Neil Young and the Damage Not Done


Neil Young during recent visit to Canada, by Mark Blinch
Neil Young during recent visit to Canada. Photo by Mark Blinch

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember.

A Harper man doesn’t need him around any how.

Sweet home Athabasca.

Where the skies are so blue.

Sweet home Athabasca.

 (With apologies to Lynyrd Sknyrd’s excellent song,  “Sweet Home Alabama.”)

Didn’t you just hate that rock star swooping into Canada to lecture us about the evils of the tar sands?

And now aren’t you happy that Neil Young has returned to his Hollywood friends and we can again enjoy the unfettered, good word from the Canadian government on what a swell job Big Oil is doing in northern Alberta?

Yes we know Ottawa will continue to paint only a rosy picture of the tar sands, including amplifying its message by spending millions more in taxpayer dollars on advertising. Nary a downside we will hear.

In reality, that was why Neil Young’s Honour the Treaties tour was so valuable. Someone with influence was willing to speak up against the tar sands because it is causing widespread problems while benefiting the very few  — all with the wrong-headed blessing of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

“People are dying of cancer because of this,” Young told reporters, as reported by The Tyee. “All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this … The atrocities that happened — they are much bigger than we can describe.”

Neil Young is not the chart topping rock star of old but while in Canada he was using whatever clout he had to counterbalance the outsized influence of the oil industry.

The oil industry’s petro stars have far too much sway with our legislators.  It is not an exaggeration to say the industry has rewritten the country’s environmental laws in their favour and that they are getting away with far too many environmental abuses,

We have petro-fever in Canada and the country is becoming unrecognizable with the changes wrought by the Harper government. Only strong protests by Canadians will allow us to get off this dangerous path.

“At the end of the day, I’ve heard more truth from Neil Young on the tar sands than I ever have from the Prime Minister,” said Greenpeace’s Mike Hudema in a recent post.

The breakneck pace of the bitumen reserves is causing a myriad of problems for Canada. The oil industry tells us the tar sands generate jobs and wealth for Canadians but in reality the bounty is restricted to a lucky few. The industry has a sweetheart tax deal in Canada; why else would Alberta struggle with deficits while the industry rakes in billions of dollars in profits?

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailNeil Young’s tour focused on the struggles First Nations were having with the oil industry. But we should see that they are on the front lines in a battle that is really affecting us all. Just look at the massive pools of toxic waste from tar sand development. It will take billions of dollars to clean up those toxic pools. Who will be left holding that bill do you figure?

“…Bitumen and its nasty economics will subvert Canada’s economy, erode its sovereignty, sink its manufacturing sector, and destabilize its national currency,” Andrew Nikiforuk argued in his revealing and well-reported book, “Tar Sands.”

The oil industry and our government in Ottawa are in need of restraint and we will only get action if more people take notice about what’s really happening with this vast resource.

So, Mr. Young, we do need you around — anytime, anyhow.

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