Neil Young slams oilsands development in Alberta
Published Monday, January 13, 2014 11:47AM MST Last Updated Monday, January 13, 2014 6:30PM MST
Canadian singer-songwriter, Neil Young is set to play the Jack Singer Concert Hall on January 19 and continues to be outspoken about the development of Alberta’s oilsands.
On Sunday, Young was in Toronto speaking at a news conference and suggested the Canadian government is “killing” First Nations people by pushing forward with the rapid development of the oilsands. “The blood of these people will be on modern Canada’s hands,” he said.
Young will be in Calgary on Sunday for one of four benefit concerts aimed at raising money and awareness for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Defense Fund.
Shell Canada’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion plan was approved by the federal government last month despite a review panel's conclusion that it would result in severe and irreversible environmental damage.
Shell has said it will double its bitumen production in the region to 300,000 barrels a day and the project will create 750 jobs.
Young says he recently visited one of the oilsands sites and he was joined at his press conference by a panel of anti-oilsands activists and environmentalist David Suzuki.
“I want my grandchildren to grow up and look up and see a blue sky,” Young said, noting he instead only sees a government “out of control.” “Money is number one, integrity isn’t even on the map,” he said.
“The government tells us that the Alberta oilsands are the largest development on the planet,” Suzuki told the crowd. “And, of course, the economic ramifications of that are enormous. But there are also enormous social and ecological impacts, which I think have been ignored.”
Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, says the "projects are approved only when they are deemed safe for Canadians and (the) environment." He added that the resource sector creates "economic opportunities" and "high-wage jobs" for thousands of Canadians.
"Canada's natural resources sector is and has always been a fundamental part of our country's economy," MacDonald wrote in an email to news organizations.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and others living near the Jackpine mine site have said the expansion plan violates federal laws concerning fisheries and at-risk species as well as treaty rights.
Chief Allan Adam, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, raised concerns about future generations and the lack of environmental protection in Alberta’s oilsands region.
“In the last 40 years, the development that occurred on the tar sands region has gone out of proportion,” Adam said. “It is at a rate right now where your government fails to recognize the fact that we have a problem.”
In a statement last month, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the environmental effects from the Jackpine expansion plan are "justified in the circumstances."
CTV Calgary is gathering reaction to this story; if you are planning on going to The “Honour The Treaties” Concert in Calgary on Sunday and would like to speak on Young’s comments contact us at calgarynews.ctv.ca.
(With files from ctvnews.ca)