Neil Young’s critics missing the point

Probably everyone is aware that Neil Young has taken aim at the Tar Sands Projects.


Probably everyone is aware that Neil Young has taken aim at the Tar Sands Projects.

His four-city concert tour to raise money to support Athabaska First Nations’ legal action to protect its treaty rights, was met with the usual polarized arguments typifying the present political climate in Canada.

Young, as most people who have witnessed the Tar Sands’ environmental damage, was not too impressed, and expressed his dismay in powerful language, language offensive to some. The federal government’s only official response came from an MP who stated that Mr. Young needs gasoline as does everyone else.

It’s true that Young arrived in Fort McMurray in an electric car.  People can be excused for believing Young’s opposition is to gasoline, but they would be wrong. Young is opposed to the Tar Sands development because it violates First Nations treaty rights and is an enviromental nightmare.

He is saying that the Tar Sands is a project that violates First Nations treaties and the Tar Sands is causing irreparable environmental damage on a scale that is unimaginable. He does, in fact, mention that the Harper government “only cares about money.” Young is making a specific connection to the current federal government’s handling of the economy and the environment. He didn’t mention he was against gasoline.

Everyone is aware that the Harper government has put $136 million of tax-payer dollars into advertisements that promote its Economic Action Plan, even though a recent report uncovered the fact that the promised jobs were not available, the advertisements therefore false.

The government has been relentless in making a connection that economic prosperity is tied to the development of the Tar Sands so that Canada may be an energy superpower.

Therefore Canadians have been led to think (and I mean led) that we can have oil and jobs, or a clean environment and no jobs.

People cannot be blamed for assuming that if there is no development of the Tar Sands then there is no gasoline to drive cars.

There is a follow-up, faulty logic that says, in order to have gasoline we need the Tar Sands, and we can quietly ignore social and legal obligations to First Nations’ treaty rights.

Neil Young is merely reminding us that the Tar Sands is not about gasoline or no gasoline; it is about a broken social contract, environmental damage, and mismanagement by government.

Peter Smith

Williams Lake