Alberta Oil Sands: Seeing is Disbelieving
Recently, Neil Young’s Honour the Treaties tour brought the ongoing operations at the Alberta oil sands back into the public eye. For better or for worse, Mr. Young’s comments have ignited a debate around the oil sands that I feel really needs to happen in our country.
Mr. Young’s critics will attack his primary residency (he spends most of his days in the US), his lifestyle (a rock star is not exactly a scientific authority) and some of the more asinine comments he made (how many times do I have to hear his comparison to Hiroshima repeated?), but they ignore a few of the more important aspects behind these critiques.
While it’s true Mr. Young doesn’t live in Canada any more, he still feels a connection to this land. That’s like telling me I should have no concern for my hometown because I left. Well, maybe I want to move back there some day, maybe I still have people I care about living there, and maybe I just want to see the place succeed because I feel an emotional attachment to it. So that point is moot.
People will say Mr. Young doesn’t have the authority or the scientific background to speak authoritatively about the oil sands. That might be true, but in a country where those who do have that background and expertise are increasingly being silenced because what their expertise is telling them is that we’re headed in the wrong direction, someone has to speak out.
People will also attack Mr. Young’s lifestyle, saying that a wealthy rocker has no right to tell hard-working Canadians what to think. Well, that’s a fair point, or at least it would be if our federal government wasn’t spending millions of our tax dollars every year to promote oil sands oil both at home and abroad.
Like it or not, celebrities are the only ones with the media clout and the resources to bring the other side of the argument to light in a country where the scientific community is being muzzled and where intelligent debate on this topic is increasingly being silenced.
But all these points aside, the past couple of weeks has brought to light the alarming fact that very few Canadians know what the oil sands are really like. And by that I mean that a very small number of people have actually been there, and have seen them up close and personal.
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