Jann Arden apologizes for 'tar sands' tweet, while Fort McMurray concert sells out

Calgary-born singer Jann Arden is apologizing for a tweet she posted in 2016 calling out the environmental record of the oilsands.

Jann Arden apologizes for a 2016 tweet that condemned the environmental record of the oilsands

Jann Arden has apologized for a 'tar sands' tweet that angered people months before her scheduled Fort McMurray concert. (CBC Music)

Singer Jann Arden has apologized for a tweet she posted in 2016 calling out the environmental record of the oilsands.

After an online backlash, the Calgary-born singer tweeted she was sorry for hurting people's feelings and said her comment was not well thought out.

The Arden tweet that angered some people resurfaced on social media more than a year after it was posted and months before she was scheduled to perform in Fort McMurray. 

Oil Sands Strong, a pro-oil industry Facebook page, made a meme of her tweet, then called on its more 46,000 followers to boycott the concert.

Robbie Picard, who runs the account, called the apology a win for everyone and has deleted his original post about Arden and is no longer calling for a concert boycott.

The May 9th, 2018, meme where Oilsands Strong called out Jann Arden's 2016 tweet. It has since been deleted. (Oil Sands Strong Facebook page)

"Everybody won," Picard said. "The community won. Jann Arden won. It was very good for everyone involved. It showed we are no longer going to stand back and take attacks from celebrities without responding to them."

After the apology, Picard reached out to Arden on Twitter and offered a helicopter tour of the oilsands.

Arden immediately accepted.

Picard said he is in talks with Suncor and Syncrude about taking Arden on a tour but the date has not been worked out.

Arden fans still buy up tickets

Despite the viral social media campaign, the negative publicity wasn't enough to keep Arden fans away from her October concert in Fort McMurray.

Keyano College said its 594-seat theatre, where the concert will be held, is sold out.

Robbie Picard, pictured in this May 14, 2018 photo in Fort McMurray outside the Keyano College Theatre, says Jann Arden's apology is a win win for everyone. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Picard said though his campaign failed to spark a mass boycott and instead generated more publicity for the concert, he doesn't regret his stance.

He said Fort McMurray and oilsands companies have become too complacent as celebrities and people with influence trample on their reputations.

Fort McMurray has too much at stake, he said, including the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, which is on hold after opposition the B.C. provincial government.

"That's the fight we are up against, and it has bigger consequences than selling out a concert in Fort McMurray," Picard said. "I also know the consequences when celebrities bash our community."

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook and Twitter, or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca


David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.