Neil Young blasts oilsands expansion, launches fundraising tour
4 concerts to fund First Nations legal fight against oilsands projects
Canadian rocker Neil Young blasted the Canadian government, saying it's "completely out of control" when it come to the environment and oilsands expansion, as he kicked off his Honour the Treaties tour in Toronto on Sunday.
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The singer, speaking to reporters before his Massey Hall concert, said he supports First Nations in their fight against expanding oilsands projects in Alberta because of their destructive impact on the environment.
"I see a government completely out of control, and money is number one. Integrity isn't even on the map," he said.
Young said he toured one of 50 oilsands sites with his son and was shocked at "the ugliest thing I've ever seen. It`s the greediest, most destructive and most disrespectful demonstration of something that has run amok."
A spokesman from the Prime Minister's Office defended Canada's natural resource sector, saying it is a fundamental part of the country's economy.
I see a government completely out of control, and money is number one. Integrity isn't even on the map.- Neil Young
"Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day," Jason MacDonald said in a statement.
"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," MacDonald added.
A spokesperson from Shell Canada said that company staff and senior leaders meet regularly to deal with aboriginal communities to discuss projects, training, business opportunities and cultural activities.
“I’m sure our folks at the mine will continue to buy the albums, but we believe this is about long term constitutional conversations, and corporations are only one part of that," said David Williams of Shell Canada.
After Sunday's Massey Hall show, also featuring Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall, Young will be performing at fundraising concerts in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary later this month.
Jackpine mine expansion
The tour is in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and its fight against Shell Canada's Jackpine mine, approved by regulators last month, as well as other First Nations fighting oilsands projects.
- Jackpine Mine will destroy wetlands and wildlife, First Nations say
- Northern Alberta band challenges Jackpine oilsands proposal
- Court rules against aboriginal groups on Jackpine decision
The Jackpine mine, located about 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, currently covers some 7,500 hectares, but is set to grow to 13,000 hectares.
Allan Adams, chief of the ACFN, said the community of Fort Chipewyan has been suffering from rapid rates rates of cancer and other such as lupus and asthma. He hopes to raise money for an independent community health study to determine the cause.
"Sure, we need development to occur to continue with the economic sustainability here in our country, but the fact remains that when are we going to say, 'Let's get this under control?'" Adams said in an interview with CBC News.
Adams also criticized the federal government for ignoring scientific research regarding natural resources development.
"How can [projects] be safe when you have the federal government excluding all of the scientists and the credible reports?" he said.