Neil Young concert tour surpasses anti-oilsands fund goal

As singer Neil Young rejects an invitation from a petroleum producers group to meet, his concert tour to raise money for opponents of Alberta's oilsands has passed its $75,000 goal.

Last concert in 'Honour the Treaties' tour took place in Calgary Sunday

Neil Young takes media questions at a press conference in Calgary ahead of his final anti-oilsands concert. He was joined by others concerned with oilsands activity, including David Suzuki, University of Alberta water scientist David Schindler, and Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, which will benefit from the proceeds of Young's concert tour. (CBC)

Singer Neil Young says his controversial anti-oilsands tour has passed its $75,000 goal to raise money for a northern Alberta reserve's fight against oilsands development. 

"The tour has been a great success," Young said at a press conference in Calgary just prior to the last of four fundraising concerts.

"Awareness was raised. Now Canada must respond in the courts," he added, referring to a lawsuit launched by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation against Shell Canada's expansion of its Jackpine mine, a project even Ottawa has admitted will likely cause significant adverse environmental effects."

We will be positioned to match the legal power of our opposition dollar for dollar.- Neil Young

Proceeds from Young's tour will support the first nation's legal defence fund.

"We will be positioned to match the legal power of our opposition dollar for dollar," Young said.

Young said he would not accept an invitation from a petroleum producers group to meet prior to Sunday's concert.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers issued a statement Sunday saying it offered to "have a balanced discussion" with Young and ACFN Chief Allan Adam.

Young said CAPP would not accept environmental activist David Suzuki as a moderator. Young appeared on stage with Suzuki, along with University of Alberta water scientist and oilsands critic David Schindler and ACFN Chief Allan Adam.

"It's like water off a duck's back," remarked the singer when asked about how he faces criticism of his stance.

Environmentalist David Suzuki moderated a press conference prior to Neil Young's final anti-oilsands concert. (CBC)

Young was challenged by a reporter Sunday about his use of a private jet.

"Would I be able to take my carbon footprint and erase it, what I've caused with that in my life?" he said.

"I doubt it. But possibly, if I can do enough now to change the way the world is going, now that I'm educated about what's happening on the earth and what's happening on the planet."

Young garnered considerable publicity last week with his first three concerts and has generated considerable debate.

His tour wraps up tonight in Alberta, the province with the most at stake in the debate over the economic and environmental effects of oilsands development

His Calgary performance follows stops in Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina where Young dropped statements about the oilsands that many denounced as over-the top.

'Hiroshima' comment continues to anger

Young stuck by statements that the oilsands mining projects near Fort McMurray resemble the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945.

He also claimed during the past week that bitumen transported on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas would end up in China — a country he says is one of the dirtiest in the world.​

I just turned your CDs into landfill. So disappointed,- Terri Windover on Young's Twitter account

Young's Hiroshima claim prompted some Twitter users in the Fort McMurray area to post pictures of natural scenes of rivers, lakes and forests under the hashtag #myhiroshima.

Many of the photos are accompanied by comments such as, "The 'wasteland' behind me house," or "Dog sledding through nuclear wasteland," and are clearly meant to highlight the discrepancy between the rock star's portrayal of their home and what they say is the reality outside their doors.

"I just turned your CDs into landfill. So disappointed," tweeted Terri Windover to Young's official Twitter account.

Compared to actress Jenny McCarthy

Catherine Swift, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, posted in .myhiroshima that Young was the "Jenny McCarthy" of the "anti-economic success anti-well-paying jobs movement."

McCarthy, a former model and actress, vehemently claims childhood vaccinations cause autism and other disabilities, despite those claims having been disproven by rigorous scientific research.

"Keep on rockin' in the dumb world," Swift tweeted.

TransCanada, the company proposing to build the Keystone XL pipeline, has countered that the pipeline would be a
conduit for U.S. refineries.

Jim Cuddy from the Canadian band Blue Rodeo called Young's comparison of the oilsands with Hiroshima extreme.

Still, Cuddy suggested that Young has triggered a national discussion about the oilsands that is long overdue.

Young remained unbowed throughout the week, and warned on Thursday that Alberta could end up looking "like the moon" if land isn't preserved.

"It is like a war zone, a disaster area from war, what's happened up there," Young told a news conference ahead of his Winnipeg concert.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC's Meghan Grant


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?