Neil Young Slams Canadian Government over Alberta Oil Sands and the Treatment of First Nations

Neil Young Slams Canadian Government over Alberta Oil Sands and the Treatment of First Nations
Neil Young doesn't shy away from making his opinions heard, even if that means chastising an audience or alienating a city. Now, the legendary songwriter has criticized Canadian leaders for their treatment of First Nations peoples.

Speaking at Toronto's Massey Hall during a press conference on Sunday afternoon (January 12), Young discussed the struggles faced by Alberta's Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, who are battling to preserve their traditional lands in the face of oil sands development. Young is currently touring to help support their legal defence.

"We are here, we made a deal with these people, we are breaking our promise, we are killing these people," he said. "The blood of these people will be on modern Canada's hands. And it will be as a result of not just a slow thing, but a fast and horrific thing if this continues. There are many ways this could happen, and believe me these people are not going to sit back and let Canada, the modern Canada, roll over them. They're not saying it, but they're feeling it."

Young additionally reiterated his controversial statements about Fort McMurray, saying that he stood by his comment that the city resembled Hiroshima after being devastated by the atomic bomb.

"Canada is trading integrity for money," he said. "That's what happening under the current leadership in Canada, which is a very poor imitation of the George Bush administration in the United States, and it's lagging behind on the world stage. It's an embarrassment to any Canadians. So as a Canadian, I felt like I had the chance to do something by bringing this together."

Government spokesman Jason MacDonald responded to Young's comments, saying in a statement, "Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day."

However, Young has already responded with a statement of his own. He writes:

If rock stars need oil is an official response, how does that affect the treaties Mr. Harper's government of Canada is breaking?

Of course, rock stars don't need oil. I drove my electric car from California to the Tar sands and on to Washington DC without using any oil at all and I'm a rock star. My car's generator runs on biomass, one of several future fuels Canada should be developing for the Post Fossil Fuel Age. This age of renewable fuels could save our grandchildren from the ravages of Climate related disasters spawned by the Fossil Fuel Age; but we have to get started.

As to the thousands of hard working Canadians, we have respect for all working people. The quandary we face is the job they are working on. They are digging a hole that our grandchildren will have great trouble digging their way out of. By that we mean Climate Change, the result of too much CO2 in the atmosphere There are better jobs to be developing, with clean energy source industries to help make the world a safer place for our grandchildren.


The oil sands projects are among the very dirtiest on earth. Per day, the oils sands operations produce as much CO2 as all the cars in Canada. While every gallon of gasoline from the cleanest oil sources produces 19.5 LBS of CO2, Alberta oil sands derived gasoline produces up to three times as much CO2 because of the inefficient methods used, potentially bringing the total CO2 per gallon to almost 60 LBS. This oil is going not to Canada, but to China where the air quality has been measured at 30 times the levels of safety established by the World Health Organization. Is that what Canada is all about?


As a Canadian citizen, I am concerned that this government is not acting within the advice of science.


Watch footage of some of Young's press conference over at the Huffington Post.

Young played a show at Massey Hall last night (January 12). See the remaining dates on his "Honor the Treaties" tour below.

Tour dates:

01/16 Winnipeg, MB - Centennial Concert Hall *

01/17 Regina, SK - Conexus Arts Centre *

01/19 Calgary, AB - Jack Singer Concert Hall *
07/12 London, UK - Hyde Park

* with Diana Krall