Neil Young is Right

“Take a second to really look at what you hear.” Neil Young, singer/songwriter

Neil Young knows how to rile up a crowd.  In a 15 minute press conference* to kick off his Honour the Treaties Tour with Diana Krall he said some things that sent Big Oil and a number of Canadians into orbit.  Some of these guys are well past Pluto and show no signs of coming back!

Neil Young

Unlike other eco-celebrities like James Cameron, Robert Redford and Darryl Hannah, Mr Young’s comments can’t be dismissed with a disdainful wave of the hand…because he’s right.

Let’s review.

What Neil Young really said

Leaving aside his comparison of the oil sands with Hiroshima (which isn’t that far off) Mr Young’s point is this:  Canada traded its integrity for money in the headlong rush to develop the oil sands.

The Canadian government broke its promise (enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution) to the First Nations by allowing oil sands activities to abrogate aboriginal and treaty rights without adequate consultation.

The Canadian government failed all Canadians, including future generations, by allowing breakneck development of the oil sands with inadequate consideration of the environmental impacts.

In essence, the Canadian (and Alberta) governments are a rubber stamp for industry and it’s time Canadians sat up and took notice.  Instead of blindly accepting what we’ve being told by the government and industry, we need to think for ourselves.  And if we don’t like what we hear we need to create the technologies necessary to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy—and we’d better get cracking.

Vitriol and smug condensation 

The public was outraged.  How dare Neil Young come up here in his fancy car (which has rubber tires, right) and a truckload of roadies lugging amps (which use electricity, right) to set up concerts and lecture us about the environment.  Gosh he can’t even get his facts straight!

The oil companies dismissed Mr Young as a trash talking rock star, a Chicken Little telling the public that the planet was doomed if we continued to rely on fossil fuels; and gosh he can’t even get his facts straight!

Are the critics right?

There’s little point in responding to critics who attack Mr Young for driving a car, living in a nice house or being a successful entertainer.  Personal attacks are the last resort of those who have no substantive arguments and are not worthy of response.

Instead let’s focus on the criticism that Mr Young is factually incorrect.

Brian Ferguson, CEO of Cenovus Energy, has emerged as an industry spokesman.  He outlined the industry’s position in a half page article published by the Financial Post.**

Here’s what he said:

  • Industry believes that it’s critical to develop the oil sands as fast as possible because Asia and other markets will find alternative supplies.
  • The free market found a way around delayed pipelines—it switched to rail transport.
  • The free market will determine whether there will be upgrading in Alberta (it’s a non-starter for companies with refineries elsewhere in Canada or the US).
  • The free market will not support the export of blended oil product…unless maybe it’s subsidized.
  • Opposition to the oil sands will not stop expansion, and yes, the oil sands industry is at the “higher end of the emission spectrum” so expansion will continue to exacerbate Canada’s failure to reach its green house gas targets.

Did Mr Ferguson say anything that contradicts Mr Young?  What I heard was (1) extract as fast as you can, (2) the free market (not regulation) will rule the day, and (3) oils sands projects are high GHG emitters and this problem will get worse not better.

Neil Young may have some of his facts wrong, but he’s got a crystal clear view of the big picture—and it ain’t pretty.

The governmental “rubber stamp”

Neil Young and Diana Krall are touring the country to build up the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations (ACFN) legal defense fund.    

The ACFN are challenging a number of oil sands projects including Shell’s Jackpine project which will expand Shell’s mining operations 70 km north of Fort McMurray.

A joint review panel approved Jackpine under the new provincial and federal regulatory schemes—despite the fact that it would likely have “significant adverse environmental effects” on wetlands, wetland-reliant species at risk, migratory birds, biodiversity, traditional plant potential areas, old-growth forests, caribou, and Aboriginal traditional land use rights and culture.***

Furthermore, the Panel found there was a lack of mitigation measures that have been proven to be effective.

When a Panel approves a project that will likely create significant adverse environmental effects, the project cannot proceed unless the federal government decides it is “justified in the circumstances”.

The federal environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq, signed off on the project with such speed that she failed to provide any reasons at all.    So no one knows why Jackpine is “justified” in these circumstances.

What do the ACFN want? 

It’s unfortunate that the federal environment minister, Ms Aglukkaq and natural resources minister, Mr Oliver declined their invitations to attend Neil Young’s press conference.

Eriel Deranger, ACFN

If they had come, they’d have heard ACFN spokesperson, Eriel Deranger, say that the ACFN is not asking the oil sands to shut down.****

What the ACFN wants is this:  let’s step back and re-evaluate the activity, examine the proven methods of responsible development and reclamation and reconsider the faulty consultation process.

Until this happens the ACFN is saying no to further development.

Time to think

The ACFN’s position is reasonable and deserves our support.  The federal government is up for re-election in the fall of 2015.  The Alberta government is facing re-election in the spring of 2016.

Now is the time to make your voice heard.  Write to the Prime Minister, the environment minister and the opposition leaders (with cc’s to their provincial counterparts).  Ask them to stop further development of the oil sands until Canadians are assured that future extraction will proceed under proven methods of responsible development and reclamation and Aboriginal and treaty rights are respected.

It’s the least we can do for our children, our planet and ourselves.

Neil Young, we owe you one.  Big time!

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_QAdup7G0o

**Financial Post Jan 17, 2014

***Ablawg, July 31, 2013 http://ablawg.ca/2013/07/31/shell-jackpine-jrp-report-would-the-real-adaptive-management-please-stand-up/

**** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlF_3eK83Mw

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99 Responses to Neil Young is Right

  1. Great analysis of this issue, and explained in a thoughtful easy to understand way. Support for oil sands should not mean selling out our principles, or shutting down our ability to understand the concerns of others – of course that goes both ways.

    • Agreed, the willingness to listen goes both ways. I thought the ACFN approach was well balanced. A big concern for me as a lawyer is the way the federal Environment Minister Aglukkaq approved the Jackpine project without reasons. According to U of C law professor, Martin Olszynski, Aglukkaq’s failure to provide reasons undermines the federal government’s political and legal accountability and makes the decision more difficult to challenge in court. No wonder the ACFN is building a legal defense fund. This one may go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada!

  2. Reblogged this on Unintended Consequences Documentary Project and commented:
    This is great blog about the Neil Young debate on oil sands.

  3. Mare says:

    So much to say in response, but I am off to the ACFN teach-in right now (maybe see you there?), so for now, a huge thanks, once again, for writing, so articulately, all the important points that need to be shared. So frustrated by the personal attacks (“He lives in a big house …”) — very similar to the arguments against Al Gore, as if that changes the science … sheesh.

    • Mare, the personal attacks are bizarre. Neil Young’s message is: think for yourself. No one can attack that message, but many people don’t like where it leads them, consequently it’s easier to try to discredit the messenger than make some hard decisions.

  4. I made it!! says:

    Thank you Mr. Young for speaking up! And thank you Susan for blogging about it!

  5. Excellent post Susan! Excellent.

  6. Roy Wright says:

    Your blog has cut to the quick about Neil Young and made it clear we should not be upset with Neil, but with our government who has abandoned us. When I first saw his comments in the newspaper, I was annoyed. Another outsider ridiculing us and the only reason his comments are getting media play is because he is a rock star. Then the conversations around the table started. What did he really say? Is he really wrong? I started reflecting on social change and how the 1960’s activated social causes. What motivated people and who were they? They were the early baby boomers, coming of age in the 60’s and they protested issues like women’s rights, civil rights (at least in the US) anti-war, anti nuclear and environment. Many of these issues had equal pushback from the older generation saying it was important for the economy, it was capitalism etc.

    Rachael Carson published “Silent Spring” in 1962 where she made the case against pesticides (namely DDT). People pushed back saying you needed it for agriculture, you needed it to control malaria, but government eventually banned its use for agriculture. (the malaria mosquito developed an immunity to DDT and other pesticides were subsequently used.) It was interesting to pull up information on this topic and find people are still arguing today, still making personal (and sometimes hysterical) comments such as Ms. Carson is to blame for millions of malaria related deaths.

    These young boomers had tremendous impact in the 1960’s, but then had to get down to “business”, starting to work, growing families and participating in the building of our nation. Guess what. These boomers have started to retire (the earliest ones could start retiring at age 65 in 2011). Will these aging activists decide government is no longer representing them (and their adult children)? Will they regain that social activism and use their newly found spare time (and money) to spark some needed upheaval?

    I hope so. Neil Young had the courage to challenge our government and industry. We as a “demographic” used to have courage and used to argue for the betterment of society based on principle and social justice (not personal gain). We had a hint of this activism last week in Edmonton where a group of seniors occupied Fred Horne’s office to protest the provincial government’s about face on drug plans. Does protection of our natural environment, sustainability issues, and protesting against abuses of our First Nation rights seem to parallel the issues of the 1960’s. It sure does for me. Not sure I could wear or grow a pony tail, but I would be happy to wear a tie-dye shirt and bell bottoms. Onwards!

    • Roy, if people are still arguing about Rachel Carson 52 years after the publication of Silent Spring I can see why it’s so hard to have a dispassionate conversation about the oil sands, particularly when the media keeps warping Neil Young’s message. He didn’t say shut down the oil sands. He said two things: (1) think for yourself about the oil sands and (2) I’m raising money to support the ACFN appeal of the Shell Jackpine expansion because the joint review panel said the expansion is likely to cause significant environmental damage and it tramples the rights the ACFN were guaranteed in the Constitution and their treaty rights. Anyone interested the environment and democracy should be paying attention.

      Hopefully a good chunk of that “anyone” will be the baby boomers for the very reasons you’ve set out. As an aside, one of the seniors who participated in the sit-in at the health minister’s office last week hadn’t been to a sit-in for 45 years. The Boomers are back!!!

  7. Janet Keeping says:

    Another great blog, Susan. You’ve said it a lot better than I did in my piece on Young for the Green Party of Alberta: http://greenpartyofalberta.ca/dont-like-neil-youngs-oilsands-activism-somebody-had-to-get-the-discussion-going/

    • Thanks Janet. I thought your post was very well done. No doubt it will come as a surprise readers to learn that the Green Party of Alberta, like Neil Young, isn’t saying shut down the oil sands now. Instead Young is standing with the ACFN against the expansion of the oil sands and the Green Party is arguing for a gradual reduction in the oil sands. Both are measured and rational approaches to the greater problem of GHG emissions and the need to transition to cleaner energy.

  8. Don Meredith says:

    Reblogged this on Don Meredith Outdoors and commented:
    Here is a very good analysis of the Neil Young debate on the tar sands. Sometimes you have to look past the rhetoric to what is really going on, and what is really going on is going to cause us trouble for a long time.

  9. Larry Innes says:

    Susan, I think you’ve nailed it.

  10. thomas says:

    So pathetic I don’t even know where to begin!
    Keep sticking your heads in the sandhole.
    Why let truth take the stage when we can rant and rave with our emotions, eh Neil?

  11. carlosbeca says:

    Susan I think you have a hot one here – love it.
    It does not take much to get us Canucks into orbit, unfortunately. We are now the Old World mentality as compared for example to Europeans.
    Breakneck development is always ridiculously high risk specially when it comes to oil. This kind of thinking does not surprise me though. I remember a few years back when another member of the corporate club in Indonesia said that they needed to cut down all of their rain forest so that they would have enough money in the bank for future generations! Well at least this guy thought about future generations, our gurus have a fund and deposit nothing in it. There is no concern for future generations and of course the natives are just a nuissance. The strategy is ignore the treaties because they do not have a chance in the world to even go to court. Furthermore they have already filled the Supreme Court of minds like them and so even there is doubtful these days.
    Neil will be villified and possible called unpatriotic and even terrorist. Alberta did just that with K.D.Lang in the eighties when she came out and said that she did not agree with the meat industry large scale craziness and total lack any decency as to how they treated the animals for the benefit of just have more and more meat. This is the usual treatment anyone that challenges the mumies in government get.
    Neil has a bigger footprint on the planet than any of us and I am not a big fan of celebrities being being involved in this process but we have now reached the point where anything that works will be tolerated to start moving forward as fast as we can.

    • Carlos, every so often we need to grab the tiger by the tail. 🙂

      The Canadian government just presented its sixth annual report to the UN on what we’ve been doing to manage climate change. The report is 270 pages long and I haven’t gotten through it yet, but it says this about the oilsands: greenhouse gas emissions are projected to quadruple between 2005 and 2030, resulting in an 11 per cent growth in Canadian emissions.

      We can’t just ignore the issue and hope it goes away. The challenge is figuring out what to do about it. That requires dialogue which up until now hasn’t really happened. As you said, having celebrities lead the charge is not the preferred way to go but at least Neil Young sparked a hearty discussion!

      I checked the link you provided. Great article. I especially liked the last line: “We want our country back.”

  12. Denis Hall says:

    Way to go Susan and Eriel. Neither of you has lost a step.

    Neil Young outsmarted all his detractors by a country mile, as have the rest of you for years and years. I have been to Ft. Chip once, about 18 years ago. Met many fine people. Say “hello” to Allan Adam as well as Donna and Archie Cyprienne. Denis Hall, Ph.D. (Saskatoon/Regina)

  13. Diana Lee says:

    Neil Young has an agenda and it has nothing to do with the environment or honouring treaties in northern Alberta. His initial visit to Fort McMurray was to get footage for his new movie he is making and his remarks after his visit were simply for marketing purposes. His reference to Hiroshima, as well as yours, are irresponsible and extremely disrespectful to those who died, and lived through Hiroshima. An open pit mine, anywhere in the world, is not pretty but it is NO Hiroshima. This is Hiroshima: http://www.fogonazos.es/2007/02/hiroshima-pictures-they-didnt-want-us_05.html
    I have lived in Fort McMurray for 40+ years and big oil is not going anywhere. Just once it would be nice to have someone come up with a balanced plan to extract the oil that not only serves environmental issues, marketing and business issues but infrastructure, cost of living and quality of life issues for all involved. People like Neil Young are not helping, they are hindering. The “Hiroshima” comment may have gotten peoples attention to listen to Neils retarick (sp) and take note of his movie but it shuts down lines of communication and draws battle lines. Industry in Fort McMurray is very progressive and innovative when it comes to the environment, more so than many other industries in Canada and the world, but this message always gets lost in the extremist’s or the latest celebrity’s banter.
    Your comment: “There’s little point in responding to critics who attack Mr Young for driving a car, living in a nice house or being a successful entertainer. Personal attacks are the last resort of those who have no substantive arguments and are not worthy of response.” Is humorous. People point fingers on a daily basis at everything that is wrong in Fort McMurray’s oil industry and then get in their car and putt away or fly off to some exotic holiday with all their energy made products but god forbid if you point the finger back to the end user. That’s just not acceptable….or worthy of response?? Supply and demand?
    You are right about one thing, better get cracking on renewable, economical sources of energy because if the oil was gone tomorrow you better hope you have a wood burning fire place, know someone who can hunt or fish and know how to ride a horse, and hope like hell you don’t get sick and need a hospital. I wonder what Neil would do….
    Now this is balanced: http://fortmacphilosopher.blogspot.ca/2013/09/when-neil-young-daryl-hannah-came-to.html

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Diana saying that the industry in Fort McMurray is very progressive and innovative when it comes to the environment is accepting that dumping chemicals in the rivers is an innovative cleanup process. You have lived in Fort McMurray for 40 years so you probably benefit financially from this industry as many other people do. If you do and you suggest that Neil Young has an agenda is to me quite naive. Neil is not perfect, none of us is but we have a complex situation that did not have to come to this if we simply went about it in a responsible way. We know we need this oil at least until we can move to cleaner sources of reliable energy and other healthier industries, but we do not have to just go on a binge without any smart compensation to the citizens of this province. We do not have to be raping our landscape with the only intention of providing jobs and the extreme concern of enriching the oil companies no matter what. This is where the issue is and as much as people talk about it, it does not seem to register with people that have your opinion. I am an Albertan and I do not wish to bankrupt my own province. I just want to be part of a serious conversation of how we want to have these resources exploited and used and how much pollution we are willing to accept in order to keep the province prosperous and sound. Instead I see a government that keeps lying about it, stops our representatives from participating in debates and presentations and that has no interest whatsoever in its own citizens. If Norway can get 950 billion dollars from their oil why do we need to be making cuts to education and health and whatever else and only been able to save 15 billion? The answer is because the other 900 billion have gone to the oil companies. This is ridiculous, it is criminal and I can guarantee to you that in the end they will leave the province and we will be left with our meager 15 billion to clean up the mess. You just have to look at other parts of the world where that is happening right now.
      One more comment if I may. Suggesting that Neil Young has an agenda and then using examples from Ezra Levant or the Sun network is to say the least extremely biased. The sun network is nothing but extreme right-wing propaganda and news in many cases totally controlled by the same people in the Republican Party in the US. Yes they have sometimes some important programs that reflect some reality but you are telling me that you do not trust Neil’s intentions but you do Ezra Levant’s? I am sorry to say but if you do we really are going to have a bit of a hard time understanding each other because as far as I am concerned these people just like Harper and Alison Redford do not understand discussion or have any intentions of doing anything but what they think is right.

      • Dave marvin says:

        That Norway comparison is not balanced. Alberta must share the income with the rest of Canada. Open pit mining for oil is very Labour intensive and much emphasis is on jobs, Everyone benefits, even First Nations.
        http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/First+Nations+Businesses/9283744/story.htm
        The oil sands have been polluting for thousands of years. The rivers run right through them. First Nations used the substance for water proofing for example. By law, everything must be eventually closed and covered. In time, all will return to normal. In the meantime, First Nations have an opportunity to lift themselves up and regain prominence with a product that was practically worthless in the past and may again be worthless in the future.

      • Thanks Dave, valid point in the comparison to Norway. I’m going to check with some industry friends to get their feedback. While I take your point on pollution my concern is that the scale of oilsands operations, including the need for tailings ponds, puts the pollution risk on another order of magnitude. That plus the fact that reclamation technologies have not yet reached the point where we can all heave a sigh of relief. put me in the camp that says no more expansion until we get these technical issues figured out.

    • Lynn says:

      Wow you bought in to PC rhetoric…if Neil Young is looking to promote a movie about the environment as it reflects on the oilsands…isn’t that the point. When a celebrety endorses or supports concerns over an issue they are also putting their own reputation on the line…that being said…it is someone with such status that can more effectively bring attention to something that needs it. One huge problem with the idea of oilsands dependancy is that we never consider alternatives…just like everything the current government has done in their reign…they have taken the easy road. If we did a survey of Canadians, and asked them, if they had an alternative, would they choose oilsands or a responsible cleaner solution…I think overall people may be surprised at how many would choose the latter…after all many people have a legacy for their children that they want to be a positive one. Also nobody wants to bring attention to the growing costs of climate change…depleted crops (California drought)…higher food costs; higher insurance premiums; higher health costs (pollution related disease) and on and on.

      • Lynn I agree with your comment that given an alternative many Canadians would transition from the oilsands to a cleaner energy solution. I’ve worked in the industry for years, starting with conventional oil, moving to petrochemicals and natural gas pipelines. So many people in these industries are concerned about the environment and are prepared to work hard to find better, more sustainable energy solutions, but this won’t happen unless the government steps up. It needs to set meaningful GHG targets, it needs to create and more importantly enforce meaningful environmental regulations, it needs to stop the corporate welfare that allows industry to pay reduced royalties by deducting diluent from the calculation, and most importantly it needs to get out from under industry’s thumb.

    • Diana Lee: I’ll be posting a short piece on the Hiroshima comparison later today, but wanted to come back to you as soon as I could to set the tone for this discussion. I’m very glad you commented and provided the links. We can all thank Neil Young for starting a conversation that’s long overdue.

      There are so many threads to this discussion. The most important one (for me) is the role of government in looking after the public interest. The government is supposed to balance the economic benefit created by developing the oilsands (both pace and scale) with the impact of development on the environment, First Nations, competing land use, etc.

      In my view the provincial and federal governments are biased in favour of industry. An Alberta court found that the provincial government violated the rules of natural justice by repeatedly blocking the Fort McMurray Environmental Association and the Pembina Institute from participating in oilsands project applications. The Redford government is ignoring Peter Lougheed’s sage advice (slow steady development is better than full throttle). The government stacked the Alberta Energy Regulator with industry insiders and has a poor record of enforcing existing environmental legislation. Applications like Shell’s Jackpine are approved despite the fact that they’re likely to cause significant environmental damage and the federal government ignores its duty to provide reasons for the approval; according to U of C law prof Martin Olszynski, this makes the feds unaccountable for the decision both politically and legally. And both levels of government are dragging their feet in enacting environmental legislation (Harper is waiting to see what Obama does and Redford is waiting for Harper).

      Meanwhile industry spokesperson, Brian Ferguson (CEO of Cenovus) says Canadians don’t have the time for a fulsome discussion about the development of the oilsands because “Asia and other developing nations will figure out other sources to get supply if they can’t get it from Canada.” He says we’re “…talking about weeks and months rather than years in which we have to get our minds around it and address the questions that concern us and resolve it”. (Financial Post Jan 17, 2013)

      Well, the questions that concern us are huge, we do have the time to discuss them. “We’ll figure it all out later” just doesn’t cut it. And that’s why many people welcomed Neil Young’s Honour the Treaties Tour. Yes, his carbon footprint is bigger than all of ours put together, but it took an eco-celebrity to spark the discussion in Canada because our governments and industry were not prepared to go there.

      Let’s keep talking.

      • Janet Keeping says:

        So well said, Susan. For me too the overriding issue is that government, in its inadequate regulation of, as you put it, the pace and scale (and I would add “mode” or “nature”) of development,is not acting in or protecting the public interest. The failure is a colossal failure of governance. And the level of government which could have the most direct and significant impact on development is the province.
        It’s hard to imagine a more undemocratic and foolish comment than what you’ve quoted from the CEO of Cenovus. Careful deliberation takes time. When societies don’t take that time they end up where we are, in a big mess, not just literally (as in physically on the ground) but also ethically.
        Keep up the good work. Janet Keeping, leader, Green Party of Alberta

  14. Diana Lee says:

    I’m not argueing that the pace is to fast, I’m living it. Neil Young did not start the conversation, it’s been here for a long time. However, he did push the two sides farther apart, rather than together. If you’re going to compare the mines in Fort McMurray to Hiroshima, may I suggest you compare ALL open pit mines. In my view, you are comparing apples to oranges, which is a waste of time and energy that will not result in any change, but just keep up the work of Neil in pushing the sides farther apart. As I said, i’d love to see a non-judgemental, factual and un-biased opinion of how to bring the two sides closer together for the benefit of all. Maybe some info on the land that has already been reclaimed that Neil said never happened.
    One last link on Neil’s motive. He is taking the natives for a ride, much the same as Dr. oconnor (which I know from personal experience is also a quack who should not be practising medicine anywhere) and when Neil is done with them, and has milked it for all he needs, he will again disappear. The natives in that area need a strong, sensible, intelligent and worthy advocate that will fight for them, not for fame and fortune or their 15 minutes, but for all who live and work in our region.
    http://www.torontosun.com/2014/01/20/young-changes-his-tune-at-last-canuck-concert

    This sums up my opinion after living here for most of my life. Maybe Rex is the guy that should be mediating the war. If you can argue with any of this, you are only concerned for one side of the issue, not the whole of the issue.
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=4DcnyBdlwQ4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D4DcnyBdlwQ4%26feature%3Dyoutu.be

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Diana I am not sure why this comparison with Hiroshima is making the news rather than the real issue. It sounds to me that people are diverting the real discussion as usual. This comparison as far as I can understand is the landscape. Neil is not stupid enough to be going into details of how many people died or the type of mine….etc. It is just a metaphor. The horiible landscape left by the nuclear bomb is definitely similar to the enormous area in the oilsands in Alberta. You do not find them similar?
      I do not know Neil Young but I am really surprised that you seem to be so negative about anything he has done. I am no fan of celebrities involved in any of these issues but ‘taking the natives for a ride’? If anything we as country have taken the natives for a ride since 1867 ! Some of the land where these corporations are freely excavating is theirs. Is that not worse than what Neil is doing? At least he has done what the Federal and provincial governments have not even considered, which is talk seriously about the issue rather than just hide and avoid , Harper’s favorite strategy.

      • Kathleen Lowrey says:

        What could Neil Young possibly need from “the natives” (for someone who has spent her life in the North, this phrase is pretty interesting)? He’s rich already, and as I understand he’s actually … fund-raising. And he’s NOT speaking “for” “the natives” but specifically raising funds for the Athabasca Chipewayan First Nations legal challenge… a challenge which they are bringing themselves.

        And he’s not inserting himself and declaring himself *the* mediator between “the two sides” (though, who would those “two” sides be, and where would the Canadian government fall if there are two and only two sides?). He’s actually supporting the bringing of a legal challenge (not a “debate”) by the ACFN. Aside from that, he’s just speaking his mind and encouraging others to do the same.

  15. Diana Lee says:

    There is a balance to be had and it is going to require both Government and environmentalists and Natives to ALL compromise. There are more issues in Fort McMurray than just the environment and yes, the oil sands companies here have more environmental restraints than any other industry in Canada that I know of. Yes, we are making a living in Fort McMurray, just as anywhere else that has industry as there main source of economics and fort McMurray has been good to many. Neil Young got paid, and I would imagine well paid, for his tour and fundraiser and until his little movie adventure (which will be a one sided depiction), where was he….washed up. He’s also got a little gadget he is manufacturing to sell. He needs publicity and he found it.
    Just my opinion and still wishing someone would come up with a balanced plan but I see that won’t be happening on here. You may not like Ezra but did you listen to the message?? I listened to Neil’s and do agree with some of his comments but for the most part he has no clue of Fort McMurray, this industry, and the people living here, much the same as the rest of the country. BTW, he admitted to not knowing what he was talking about.
    I see the “Hiroshima” comment I made in regards to being irresponsible and disrespectful to those who lived and died through Hiroshima was belatedly disregarded here and went well over many heads. I don’t think a comparison to say…9/11 would have been as widely accepted tho it is becoming more and more acceptable to use comparisons such as “raping” the land when there is simply no comparison to actually being raped. And no, the mines in Fort McMurray don’t look like Hiroshima….they look like open pit mines.

    That’s my rant. Best wishes to all and hopefully we see some balanced changes on all sides soon!!

    • Janet, Carlos, Diane, Kathleen
      We may have different points of view but I think we’re saying the same thing. It’s time for a fulsome, impartial discussion about the oilsands–the pace, scale, mode and nature of the development and its impact on the public interest. As Kathleen points out this isn’t so much about “sides” as about the various segments of the public interest–economic benefit to the province, impact on aboriginal and treaty rights, the environment, health, land use, the quality of life not just in Fort McMurray but all over Alberta (the cost of living in Calgary is ridiculously high), etc.

      Who should lead this discussion? Who could lead this discussion? Many of us don’t trust the government or industry. Others would not be comfortable with the Pembina Institute. What about the Canadian Energy Research Institute? It’s an independent, not-for-profit research establishment, formed through a partnership of industry, academia, and government. And it’s been around since 1975.

      Any other suggestions?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I understand your point Susan but with all due respect that is not the world we live in. Do you really think that this government would even accept any discussion even if the lead was someone like the Canadian Energy Research Institute?

      • Yes, you have a point Carlos. The real solution is to change out the government. And that raises a different question. We know where the Greens stand on the oilsands. Janet Keeping, leader of the Green Party of Alberta, stated the party’s position clearly in this post: http://greenpartyofalberta.ca/how-much-production-from-the-oilsands-not-all-or-nothing-but-less/. She argued that production should gradually decrease until we hit sustainable levels. I’m not sure where the Liberals, the NDP or the Alberta Party (or the Wildrose for that matter) stand on the issue. Hopefully we’ll hear from them soon.

        I hope they notice that even mainstream columnists like Don Braid are suggesting that the industry pause to assess the environmental consequences and social costs of its full-steam-ahead approach. This isn’t a binary decision: go flat out or don’t go at all, there are many gradations along the spectrum that may make better social, environmental and economic sense.

      • Janet Keeping says:

        Susan asks a very good question: Who would be trusted to lead a discussion on what should be done regarding development of the oil sands? I think such a discussion ideally would be led by an organization that has neither ties to industry nor fear of government — e.g., through having funding cut. While I was president of the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership I tried to convince our board that the Foundation — self-financed so able to act independently — should get involved in just such a thing. Amazing to me, directors didn’t see the oil sands issue as one of ethics in leadership — but this is exactly what it is. If anyone had the determination needed, I would recommend creation of an NGO with that specific purpose — to address the ethics of further development of the oil sands — whether further development can be justified and if so, how. It would be difficult to do (and how to finance it? I don’t know, perhaps crowd-sourcing, just to put an idealistic possibility out there) but worthwhile and possibly very effective.
        As someone involved in electoral politics — leader of the Alberta Green Party — I have made my choice as to how I want to be involved in oil sands issues, but we need lots of public interest minded people engaged in various ways trying to get those issues discussed in a meaningful, serious way.

      • Yes, a group without ties to any sector would be the best bet. But, as you say, setting it up would require a phenomenal amount of work. Janet, I’d like to follow up on the political angle. I love the fact that the Greens (you) stated their position on the oilsands so clearly. We need to push the other political parties to set out their strategies as well. Oilsands revenues drive our economy. Our economy is outstripping all of the other province, however social services like healthcare, education, eldercare, are not where they should be under the circumstances. Something is out of whack somewhere. Redford’s solution is develop the oilsands as fast as possible and pray that the pipelines get approved and built. Gambling our future on a “hope” that may or may not come to fruition 5 years down the road is not a strategy, it’s a pipedream. Surely one of the other parties can come up with something better.

    • Denis Hall says:

      You have made a clever argument Ms. Lee. It’s well stated. However, it’s hypocritical in that while you call for balance, your argument is unbalanced. And, not to mention the fact that you’ve conducted the lowest and cheapest form of attack on Neil Young’s viewpoint – ad hominem – meaning that you’ve attacked his character and personal traits in an attempt to undermine his viewpoint, you’ve not presented any attack on Big Oil. Very clever, but not valid at all.

      • Denis, on the topic of ad hominem attacks, Licia Corbella, a writer for the Calgary Herald tore another strip off of Neil Young today. She spent a half a page (over 1000 words) responding to a comment someone had made on Neil Young’s facebook page. I think her main point was that the FB post said she said Young left the engines running on his 5 buses when in fact it was the generators, not the engines. She said she’d never said it was the engines. (I checked her first story, what she said was “five rock star-style motorhomes were left running outside, spewing fumes into the Calgary air, even though they were mostly unoccupied.”). So she didn’t say “engines” and she didn’t say “generators” and WHO CARES. Why am I even talking about her second story? Because Ms Corbella is a journalist. She has access to facts. Instead of going on about the buses (again) why not set out some positive information about the oilsands. At least then we’d have some concrete facts to talk about.

      • Denis Hall says:

        Those issues she’s tried to introduce into the debate are beside the point. It’s also called shooting the messenger; in this case “the messenger” being Neil Young or anyone else who steps up and takes on Big Oil. The story is the oil sands and their damaging of the local and overall environment.

      • Denis, shoot the messenger is right! Speaks volumes about the pathetic state of journalism, or perhaps its willingness to kowtow in Cow Town.

    • Diane, thank you for the link to E. Angelina’s blog. She presents a clear-eyed “insider’s” perspective on the Honour the Treaties tour. She’s right when she says that the tour quickly turned into a media frenzy focusing on Neil Young’s credibility instead of an opportunity to better understand the impact of the Shell Jackpine expansion on rights flowing from Treaty 8.

      The big question is why. Why didn’t the media stay for the “teach-in” after the press conference? Why didn’t media press harder for information about ACFN’s concerns about treaty violations? A cynic would say the media failed all of us because, to quote Angelina, engaging the “public in a transformational conversation about how the treaty is a living document and is just as relevant today as the day it was signed” doesn’t sell newspapers. (More on that topic in tomorrow’s blog).

      Angelina worries that the rhetoric generated by the tour may put the ACFN in a position where they have to choose–are they with industry or against it. I don’t know why the issue has to be painted in this win/lose fashion–for the ACFN or for all Albertans. And yet, notwithstanding the more balanced position taken by many environmental groups, the Green Party and the NDP (who can’t advocate upgrading in Alberta if they want to shut everything down) someone (who?) continues to characterize the decision as an either/or proposition.

      There are more than two sides to this discussion and more than two ways to resolve it. That’s why we need to keep talking and that’s why I’m glad Neil Young came to town to jump start the conversation.

  16. Diana Lee says:

    Ms. Hall, i have stated clearly that there are many issues with big oil and not just the environment. I also stated that i listened to NY and agreed with some of his points. If NY was truely an environmentalist concerned with issues regarding the oil sands, treaties, etc., where was he when the oil spill happened, not too long ago, off the coast of Texas and Florida? Why isn’t he trying to clean up his own back yard, which is worse than ours? Why would I listen to anyone who publicly admits that they know nothing of the issues? Why would he be commenting on issues he knows nothing about? Tides Foundation perhaps? If somebody doesn’t know anything about the issues i certainly don’t want them weighing in on them, especially issues that are this close to heart and in my home. Most of NY’s comments are the ones that are not vlid at all, by his own admission no less, but people are still listening to and defending him….scary.

    • Diane, is this your comment or one you’re passing along on behalf of someone else?

      • Denis Hall says:

        Many of you and other critics of Neil Young are off base. Perhaps they and you can’t help it.

        The issue was and remains Neil Young’s argument against Big Oil and the merits of his argument as per facts and logic. So far, no counter argument as per facts and logic have been thrown up by Big Oil and or its supporters or anyone else. It’s that simple.

        However, people in this sphere of discussion who cannot or choose not to argue facts and logic – like Ms. Lee – have conducted a lower level of counter argument by trying to discredit Neil Young personally. It’s called “ad hominem attack” and it’s cheap.

        In the meantime, Neil Young’s argument, based on unchallenged facts and logic so far, remains unchallenged. Perhaps his facts and logic could and should be challenged. Maybe not. But please spare us all the cheap ad hominem stuff.

        So, is there anyone out there who can counter Neil Young’s argument with facts and logic? I’m watching and waiting.

        Y’er Welcome !

  17. Thanks Denis! I too would like to hear some substantive counterarguments to Neil’s position.

  18. Diana Lee says:

    That is my comment as were all the above. I guess NY’s supporters dont want to discuss his lack of knowledge, he admits to, his lies, such as there is no reclamation which there infact is, or his motives for jumping into and helping fundraise for the natives involved. There are quite a few links above that argue facts and logic, if you are willing to hear them.

    Angelina: “When I recommended that the message be clarified and moved to a more balanced one, away from the virulent anti-oil and anti-industry position, I was told that Neil’s publicists and the inner group didn’t want to appear they were backing down. At that point, it became clear that the tour ostensibly about Treaties, was really about anti-oil at all costs.” As far as I can read this would be why the tour was anti-oil, anti-industry rather than what the message was supposed to be. You are right tho, NY probably would not have gotten as much publicity or dollars if he would have honored the message of his tour.

    I believe that there was no meeting between the tour members and the Oil industry because the tour members would not agree to a mediator, if I read that right in the blog. As for the “teach in” I have no idea. I do agree with you that the press doesn’t always help the balancing process and are more concerned about Rob Ford and Justin Beiber than anything else.

    I think Angelina stated in her blog why there may have to be a choice made with industry or without.

    • Diane, the Pembina Institute says that only .15% of the oil sands has been certified by the provincial government as reclaimed. http://www.pembina.org/oil-sands/os101/reclamation. This means that 99.85% of the oilsands are not reclaimed. I think Neil Young can be forgiven for rounding up that number to 100%. Angelina’s blog indicated that she was of two minds with respect to the Honour the Treaties Tour. She was glad to get the funds the ACFN will need to fight the legal battle but she was concerned that NY’s strong opinions might negatively impact the ACFN’s relationship with industry. Her concerns do not undermine NY’s argument that Canada has turned its back on the promises it made in Treaty 8 (the federal environment minister owed it to the ACFN and all Canadians to state why the Shell Jackpine expansion was appropriate in these circumstances, but she said nothing). The fact that the provincial and federal governments are standing back and allowing industry to “rip and ship” (Thomas Mulcair’s phrase) is of deep concern to people like me who see this as an abdication of governmental responsibility. As I said in earlier, this is a difficult and complex issue, it shouldn’t be boiled down to a “shut ‘er down or run ‘er flat out” decision. The other political parties are trying to start the dialogue but industry and the provincial and federal governments refuse to participate. That’s the real issue here.
      PS you’re absolutely right about the press. Their (non)coverage of the real issues is appalling.

    • Denis Hall says:

      So Ms. Lee, what facts and logic can your articulate? We’re waiting.

  19. Diana Lee says:

    I believe the land that can be reclaimed at this point have been reclaimed. Is pebina talking about land that has been reclaimed compared to the entire lease or what is in the process of being mined? I believe the percentage is closer to 20% of what has already been mined. Could be wrong on that % tho. Wouldn’t be hard to find out and do the math i guess. I totally agree that both Governments have gone too fast and handed out leases wayyy to quickly and I do wish they would take a step back and reevaluate some issues. At the very least, let our community catch up with itself. Wont hold my breathe tho.

  20. Diana Lee says:

    This is just Syncrude. I believe possibly Suncor and another site have areas of reclamation as well.
    http://www.syncrude.ca/users/folder.asp?FolderID=5909

  21. Thanks for this Diana. I’ve been digging around a bit and came up with a statistic from Ezra Levant (which is kind of ironic given my post of today). He puts the reclamation number at 70 square acres which doesn’t jibe with the Syncrude information. Anyway, I’ll keep checking.

  22. Diana Lee says:

    At the bottom of the syncrude info it states that the definition of reclaimed land was changed by the government in 2011 so this might have an effect as well. Non the less, it has been reclaimed and dirt put back so to speak but they must have more requirements to adhere to before being “certified” as reclaimed. I think CNRL might have some reclaimed as well but maybe not certified yet. Bottom line, the process is in place and wil continue as they finish mining certain areas. One of my biggest concerns at present is the pace and the water consumption/river issues. Hopefully this is dealt with before al the sites are in full swing.

  23. Diana Lee says:

    http://environment.alberta.ca/02863.html

    I came up with 7%+ but my math skills are rusty so i could be wrong! I think some of the confusion comes in from the changes made by the government in the reqirements for certification. As i said before, it is happening so we know NY was wrong on that info.

    • Diane, my industry sources pulled up the Syncrude reclamation certificate (granted March 2010). It covers roughly 1 square km (104 ha) of land. It took Syncrude 10 years to reclaim this land. By his math 1 square kilometer or 1/760.7 of disturbed land is equal to 0.13 percent.
      Another industry source says the reclamation technology is “pretty well established” (which was news to me) but that the slow progress is the result of bad planning, poor organization, inadequate funding for reclamation with too much time spent on studies, reviews and consultations instead of getting at it. He notes that one issue is the agreeing on the objective of reclamation. How do you replace a complex of forests and low-lying wetlands? With reforestation (high cost) or dry hilly upland suitable for hiking and buffalo farming (lower cost).
      I would love it if someone from industry would give us a better number, but so far they haven’t.
      Given that the government refuses to consider slowing down the expansion all we can do is insist that it enforce its environmental regulations and hopefully put in better measures to reduce the GHG effect even further.

  24. Blain says:

    It’s one thing to criticize the decisions made with Shell’s Jackpine project, it’s totally another to slam the whole area because of it. All I hear is talk about how bad the oil sands are. You wouldn’t happen to be another so called “expert” on the place that has never stepped foot in the town, are you? There has been verbal bashing on both sides of the argument. What seems to be forgotten is a thriving city of +130k who call Fort Mcmurray home. Even Allan Adam said the oil sands were a vital part of Fort Chips survival. The whole point of Neil coming here was just to say he was here and he witnessed it. Trouble was, he only wanted to see the open pit mining ( his Hiroshima ) and ignore everything else. Even James Cameron pulled back his horns a bit when he seen the place. Yes development is key, but the big boys that have been in the race since the beginning are going to great lengths to reclaim the land and reduce emissions. Too much will never be enough! As for the Ministers, I cannot blame them for not attending. I doubt an intelligent conversation could be had with all the false propaganda that they spew. First Nations falsifying cancer cases ( look it up ), David with his environmental extremism and Neil with his tunnel vision and vulgar mouth. I agree, solutions need to be found but progress takes time. You can’t land on the moon when all you have is a steam engine. We need to work together to reach a common goal and this kind of bickering and ankle biting is getting us nowhere fast. It creates conflicts instead of solutions. Climate change is a normal cycle, check your history, that agencies use for scare tactics and as a money grab. Mother Earth has been around a long time and if this virus we call humanity gets too out of hand, don’t worry, she will vaccinate herself.

    • Blain, your comments bring to mind a variety of thoughts but here is just one: you write as if there is something wrong with voicing criticism of the oil sands, as if we should all get behind the same understanding of what is going on. I think that thoughtful criticism is not to be avoided but on the contrary to be encouraged.
      All of us (industry and government included) have to be able to meet criticism with evidence and arguments in support of what we believe to be true. In that way, the public can hear many “sides” and decide for itself what seems the most believable, the most plausible.
      In my view — and I’ve lived in Alberta since 1973 — one of the main problems with our political culture is this pressure to conform. There is a popular myth that Albertans are “mavericks” and maybe in some contexts we as a group are. But this social pressure to conform to the main party line has done us real harm. If more of us had been more openly critical of the oilsands earlier then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in where development has proceeded before solutions to serious and entirely predictable problems (e.g., tailings ponds) have been found.
      That is the biggest problem in my view: we have allowed development to zoom ahead without adequate thought, research and planning in advance. So we are always playing catch up and doing irreparable harm in the process. Not very smart in my view and a clear violation of the precautionary principle.
      Janet Keeping, leader, Green Party of Alberta

      • Thanks Janet. Your response sums it up perfectly. I have nothing to add…other than I would hate to see the day when Mother Earth is forced to vaccinate herself against humanity.

      • Blain says:

        Hahaha, believe it or not I do agree with you on management and thoughtful criticism. My comment was regarding the outlandish remarks by extremists and hypocrites to try and stir emotions of disdain while trying to make an albiet legit point. It just angers people on both sides and nobody wants to talk, just bash. As for tailings, it is an unfortunate result but new technologies are being developed and these things take time. Reclamation does not happen overnight either but progress is being made. We have a resource that the world needs and despite the propaganda that it is dirty oil, it is still more “ethical” than the oil gotten from countries where people are stoned to death. There are rewards to be had by all and the rest of the world has us under a magnifying glass, we don’t need to give them a microscope! All I’m saying is we should stick to the facts and then maybe solutions may be found. Thanks for the comment!

  25. David Grant says:

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for your insightful article. I have referenced it in my response to a desmogblog.ca posting(excellent blog for demonstrating the absolute deceit and deception is the media’s covering of climate change)concerning a piece Emma Gilchrist wrote entitled “Neil Young: Productive or Polarizing”. As a I said in my response, Neil is doing us a service by bringing these issues to light. He has found that we decide to weigh in on this issue you are automatically anti-Albertan, unpatriotic, and a lot of other things(read David Veitch’s piece on desmogblog.ca about the stupidest arguments that his opponents have labelled him with). It is very difficult to talk about this issue(I live in Calgary)but it has to be done. I think history will be very kind to Neil Young and the others who spoke out against industry and government who stood in the way of trying to build a different future. That is, of course, if we have a future. Take care.

    David Grant

    • David, your comment on Emma’s blog was bang on. Industry and the provincial and federal governments have turned their backs on the environment. Shaun Fluker, a U of C law prof wrote an ABlawg post about the joint panel’s approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline. He points out that while the Species At Risk Act does not prohibit the panel from authorizing an activity that will jeopardize the existence of a species (ie wipe it out), it does require the panel to consider all reasonable alternatives that would reduce such impact. He describes the risks that tankers running out of Kitimat pose to the humpback whale population and concludes that the panel should have considered the alternative of locating the terminal in Prince Rupert instead of Kitimat. The fact the panel blew by this alternative provides pipeline opponents with grounds for appeal (thank god for the courts!).

      It is shameful that we’ve been forced into pro and anti-oilsands camps, but given the lack of balanced regulatory oversight it’s not surprising.

      Thanks also for pointing out that Calgarians (I’m one as well) are in a very difficult position. The pro-development sentiment runs so high that even raising the possibility of slowing down to better understand the impacts of oilsands development puts us at risk of being tarred and feathered.

      Take care and welcome to the Soapbox!

  26. David Grant says:

    Thanks Susan. Actually I work at the Law Library and I have gotten to Shaun Fluker and he does know a lot about environmental law so I would have to check it out. Your comments about the oil industry and position we are in are similar if we are mining or forestry province. Still, we can’t shirk from our responsibility to do what we can to inform people of the problems of this industry and possibilities of renewable energy-which we can have if we want it.

  27. You’re right David, the issues are the same and we have to do what we can to inform others who may not be aware of them. Here’s the link to Shaun’s post in case you and the readers would like to check it out. http://ablawg.ca/2014/02/05/get-ready-for-a-whale-of-a-time-northern-gateway-and-species-at-risk/.

    • Blain says:

      Commentators on the Soapbox are not moderated after their first post, however if their comments are disrespectful or otherwise inappropriate they will be removed. This comment was removed for disrespectful content.

      • Carol Wodak says:

        So many angry words that I don’t know what you’re saying, or who or what you’re angry with, or why, or what evidence you think has been missed in this discussion. How has this discussion been so threatening to you?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan let Blain’s comment be displayed. These people have to learn to have a real discussion rather than using their well know neo-con strategy of silencing everyone with insult, arrogance and nonsense. I do not talk for everyone else but he can call be a bigot anytime he wishes. I am up for the challenge.

      • Carlos, I understand your perspective but the comment has been permanently removed. Here’s why. The Soapbox is different from a number of blogs in three ways.

        First, it’s not moderated on an ongoing basis. Comments are moderated once—the first time a new commentator comes to the site—and that’s it. (Although WordPress is finicky and the moderator function may kick in if a comment contains a link or something WordPress doesn’t like).

        Second, I haven’t issued guidelines for commentators warning them that personal attacks or offensive comments will not be published. My expectation is that people who follow the Soapbox will pick up the tone of the blog and frame their comments accordingly.

        Lastly, the Soapbox is followed by doctors, lawyers, university professors, health professionals, businessmen, politicians from every political party in Alberta, and thoughtful commentators like you. Out of respect for my readers I won’t let a commentator derail the discussion, so the comment is off and it stays off.

        Carlos, this is the first comment I’ve removed since I started blogging in 2010. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain my reasons for doing so.

  28. Carlos Beca says:

    Yes Blain we are a bunch of idiots and what a waste of your precious time! You have it all right, you are the one who really has the facts, the rest of us people should just crawl and disappear in shame. Thank you for your message and please do not waste your intelligence here.

    • Blain says:

      I did not call anybody idiots! Sorry, “bad day” and I apologize for the strong comments!! Seems you are a bit passionate with words yourself. I should have reevaluated before I posted and I missed a few comments between which certainly didn’t help. I was supporting Diana lee’s (though she probably doesn’t want to be accociated with me now hahaha) position and giving citations of how Neil has no credibility. Sorry if you didn’t get that! Thanks for the response and leave my diaper alone.

  29. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan I fully understand your reasons and they are correct. I just feel so eager to get these people by their diapers. I am tired of this terrorist type strategy that have no place anywhere.
    It is disgusting and these people have to have someone helping them to grow up. Say your points, discuss them and be respectful of others. It really is not that complicated.

    • Yes, I know, but it’s the “good for the goose, good for the gander” rule…if they can’t trash us, then we can’t trash them. So it’s time to move on. Surely you’ve got an interesting link you could share with us? 🙂

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Well I have most of the times – I have an obsession with political and social events and I have a passion to make this province what it deserves to be. We have imense talent, we were even blessed with natural resources and land, but we seem to be constantly struggling with bad management. Not that we do not have the people to do it. I know we do, we just do not seem to get our heads together and move forward like the wind. To me it feels like a majestic waste of opportunity.
        I have been trying to refrain myself from posting them because I do not think I should and I really do not want to in any way do something that may be interpreted as inappropriate or unkind or that annoys you in any way. Believe it or not, and despite the fact sometimes I sound agressive (so my friends and family tell me), I do not intend to be agressive at all. I do have profound respect for anyone’s opinions including those of people like Blain. Discussion is the basis of a great democracy.

      • Carlos, it does feel like an “obsession” sometimes doesn’t it. I followed politics from a distance until we moved to the US. We arrived a couple of months before 9/11 and saw what that did to the nation. People were terrified and the Bush government took advantage of their fear. The superheated rhetoric and loss of civil liberties was frightening. We came back to Canada and saw the Harper government taking baby steps in the same direction. The last straw was finding ourselves in a province that has so much wealth and yet couldn’t provide basic services for the old, the young and the frail. We all need to find a way to express ourselves without sounding like raving lunatics! If we can do that we can get a dialogue going and hopefully improve our understanding of how the other guy thinks.
        You’re right, discussion is the basis of a great democracy. Thanks Carlos.

      • Blain says:

        For what it’s worth, sorry for disrespecting you and your page. Thank you for removing it! Hey… First time for everything! It’s just very upsetting that Neil calls himself a Canadian when it convenient for him.

      • Blain, apology accepted. We have differing opinions and as long as we express them respectfully we’ll be fine. Thanks.

  30. David Grant says:

    In terms of Neil Young, I think he does care about Canada and in every interview he talks a lot about Canada and how it has made him the great musician that he is(I am biased because I am a major fan). I think Alberta does have a chance to clean up its carbon footprint and become just as prosperous doing other things. I certainly don’t begrudge people from elsewhere making a living, but you also simply can’t justify everything because there is an economic benefit to it. If that were so, slavery would still exist(and it still does in a lot of other places)and we would mining asbestos. I read a bit of Chris Turner’s book called the Leap and he sets out a lot of possibilities for renewable energy. If you look at Germany that have made great strides in the past decade(even though they have a lot of nukes). If we are able to have the technology to get the oil out of the tar sands, we can certainly use it to better uses.

    • David, just this week two different people directed me to the Pembina report “Greening of the Grid” which sets out two green scenarios. The aggressive green scenario says that Alberta could move from 70% coal to 70% renewable energy in 20 years. Here’s the link: http://www.pembina.org/pub/1763. It’s possible…all we need is some courageous politicians who understand that “trust industry” is not a sustainable strategy.

  31. David Grant says:

    Thanks Susan. I have bookmarked the Pembina Institute because I have found that they provide a lot of good solid, peer-reviewed information even though they have bias(how shocking). I think that it isn’t just politicians, it is industry and it is us. Industry is afraid that they will lose a lot of profits because if people can install wind turbines and solar panels in their homes, farms, or condos and/or apartments, then they lose a lot of profit. They are the real Luddites here. People also don’t have the understanding or they are making a good living in the oil industry and they don’t have to give that up. Actually of lifestyles will have to change if we want to survive. It is said that if the rest of the developing world were to live as we do here in the West(North America not western Canada)than it would take five planets to do so. Having said all of that it is indeed possible. In the meantime each of us has to decide how they can reduce their footprint as well as engage in the political process to see these dreams become a reality.

    • I enjoyed your remarks, David. I would add that our provincial and federal governments should do much, much more to ensure — through appropriate law and regulation — it is as easy as possible for us to reduce our footprints. A lot of people want to do so but don’t have the time to research what is possible. For example, provincial law could require that new home builders offer (not require) purchasers a roof-top solar panel package so they can reduce their reliance on the electricity grid. There are tons of other examples of how government could support moves to sustainability rather than favour the dirty old industries. Janet Keeping, leader of the Alberta Green Party

  32. Denis Hall says:

    I suggest to you that the current University of Regina cheerleading scandal is just the tip of the racist-attitude iceberg that exists between most non-aboriginals and aboriginals in our society. Aboriginals are rightly outraged about how what is an all-white female cheerleading squad negatively depicting aboriginal women. It’s awful.

    The University of Regina President and the Kinesiology Faculty Dean have apologized. That’s nice. But each member of the cheerleading squad needs to be identified by name and to individually say they’re sorry? How about their parents saying they’re “sorry” too, for their role in the development of the racist attitude possessed by their young-adult offspring? Racism is learned first and foremost in the home.

  33. Pingback: ABlawg: The Year in Review | ABlawg

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