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Monday, January 20, 2014

OPEN LETTER: Prominent Canadians Support Neil Young's Anti Tar Sands Campaign

Neil Young
Jack Singer Concert Hall - Calgary, Alta., Sunday January 19, 2014
Photo Gallery by Mike Drew/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency | Calgary Sun
(Click photo to enlarge)

Finally, we see some prominent Canadians step forward to support Neil Young's "Honor The Treaties" tour.

From CBC News:
More than 20 notable Canadians have penned a letter to support musician Neil Young following his concert tour to raise money for a First Nation fighting oilsands expansion in northern Alberta.

The group includes creative and performing artists, authors, scientists, a lawyer, and Order of Canada recipients.

Actor Neve Campbell, Booker-prize-winning author and Officer of the Order of Canada Michael Ondaatje and musician Gord Downie of the rock group The Tragically Hip are among those who have signed the letter.

It says that Young's tour raised more than $500,000 to help the Athabasca Chipewyan band pay for legal fees to protect its traditional land north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

The letter also says that Canada must decide if it wants to support First Nations rights and protect the environment.

"The time has come for Canada to decide if we want a future where First Nations rights and title are honoured, agreements with other countries to protect the climate are honoured, and our laws are not written by powerful oil companies. Or not."

"Instead of focusing on Neil Young's celebrity, Prime Minister Harper should inform Canadians how he plans to honour the treaties with First Nations," the letter said.

Campbell said in a written statement that while she has always been proud to call Canada her home, "now as a Canadian I feel deeply ashamed to see that our government has allowed the selfish profiteering of powerful oil companies, and blatantly ignored the health, well-being, and lives of our country's First Nations, as well as of the well-being of our world’s climate."

Downie of The Tragically Hip said, "I stand in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations and all Canadians who find themselves with no voice in our present version of democracy, who are trying to come up with the entry fee that gets them a seat at the table where their pollution future is being discussed."
Full text of the open letter:
On his Honour the Treaties tour, Neil Young is doing what poets do - forcing us to examine ourselves. This is hard enough on a personal level and it can be even more difficult when we are being asked to examine the direction in which our country is headed.

The time has come for Canada to decide if we want a future where First Nations rights and title are honoured, agreements with other countries to protect the climate are honoured, and our laws are not written by powerful oil companies. Or not.

Neil’s tour has triggered the Prime Minister’s Office and oil company executives. They have come out swinging because they know that this is a hard conversation and they might lose. But that should not stop the conversation from happening.

Instead of focusing on Neil Young's celebrity, Prime Minister Harper should inform Canadians how he plans to honour the treaties with First Nations. This means ensuring the water, land, air, and climate are protected so the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations and other First Nations communities be able to hunt, fish, gather plants and live off the land. Canada signed at reaty with them 114 years ago, and this must be honoured.

The world is watching as we decide who we will become. Will we disregard the treaties we have with First Nations? Will we continue to allow oil companies to persuade our government to gut laws, silence scientists, and disassemble civil society in order to allow reckless expansion of the oil sands?

We are proud to stand with Neil Young as he challenges us all to think about these larger, more profound and humane questions.

Now is the time for leadership and to honour promises that we have made, not personal attacks.

Michael Ondaatje, author, Officer of the Order of Canada
Margi Gillis, dancer,
Member of the Order of Canada
Clayton Ruby, lawyer, Member of the Order of Canada
Dr. David Suzuki, scientist,
Companion of the Order of Canada
Dr. David Schindler, scientist, Officer of the Order of Canada
Stephen Lewis, Companion of the Order of Canada
Joseph Boyden, author
Gord Downie, musician
Sarah Harmer, musician
Naomi Klein, author
Dr. John Stone, scientist
Tzeporah Berman, author
Amanda Boyden, author
Neve Campbell, actor
Wade Davis, author
Dr. Danny Harvey, climate scientist
J.B. MacKinnon, author
Dan Managan, musician
Sid Marty, author
Andrew Nikiforuk, author
Rick Smith, author
John Valliant, author
Ronald Wright, author


At 1/20/2014 07:51:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run... said...

Thrasher, it just takes one person to ask the question, "why?" It doesn't take a rocket scientist to ask it or require one to find an answer.

At 1/20/2014 08:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prime Minister Harper should inform Canadians how he plans to honour the treaties with First Nations. This means ensuring the water, land, air, and climate are protected so the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations and other First Nations communities be able to hunt, fish, gather plants and live off the land. Canada signed at reaty with them 114 years ago, and this must be honoured.
What more needs to be said?

At 1/20/2014 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

The so-called prominent Canadians you list ..... all burn more oil than the people they pretend to speak for , WOW .... is this what it has come to .
Quoting self appointed prominent people to substantiate your opinion .
As Dylan wrote , the times are a changing , the oil burning hippies are now the prominent ones on top preaching to us !
Holy Ole liftin bald headed Nelly !
Neil is running out of fingers to point with , in the 80's he was against the cleanest nuclear energy , remember the coke fueled Human Highway , I remember !
No worries Neil , we have plenty of uranium up here in Canada , we'll sell ya twenty dollars worth !
He has become a caricature of himself !

At 1/20/2014 09:02:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@EH: This is from NY:

"To [you] and the multi-personalty bile spewing personae you have created.

You have tenacity. I'll give you that.

You are well versed in the Preston Manning school of media manipulation. But your methods are old and tired. Just like your politics. We all know who you represent. We are not stupid. That's your fundamental flaw - you underestimate us. We are Canadians. We read. We know things. You have no moral compass.

I have nothing but disdain for your tactics."

At 1/20/2014 09:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@EH. I thought you made a pretty good point. Human Highway indeed! Lord. But kudos to Neil for at least getting people talking. Lets see if they're still talking about it next week.

Mr. Negative Man

At 1/20/2014 09:51:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature said...

Neil's goal was to help this group raise enough money to take legal action against the Government for violating the treaty and putting their people at risk. His long journey proved to be eye-opening. No human should be forced to live under the risk of being exposed to the toxins. If people volunteer to live there or accept employment- that's their choice. But this land belongs to the First Nation.

At 1/20/2014 11:52:00 PM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

Hey Thrasher , my name is John Connelly , what's yours ?
Oh , you speak for Neil himself do you ?
HA !
I am a free minded Canadian that lives , works and votes in Canada and am not beholden to any political party , group or cult !
What are You ?
I burn oil to drive my car , I burn wood to heat my house , and use electricity to type these words , all of which we are all slaves to .
I'm thinking of putting out an album to raise funds in hopes of rendering pork belly fat candles that will boil water and propel my steam powered tricycle !
I call it PorkVolt , as in fat pigs that are at the trough grunting poor Mother Earth , all the while hiding behind the $55,000.00 feathers of First Nation Canadians .
Shame Shame

At 1/21/2014 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I am so PROUD to BE a NEIL YOUNG Fan!

At 1/21/2014 12:02:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Shame Shame is right. You are a fool!

At 1/21/2014 12:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how much anger and vitriol, one old hippie managed to stir up in Canada.

It comes down to this, will the Canadian gov't honor its own constitution, not to mention the signed treaty, OR, will it go the way the United States did in how it treated its native population?

Not for nothing, but Canada disappoints me a bit. I first went there in 1994, found the people to be good natured and friendly, a beautiful country. But here within the last 7,8 years or so, its pretty much just like the US now. Not much difference, other than healthcare and its love of hockey.

At 1/21/2014 01:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no freedom in being a slave to oil companies controlling government or being a slave to China hefty appetite for cheap fossil fuels.

At 1/21/2014 01:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hey Thrasher , my name is John Connelly , what's yours ?"

Gotta love that! John, I really do respect what you had to say. It's the most sane thing I've read on here in weeks.

"There's a Pork in the Road!!" Come on people. It's okay to laugh at ourselves sometimes.

Negative Man

"Politics is the art of controlling your environment."

Hunter S. Thompson

At 1/21/2014 03:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so PROUD to BE a NEIL YOUNG Fan!


At 1/21/2014 03:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so PROUD to BE a NEIL YOUNG Fan!

At 1/21/2014 06:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love Neil but I have to agree with John on this one.

Everyone knows he is a self centered calculating control freak with music second to none.

He has hit a nerve because the majority of his fan base are hard working middle class tax payers.

If he hanged out in the dive's where the winners are instead of those looser elitist bars, he would know how we have been raped up here in the name of green energy (ontario is where I live).

The problem is cunts (politicians) are running this world, they say cream rises to the top, well shit floats

sorry Neil should of stuck with the muse, its to transparent.

Now he is exploiting the aboriginal card to pump al gores quest and that behemoth car of his.

At 1/21/2014 08:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

USA USA !!! !!!

At 1/21/2014 09:15:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Well, we would say thanks for the spirited debate except that it seems folks are talking past one another.

Let's try this. There's an open letter above with some "facts".

Maybe try discussing those rather than just throwing around attacks?

Maybe start with Honor The Treaties? Are some suggesting that Canada should NOT Honor the Treaties? If so, why is it OK to violate treaties?

At 1/21/2014 09:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil Young tour: 5 facts about the First Nation he's singing for

At 1/21/2014 10:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the 5 facts what's their issue that life is not walk in the park. Here in Canada they have too many rights and privileges, then cry wolf when the government expropriates some land that helps mankind get to the next level in regards to energy.

Why doesn't he take up the cause of a generational farmer who's farm is being expropriated for military use in ontario. At least the farmer is contributing to society in a green way.

Neil the states landed on the moon first, should the Chinese be giving them compensation or getting their permission for landing there.

Wake up your thought process is old and all ego with respect to that electric car.

I know you have to get it out there because you had allot of friends help you with it, but the regular person will get hurt from the aftermath of your rhetoric. The elitist will take what your saying and pass some ridiculous cost to the ever shrinking middle class (which sorry to say you are not part of) in the name of green energy-save the world BS.

You being who you are should speak more responsibly, crooks con artist will run with them.

At 1/21/2014 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Jason Smith said...


You nailed it when you talk about "Freedom". We don't need the Neil Young telling Canadians what to do, Neil is about as Canadian as Apple Pie.

Neil pulled down his pants on stage for the three other shows but did not have the guts to do in in Calgary. In these parts we call that kind of person a "Coward".

Coward and Canadian do not belong in the same sentence, back to his ranch in California to hide and work on the album.

Eat a Peach

Jason Smith

At 1/21/2014 11:43:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Jason - Again, what about Honoring The Treaties? Are you suggesting that Canada should NOT Honor the Treaties?

If so, why is it OK to violate treaties?

Please discuss the message and not attack the messenger. That's what real cowards don't do.

At 1/21/2014 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

EH - judging someone's carbon-use in an industrial society that's 100% fueled by carbon, just because they have the tenacity to express their opinions about the environment, is IRRELEVANT. It doesn't in any way damage the legitimacy of their argument. So if you have a good argument in support of the Oil Sands, please feel free to share it - otherwise you are just using character assassination tactics to undermine the debate.

At 1/21/2014 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Pardon the character attack here, but it appears there are a lot of Canadians who have been brainwashed by the oil industry. Which is sad, because I always considered Canada highly more progressive than the U.S., which is steeped in corporate corruption.

At 1/21/2014 02:02:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

@Anonyman 10:09 am:

The analogy to the moon is a good one so let's start there.

If the Chinese, using your example, landed on the Moon demanding natural resources and land rights to areas inhabited by groups for 1,000 years, then yes, they would be considered encroaching, hoarding, greedy, and belligerent.

Canadian and American governments have a long history of self-entitlement and breaking treaties. This is the only thing that remains constant throughout our shared histories.

In many of his songs, Neil processes sorrow and abuses imposed on the First Nation and surviving indigenous cultures in America.

The real cowards are the people who are afraid of challenging their government on the issue of land rights and land abuses. The real cowards choose to live in ignorance by allowing their government to act on their behalf even when they know it's at the expense of another group of people.

At 1/21/2014 02:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think we should get back to the music. Any news on this new album that was recorded with Jack White yet? Looking forward to the official release of Pushed it Over The End on the CSNY live 1974 album.

At 1/21/2014 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Anyway, I just sat in my car and let it idle with the heat on for ten minutes while I smoked a cigarette. It's 5 degrees here at the moment.

I guess this disqualifies me from having a negative opinion of the oil sands pipeline project, or from speaking in any critical way of the oil industry in general.

At least by the logic of the folks who attack Neil's character rather than debate the actual topic at hand.

At 1/21/2014 02:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen a lot of Canadians uncomfortable with the destructive development of the tar sands start to speak up this past week. Thanks to Neil.

I don't think anyone has been brainwashed by the oil industry. Their supporters, in Alberta and Saskatchewan only care about keeping the dollars flowing into their pockets.

The truth is the tar sands are not economically viable even with all the corporate welfare paid by Canadian taxpayers to Big Oil's foreign owned companies.

At 1/21/2014 03:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The meek will inherit the earth, mother nature does not need our help. If we are smart we will get off this god forsaken planet and seed the galaxy with humans to give ourselves a fighting chance.

Steven Hawking's

This clean energy, save mother nature, aboriginal rights is all white noise.

Neil you know something about white noise,

Back to listing to "on the Beach" his best album Tonights the Night a very very close second> I did like Chrome wheels 2. no hidden Path is epic.

I got a cold wind blowing through my head

At 1/21/2014 03:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was posted on Neil's Facebook page:

My Generation
From The Passenger

The Calgary Herald editorial board member who drew the derision of other attendees at our press conference in Calgary on Sunday took muck raking to a new low. After asking her sophomoric questions about planes and carbon
footprints she took to sneaking around our buses. At that time she concluded that our engines were all running and texted that message to Sun Media News.

Sun Media News dispatched a cameraman to the scene of the crime. He too began sneaking around our buses – our home while we are on the road. I know, I was there, I talked to the fellow. When I explained that it was our generators and not our engines he understood completely. The Sun Media News Live Event truck uses that same system of generation. Ours differ notably in that they are all powered with bio-diesel. A fact I pointed out to the Sun Media News cameraman.

Those of you who have accused us of hypocrisy for flying in planes and those of you are interested in facts need to know this. Because in spite of understanding completely that it was our generators and not our engines running, Sun Media News reported that it was our engines. Why would we
possibly run our engines? We care about our vehicles way too much to do something that stupid.

Here’s my question: Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to report a story that you know is incorrect?

Some of the media outlets in Calgary have been drinking too much of the old bitumen kool aid. Demand more from these Big Oil shills. You deserve better Calgary.

The Passenger

At 1/21/2014 03:45:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

It's only castles burning...

At 1/21/2014 03:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check this out-

At 1/21/2014 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Funny you should say that, Anon 2:45 - as Thrasher just posted an article to facebook that showed a poll indicating that ~ 70% of Canadians actually side with Neil.

*PSHEW!* I'm glad to be wrong on that one! :^)

At 1/21/2014 04:57:00 PM, Blogger setlistthief said...

Thrasher, FYI

Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy issues a statement of support:

At 1/21/2014 05:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same folks that use propaganda and rhetoric to promote the tarsands now accuse Neil Young of using propaganda and rhetoric.


At 1/21/2014 05:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know, Karl Rove didn't like it when he got beat at his own game, either.

At 1/21/2014 06:24:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Dear Neil -

I believe in you
oh oh
I believe in you.....

At 1/21/2014 06:34:00 PM, Blogger Don said...

Presently and unfortunately it is impossible to exist without "burning oil" to criticise the likes of Neil Young because he uses oil is the equivalent of criticising city dwellers who give out about the smog because they continue to breath the air.....the real issue is viable alternatives and at least Neil is at the frontline there....don't take the Earth for granted!

At 1/21/2014 09:07:00 PM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

Hey there Billy-Bob Thrasher

It took a while , and thanks for showing us your true colours !

Over the years we have become very familiar with Neil's convenient " Our Canada " when it suits him .

This Canadian always questions authority , and those that pretend to know this country .

Neil will soon be out of the blue and into the black Canadian crude as he fills the tanks of his danger bird .
Flying across the waters to Europe to spread his message of peace and love .
He best know the source of his fuel so that bird doesn't land on water .

You best know your own countries treaties , before questioning ours !
I have travelled through the Dakotas and Montana , and have seen first hand how your treaties have been dealt with .
Save face and stop preaching lad .

Have ya seen the movie Dead Man ?
Great flick and inspiring soundtrack , an interesting perspective on how the American Indian was treated EH ?

At 1/21/2014 11:31:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature in the Run said...

John, It's unfortunate you have lowered your expectations for Canada based on what America has done both past and present.

Neil has higher expectations from his fellow Canadians. So do I. I think Canadians will question their government about the treaty and land abuses instead of shrugging it off because that's what America did.

The most interesting thing about "Dead Man" is that it humanizes a person playing the role of a Cree. I saw that movie at a college in Havre. It got a lot of laughs.

At 1/21/2014 11:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, the Toronto Sun was wrong about the bus engines being left running all evening, but does anyone else wonder if Neil's rebuttal focused on the one thing he could actually defend?


Negative Fan

At 1/22/2014 01:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want facts? There's more to the picture than meets the eye....

At 1/22/2014 08:36:00 AM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

I don't think people understand that environmental watchdog groups and their legal teams are going to need more than 6 million dollars to challenge an industry known for paying fines, instead of fixing the problems. Existing protections and safeguards are only effective when they are enforced. It wasn't for the environmental NFPs, no one would be challenging in courts or in government the environmental abuses and laws that are not being enforced. If it wasn't for these groups, plans for a more progressive alternative "clean" energies would have been squashed by the "dirty" oil and coal producers long ago. And it doesn't matter if you're Canadian or American or Chinese, we're all in this together. Oil and coal producers don't like it when discussions or plans about using clean and efficient alternative energies take place somewhere.

At 1/22/2014 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

It was the Calgary Herald that reported that all the buses were left running.

They were not merely "wrong" - they deliberately lied.

At 1/22/2014 12:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil said Sun media himself. Regardless, what about the paid appearance by the Chief? There's a lot that doesn't ring true here.

At 1/22/2014 06:40:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

What rings true is that a person who has the honor and distinction of being "Chief" is deserving of a honorarium. On the other hand, it doesn't surprise me to find people who think otherwise and show so much disrespect and ignorance by not recognizing this man's rank and status among his people.

At 1/22/2014 07:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sun articles linked above are the worst kind of tripe, even worse than our UK tabloid press which I hardly imagined possible. The continual suggestion that Neil (or anyone, for that matter) should keep their trap shut simply because they don't live in Canada is absurd, and the Sun's viewpoint is dangerously parochial. The Financial Post article is very compelling, however. Could it be that Neil has blundered into something very complicated about which he has a limited understanding? It wouldn't be the first time - remember the 80s? It strikes me that his political views are formed in much the same way as his artistic creations - gut feeling, little thought, all emotional response. And that's not a safe way to deal with such a charged issue. Ultimately, however, the smear tactics being used in some media, and by some contributors here, and infinitely worse than Neil's naïve rhetoric.

At 1/22/2014 08:38:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

I think it's a legitimate response for an artist to challenge the status quo and conventional thinking.

Art should shake things up. If not, we know Shakey will!

At 1/25/2014 12:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young, the Chief nor Maher have any trouble whatsoever stopping in to fuel their cars or airplanes - what an absurd parodox for them and their fans so openly criticizing the oilsands as a source they themselves tap into daily in one way or another


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