Inside Politics

Neil Young vs. PMO: Oilsands comments spark war of words

In response to a CBC News query, here's what PMO spokesperson Jason MacDonald had to say about Neil Young's just-launched fundraising tour to support First Nations groups fighting oilsands expansion:

Canada's natural resources sector is and has always been a fundamental part of our country's economy. And it continues to present a tremendous economic opportunity for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The resource sector creates economic opportunities, and employs tens of thousands of Canadians in high wage jobs, contributing to a standard of living that is envied around the world, and helping to fund the programs and services Canadians rely on.

Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day.

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. We will ensure that companies abide by conditions set by independent, scientific and expert panels.

Projects are approved only when they are deemed safe for Canadians and environment.

In addition, it's important to note that we have for the first time in Canadian history the prospect of significant economic and resource development in regions where aboriginal people are often the dominant populations and where there have been no similar large-scale economic opportunities.

Here's Young's response, which has been edited slightly for ease of reading (direct quotes from PMO statement removed):

If rock stars need oil is an official response, how does that affect the treaties Mr. Harper's government of Canada is breaking?

Of course, rock stars don't need oil. I drove my electric car from California to the Tar sands and on to Washington DC without using any oil at all and I'm a rock star. My car's generator runs on biomass, one of several future fuels Canada should be developing for the Post Fossil Fuel Age. This age of renewable fuels could save our grandchildren from the ravages of Climate related disasters spawned by the Fossil Fuel Age; but we have to get started.

As to the thousands of hard working Canadians, we have respect for all working people. The quandary we face is the job they are working on. They are digging a hole that our grandchildren will have great trouble digging their way out of. By that we mean Climate Change, the result of too much CO2 in the atmosphere There are better jobs to be developing, with clean energy source industries to help make the world a safer place for our grandchildren.

The oil sands projects are among the very dirtiest on earth. Per day, the oils sands operations produce as much CO2 as all the cars in Canada. While every gallon of gasoline from the cleanest oil sources produces 19.5 LBS of CO2, Alberta oil sands derived gasoline produces up to three times as much CO2 because of the inefficient methods used, potentially bringing the total CO2 per gallon to almost 60 LBS. This oil is going not to Canada, but to China where the air quality has been measured at 30 times the levels of safety established by the World Health Organization. Is that what Canada is all about?

As a Canadian citizen, I am concerned that this government is not acting within the advice of science.

When people say one thing and do another, it is hypocrisy. Our Canadian environmental laws don't matter if they are broken.

Not surprisingly, the debate is also raging online.


Tags: blackberry jungle, neil young, oilsands, PMO

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