Sarah Harmer Talks the "Stop Line 9" Movement, Plots New Album

Sarah Harmer Talks the "Stop Line 9" Movement, Plots New Album
As previously reported, a contingent of great musicians are appearing at an event Sunday (October 6) dubbed "Rock the Line," a free concert in Toronto's Mel Lastman Square aimed to raise awareness about the "Stop Line 9" movement.

Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and the Sadies, Hayden, and Minotaurs are each playing short sets for the cause, which hopes to halt Calgary-based energy distributor Enbridge from successfully applying to expand its usage of Line 9 and Line 9B, which run between Sarnia and Montreal and through communities along highway 401 in Ontario.

The event was organized by Harmer with Environmental Defence, which is particularly concerned about the possible distribution of chemically treated, diluted tar sands oil (bitumen or "dilbit") through a 38-year-old pipe with a history of incidents. If there were an accident or spill, the organization argues, the results could be tragic.

"They're betting on the wrong horse here," Harmer tells Exclaim!, referring toe Enbridge's focus on tar sands oil, rather than renewable energy sources. "This is really an economic move. As they will say, 'We're not an oil company, we're a transportation company and we're just moving the stuff.' I think they're vulnerable and they're on the wrong track.

"So, 'Be a head of the curve and lead' is what I'd say to them."

As it happens, Rock the Line is happening at Mel Lastman Square, which offers commuters a firsthand view of Line 9.

"It's just a few minutes walk from the Finch Station and Line 9 is 60 centimetres or something from the opening to the subway," Harmer says. "It's ghastly to think of a rupture happening there."

Harmer's most recent album is 2010's Oh Little Fire, which followed 2005's Polaris Music Prize-nominated I'm a Mountain. The five-year gap felt long for fans but enabled Harmer to concentrate on environmental causes like PERL or Protecting Escarpment Rural Land, an organization that successfully campaigned to prohibit a gravel development that would have destroyed parts of the wilderness in the Niagara Escarpment.

And while Harmer has been intently focused on stopping Enbridge's Line 9 modification, she reveals that fans may not have to wait as long for her next release.

"I think I have a collection of enough songs to make up a new record," she explains. "I think I'm going to do something sparse but full. I just have to figure out who's going to help me do it. I'll be honest with you, I'm kind of a chicken when it comes to the studio; it's a scary zone for me a bit. But I think I'm ready and I have all the songs."

Learn more about the "Stop Line 9'" movement here and watch an informative video about the issue below.

Hear this interview with Sarah Harmer on the Kreative Kontrol with Vish Khanna podcast.