BY JESSICA HUME , PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
OTTAWA – - Responding to Neil Young's anti-oilsands tour, the Prime Minister's Office says the rocker and political activist should mind his own carbon footprint before opposing projects it says present First Nations with economic opportunities unprecedented in Canada's history
"The resource sector creates economic opportunities and employs tens of thousands of Canadians in high-wage jobs, contributing to a standard of living that is envied around the world and helping fund programs and services Canadians rely on," Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman, Jason MacDonald, told QMI Agency.
"Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day," MacDonald noted.
A vocal environmentalist and critic of Canada's oilsands, Young, a longtime resident of California, partnered with First Nations groups in Alberta for his Honour the Treaties Tour, which includes four shows beginning Sunday in Toronto, then Regina, Winnipeg and Calgary. Proceeds of the sold-out concerts go toward the yet undefined legal actions by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation to fight the expansion of the Shell-owned Jackpine Mine, 70 kilometres outside Fort McMurray, Alta., approved last month by the feds.
In September, Young caused a bit of an uproar in Alberta when he said at a National Farmers Union event in Washington, D.C., “Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima.
"Fort McMurray is a wasteland,” Young said. “The fuel’s all over, the fumes everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town. The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray,” he said. “People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”
In a press conference Sunday, Young accused the Canadian government of breaking its promise to First Nations.
Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, told the CBC his community suffers high levels of cancer, lupus, skin rashes, asthma; he wants the government find out whether nearby oilsands activity is connected.
Shell says the expansion will create 750 new full-time positions plus construction jobs.
"We meet regularly with aboriginal communities to discuss projects, training and business opportunities," Shell spokesman David Williams said. "Conversations are open, regular and most often constructive."