Icon doesn’t have head in the sand

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 09:48 am

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There will be an uproar when a Canadian legend hits the stage at the Jack Singer Hall this Sunday.

Yep, the iconic Neil Young will be performing to raise funds for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in its battle against further oil sands development near Fort Mac.

Young raised the ire of the oilpatch this fall when he compared the oilsands near Fort McMurray to Hiroshima at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Rather than back down and retract his words, he instead organized four concerts to raise awareness for the situation. While it’s fairly easy pickings to roast the oilsands at a concert in Toronto, it’s admirable he’s coming into the den of the lion, Calgary, to take on the oil industry.

Total honesty. I am a Neil Young freak.

I have bought eight-tracks, cassettes, records, CDs, t-shirts and twice burned Alberta fuel to see him in concert in Seattle.

However, I was also raised in Alberta and I am pro-oilsands, pro-Keystone and Gateway pipelines. Of course, my stand is based more on economics.

I like the Alberta Advantage and the goodies that come from living in a province with an oil-based economy.

For Mr. Young, he seems legitimately concerned about the planet.

No one should be surprised by his comments. His beautiful “After the Gold Rush” and the oil-industry targeted “Vampire Blues” date back to the 1970s. He has also questioned the oilsands for months on his website.

Nor should anyone be surprised when he makes comments about the Canadian government, which he called “completely out of control, and money is number one. Integrity isn’t even on the map.”

Alberta baby boomers like myself can’t applaud him for taking on Nixon in his classic “Ohio”, wanting to impeach G.W. Bush for lying, trumpet his Farm Aid benefits, and then in the next breath call Young a burned out hippie for sticking his nose in our backyard.

During an interview on CBC ‘Q’ on Jan. 13, Young said one of his goals with his tour was to inform the public and hopefully Canadians can make informed decisions.

Regrettably, most Albertans don’t have a clue whether his statement the oil sands produce the same daily pollution as all the vehicles in Canada are true. When it comes to the oilsands I, like a lot of Albertans, have put my trust totally in the hands of the Redford provincial and Harper governments.

There are plenty of Canadians and more than a few Albertans who think I have my head stuck in the tar sands — a line I saw on Neil Young’s website months ago.

The Young stop will be big news when it arrives in Calgary this weekend. I would bet it will be lead stories in papers, radio and TV.

If his stop in Calgary can cause Albertans to stop, think and discuss the pros and cons of the oilsands, it will be worthwhile.

And maybe the Hippie Dream really isn’t over.


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