe clean air? If people in Canada all wanted that, it might be a good idea to put it in their constitution like so many other countries around the world.”   Young, who was born in Ontario and lives in California, said he still considers Canada his home even decades after he left the country.   “There are some people who say that I’m not a true Canadian because I roam the earth. To me that’s the most Canadian thing to do is roam the earth.”   Although governments and industry tout jobs from new and expanded pipelines, Young doesn’t agree with that sentiment.   “That’s not a job. It’s a disaster,” he said.   Suzuki, for his part, said he’s been to Fort McMurray many times and “slammed” the development there because of the environmental impact that goes far beyond Alberta.   The federal government has granted conditional approval for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry bitumen, a molasses-like crude, between Alberta and B.C.’s coast.   The project by Calgary-based En-bridge faces staunch opposition, as does Kinder Morgan’s expansion of the Trans Mountain project, which would nearly triple capacity for an existing crude oil passage from Alberta through Metro Vancouver.

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Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, left, and environmentalist David Suzuki sit for a photograph during an interview with The Canadian Press before their final show on the Blue Dot Tour at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver on Sunday. Photo: Darryl Dyck/thE caNaDIaN PrESS

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