VANCOUVER — Music icon Neil Young has declared that "Canada is back" now that a Liberal government has taken charge in Ottawa.
"I'm very happy,'' said the 70-year-old Canadian who has lived in California for years.
The singer-songwriter was in Vancouver on Monday to debut his high-resolution audio player and online store, under the PonoMusic brand, in Canada.
Young said he's received many emails and phone calls from Canadian friends revelling in the new government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Obviously people are delighted with the change that has taken place. It's very positive news."
He wished the newly minted cabinet well on the same day provincial premiers were meeting in Ottawa to discuss a national strategy on climate change, an issue he has also championed.
He said he's hopeful officials will take different action than the former Conservative government, but then said corporations have more money and power than governments.
"So really, it's up to the people to take the situation into their own hands," he said, explaining that consumers have buying power and can change the world through their habits.
"The politicians really don't have the power to change the world."
Young has been a long-time environmental crusader and stirred controversy last year when he used his celebrity status to amplify opposition to Alberta's oilsands.
He held a cross-country tour to get Canadians talking about First Nation treaty and environmental issues. Young later partnered with environmentalist David Suzuki and spoke out against oil pipelines.
Young reflected with optimism on Alberta's new carbon tax introduced by Premier Rachel Notley. On Sunday, Notley announced the province will also phase out coal-fired power plans and cap emissions from the oil sands.
"The carbon tax is capitalism working,'' Young said, heralding it as a mechanism for slowing down the release of carbon into the atmosphere.
"Anything that does that is a good thing."
The tax is also a good test for the public to see if the government has enough strength and sway to overcome the corporations he believes controls them, he added.
Young launched the PonoPlayer in the U.S. in March 2014.
He said he doesn't care if the product is a "gigantic, fast-moving, super-success," instead, his goal is to generate a resurgence in high-quality music.
"The whole mission of this is a labour of love, and we've been banging against a lot of walls with this,'' he said. "But we're persisting because we have something that is going to endure. Music deserves to be preserved.''
Zeke Young, Neil's 43-year-old son, who also works for PonoMusic, said he sees no signs that his father is slowing down as a musician, businessman or activist.
"Nope,'' he chuckled. "He just doesn't stop"
The junior Young said his father's influence extends beyond his fans.
"He has a passion for trying to do better things for the planet and for families,'' he said. "That's what keeps him going. And of course, music."
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