Published Jan 28, 2011A number of Canadian artists and musicians have spoken out against oil giant Enbridge's sponsorship of the upcoming Prairie Scene! Festival in Ottawa, calling for the National Arts Centre to reconsider partnering with the company for the event.
Earlier this week (January 25), Prairie Artists Against Enbridge (a collective that includes Propagandhi, the Weakerthans, Greg MacPherson and former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Troy Westwood) sent out a letter protesting Enbridge's involvement in the festival, citing the company's "disastrous environmental record."
Prairie Scene! is the largest gathering of Manitoba and Saskatchewan artists outside of the Prairies, with this year's event taking place in Ottawa from April 26 to May 8.
The letter points to a July 26, 2010 incident involving a pipeline burst, spilling one-million gallons of oil along Michigan's Kalamazoo River and posing a threat to nearby Lake Michigan. The letter claims that Enbridge took several hours to address the situation before starting its cleanup.
"Cleanup crews are still working hard to save Canada geese, muskrats and other wildlife poisoned by the spill," the statement explains. "The preventable disaster may be the worst oil spill in U.S. Midwest history."
The group also opposes a proposed 1,200 kilometre pipeline that would carry crude oil from Edmonton to Kitimat, BC. The pipeline project -- also opposed by a number of aboriginal communities and businesses along the pipeline's proposed route -- would "put Canada's most sensitive wild salmon rivers at risk."
With that in mind, the members of Prairie Artists Against Enbridge believe that the ideals of Enbridge don't mesh with the National Arts Centre's values as an innovator in community programming. To link up with the oil company for the festival would "tarnish" its image.
You can check out Prairie Artists Against Enbridge's full letter on Propagandhi's blog here.