Neil Young’s misguided assault on Alberta oil sands doing a disservice to natives – by Peter Foster (National Post – January 13, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The first performance by environmental supergroup Suzuki Weaver and Young — at Massey Hall in Toronto on Sunday afternoon — was more entertaining, and thought-provoking, than anticipated.

The venue was to hold a concert by rock legend Neil Young in the evening as part of his four-city Canadian “Honour The Treaties” tour. All proceeds are to go to a legal fund for the people of Fort Chipewyan, which is 220 kilometers north of Fort McMurray. Mr. Young is hardly the first celebrity to join the pack assault on the oil sands, and to pick the downstream community of Fort Chipewyan as a focal point, although he seems to have been the first to suggest that the development looks like Hiroshima. On Sunday he opined that such a comparison was “mellow.”

His backup group of David Suzuki, as “moderator,” and climate modeller turned Green party BC MLA Andrew Weaver were there to amplify Mr. Young’s castigation of greed, corporations and the Harper government. But the pregnant question raised by the conference was the extent to which native people might be more victimized by their “friends” than their alleged enemies.

The afternoon’s standout performance came from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) chief Allan Adam, a tough-looking but earnest man who, while obviously frustrated, revealed the complexities of his situation. Chief Adam was a model of credibility on a stage full of posturing by those who seemed more intent on using the problems of Fort Chipewyan than solving them. (To make clear who the real villains were, the stage had three empty chairs bearing the names of Leona Aglukkaq, Joe Oliver and Bernard Valcourt, respectively the federal ministers of the environment, natural resources and aboriginal affairs.)

Chief Adam suggested — according to script — that oil sands development was like a “runaway train,” but he also acknowledged that his mandate, when he took over as chief six years ago, was to “cash in” on the oil sands boom. He said that his life became a good deal more complicated due to a health study that claimed to find alarmingly elevated cancer levels among his people. While he did not elaborate on the study and its aftermath, it is in fact central to the enormous pressure that has been put on Fort Chip by environmental activists since.

The study to which Chief Adam referred was done by a physician named John O’Connor, who was subsequently sanctioned by the provincial College of Physicians for inaccuracies. The study’s conclusions were also refuted by an expert panel from the Royal Society of Canada, which suggested that anxiety was being caused in Fort Chip by environmental alarmism.

That alarmism had been cranked up further by two studies co-authored by David Schindler, which indicated elevated levels of some toxic compounds in spring runoff around the oil sands. The studies didn’t say that the levels were dangerous, but they were peddled around the world as evidence that those downstream of the oil sands were being recklessly endangered.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/01/12/neil-youngs-misguided-assault-on-alberta-oil-sands/

Comments are closed.