CALGARY – Rock legend Neil Young’s Honour the Treaties concert tour wraps up tonight in the province with the most at stake in the debate over the economic and environmental effects of oilsands development.
The show, which supports the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation located downstream from the oilsands, takes place in Calgary.
It follows stops earlier this week in Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina where Young dropped statements about the oilsands that many denounced as over-the top.
Young has repeated claims that the oilsands mining projects near Fort McMurray resemble the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945.
He also claimed during the past week that bitumen transported on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas would end up in China.
Young’s Hiroshima claim prompted some Twitter users in the Fort McMurray area to post pictures of natural scenes of rivers, lakes and forests under the hashtag #myhiroshima.
Many of the photos are accompanied by comments such as, “The ‘wasteland’ behind my house,” or, “Dog sledding through nuclear wasteland,” and are clearly meant to highlight the discrepancy between the rock star’s portrayal of their home and what they say is the reality outside their doors.
“I just turned your CDs into landfill. So disappointed,” tweeted Terri Windover to Young’s official Twitter account.
Catherine Swift, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, posted in #myhiroshima that Young was the “Jenny McCarthy” of the “anti-economic success anti-well-paying jobs movement.”
McCarthy, a former model/actress, vehemently claims childhood vaccinations cause autism and other disabilities, despite those claims having been disproven by rigorous scientific research.
“Keep on rockin in the dumb world,” Swift tweeted.
TransCanada (TSX:TRP), the company proposing to build the Keystone XL pipeline, has countered that the pipeline would be a conduit for U.S. refineries.
Jim Cuddy from the Canadian band Blue Rodeo called Young’s comparison of the oilsands with Hiroshima extreme.
Still, Cuddy suggested that Young has triggered a national discussion about the oilsands that is long overdue.
Young remained unbowed throughout the week, and warned on Thursday that Alberta could end up looking “like the moon” if land isn’t preserved.
“It is like a war zone, a disaster area from war, what’s happened up there,” Young told a news conference ahead of his Winnipeg concert.