Jane Fonda's appearance in Fort McMurray is a "disgusting" abuse of her fame which has infuriated city residents, says a pro-oilsands activist who confronted the actress.
"She can't come here like this and talk about us. We don't need her," said Robbie Picard, founder of the local industry booster group OilSands Strong, which has launched a social media campaign protesting Fonda's visit, describing it as hypocritical and insensitive.
"People are so supportive of this Jane Fonda campaign, it's insane. And it's because we all feel the same way," Picard said. "Why do we need anyone telling us what to do? We already have the highest environmental standards in the world."
In a tour hosted by Greenpeace, the Oscar-winning actress, well known for both her political and environmental activism, touched down in Fort McMurray Tuesday.
Fonda said she made the visit to learn about the impact of oilsands development on First Nations and to support their opposition to pipelines that would export bitumen to the United States or overseas.
After a helicopter tour of Alberta's oilsands region, she met with Indigenous leaders and environmentalists.
Fonda told CBC News that an aerial view of the open pit mines made her skin crawl.
'She's not here with an open mind'
It was during that impromptu interview outside the doors of a downtown Moxie's restaurant that Picard, armed with a cell phone, intervened and asked the actress a few questions of his own.
Picard asked Fonda if she was aware that Indigenous businesses in the region have invested millions in the oilsands — and are profiting from the industry — but he was quickly shut down by someone in Fonda's entourage.
"She's hosted by Greenpeace," he said. "That's why she's here. She's not here with an open mind.
"She's using her reach, and they're using her, and I think it's disgusting. And I think it's time that we stand up for what's going on."
Picard said he refused to be "starstruck" by the actress during the chance encounter. He's sick of celebrities touring the oilsands with environmental groups, only to disparage the industry after a few hours on the ground.
"They focus right on the mine, and it's a mine. It's not pretty," Picard said.
"They don't focus on the reclamation. They don't focus on the fact that it's barely touched any our our forest. They're going to all these videos and it's going to look horrible, and then all these stars that have never been here are going to shed a tear like they care.
"At least when they're here, we can make it a little less comfortable for them."
'They weren't here to help us when we needed them'
Fonda is the latest in a long string of prominent people who have visited the oilsands, including musician Neil Young, Hollywood director James Cameron, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Each visit, including Fonda's, has been accompanied by a backlash on social media and political criticism.
"It's still worth it, Fonda said.
"As a celebrity, there's always the contradictions — I flew here on an airplane — but our lives are rife with contradiction. Does my coming and speaking out outweigh the use of carbon to get me here? I feel that it does. We have to spread the message."
But Picard said the timing of Fonda's visit was insensitive to people like him who lost their homes in May's wildfire, which levelled thousands of homes and prompted one of Canada's largest evacuations.
"They weren't here to help us when we needed them but they sure want to come here now," he said, adding "I think most Albertans are sick of it."