Neil Young Reiterates Criticism Of Harper Government, Oilsands With New Statement

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TORONTO - Neil Young reaffirmed his criticism of the Harper government and the Alberta oilsands on Monday, responding to a statement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's spokesman with a point-by-point refutation.

On Sunday, Young held a press conference in Toronto during which he compared a Fort McMurray industrial site he'd visited to the atomic-bomb devastation of Hiroshima, Japan, and said that he was "embarrassed" by a Canadian government that was "trading integrity for money."

Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald countered in a statement that the natural resources sector was a "fundamental part of our country's economy."

MacDonald continued that "the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day."

In a statement Monday, Young replied that his issue was with the government "breaking treaties with the First Nation and plundering the natural resources the First Nation has rights to under the treaties."

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The 68-year-old also added that "rock stars don't need oil" and pointed out that he drove his electric car from California to the oilsands and on to Washington "without using any oil at all."

"And I'm a rock star," continued the Toronto-born guitarist. "My car's generator runs on biomass, one of several future fuels Canada should be developing for the post-fossil fuel age."

"As to the thousands of hard-working Canadians," he added, "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. ... There are better jobs to be developing, with clean energy source industries to help make the world a safer place for our grandchildren."

Young is in the midst of a four-date tour benefitting the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Fund, with shows still to come in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary after his Toronto debut.

His statement included specific allegations of the toxic environmental effects of the oilsands, while also pointing out that the "oil is not going 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?" he asked. "As a Canadian citizen, I am concerned that this government is not acting within the advice of science."

Young closed by responding to another of MacDonald's statements, in which he pledged that the government "recognizes the importance of developing resources responsibly and sustainably and we will continue to ensure that Canada's environmental laws and regulations are rigorous."

"When people say one thing and do another, it is hypocrisy," Young replied.

"Our Canadian environmental laws don't matter if they are broken."

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