We don’t really know what upsets big oil supporters more. Is it the fact that a major celebrity from their own generation is criticizing the damn-the-torpedoes Harper government on its oil extraction policies, or that he is supporting Native Treaty Rights? Both top the list of a Conservative’s most feared enemies.
Neil Young kicked off his four stop, “Honour the Treaties” tour in support of Alberta’s Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s legal battle against the Jackpines tar sands project specific. But it is also against the headlong plunge into a toxic abyss that he and many others, including David Suzuki, believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper is taking Canada on.
The scene was set in front of Massey Hall in downtown Toronto before the concert began with a round dance. Hundreds of Onkwehon:we people and non-Native supporters drummed, danced and sang for the healing of the Earth.
The negative reaction from the right wing was expected and didn’t disappoint in its ludicrous, money-above-all rhetoric demonizing Young for using his celebrity for political purposes.
So what? That is exactly what made Neil Young a star and what has brought him four decades of new fans since his song “Ohio” brought the anti-Vietnam War protests into the mainstream.
Many of these same corporate puppets today were singing “Southern Man” right along with Young, the human rights visionary, in the 60’s, and “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” in the 70’s. But now that he dares to speak out against Harper’s sacred cow, he is a subversive, an anarchist, a terrorist or simply a senile old man trying to recapture his youth.
No, Young hasn’t changed one little bit, which is why he can still be believe when he speaks out against things that are wrong in this world rather than writing formula do-wa-diddy pop songs to keep him on the top 40.
That’s why bands and artists including Dianna Krall, who weren’t even born when Young first started raging against the machine, consider him a contemporary and a folk hero.
In his almost 50 years of powerful songwriting, Young has never shied away from controversy – but not controversy just for the sake of controversy. Young is a deeply spiritual man with the heart of a prophet, who has pointed the way to the future for nearly three generations of young people.
The PMO released a statement before Young’s concert tour designed to marginalize his message.
“Even the lifestyle of a rock star relies, to some degree, on the resources developed by thousands of hard-working Canadians every day,” stated Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald.
As usual, Young couldn’t let the PM’s office have the last say on the matter. He responded as anyone who has known Young as a person or even as a fan would have expected.
“If rock stars need oil is an official response, how does that affect the treaties Mr. Harper’s government of Canada is breaking?” Young responded in his own media release.
”Of course, rock stars don’t need oil. I drove my electric car from California to the tar sands and on to Washington DC without using any oil at all and I’m a rock star. My car’s generator runs on biomass, one of several future fuels Canada should be developing for the Post Fossil Fuel Age. This age of renewable fuels could save our grandchildren from the ravages of climate related disasters spawned by the Fossil Fuel Age; but we have to get started.”
To those who have not considered Neil Young as one of Canada’s most influential citizens and outspoken ally of First Nations from coast to coast, just watch how Harper and his big oil cronies are now putting so much effort into marginalizing his message, that they wind up dancing to his tune despite themselves.