rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

A few thoughts on tar sands, Neil Young and government officials

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

You can change the conversation. Chip in to rabble's donation drive today!

Neil Young's support of the Athabaskan Chipewyan's fundraising efforts towards their tar sand court case gained a truckload of press attention the other week. Every national and daily paper reaped the benefits of a hot topic and it ignited a national conversation about energy resources in Canada. I’m grateful for that. Not just to Neil though.

The press seemed to miss that the leaders of the debate are the Athabaskan Chipewyan people and countless other First Nations that are launching court cases to protect our land and drinking water for all of us.

Neil was just lending a helping hand.

Personal Beef Content Warning: (Why is it that celebs get flack for supporting causes, but no one is freaking out about China's reach into Canada with the China-Canada trade deal, FIPPA, that gives China the right to sue Canada if citizen interests are put ahead of corporate profits? Yes, this has happened with NAFTA. China is already investing in ownership of the tar sands and all those jobs for hardworking Alberta people could easily disappear to a lower cost Chinese labour force. And it's a small Van Island First Nations band going to court to halt FIPPA. We should be slick with oil money by now and have free University and no provincial debt. Like Norway.)

Back to Neil. 

Canadians love celebrities just like any American. But gosh darn it, they can't be telling us maple leaf waving Canucks what to do. If we don't want to be creative and research and promote alternative energy sources and protect our groundwater, but want to dig a huge pit that can be seen from the moon and suck up every last bit of oil and gas across the Great White North and send it to China, ignore science data about climate change and turn deaf ears to those pesky ignorant Indians always bitching about land claims and contaminated water, that's our Canadian right.

Neil isn't qualified to speak his mind.

Wait a minute. What? Our politicians often aren't qualified either? Really? I thought they'd have to have a University degree and work experience to represent the Ministry that they are assigned to work in, like a Regular Job.

Keep on Balking In the Free World...


From The Passenger (not Neil Young) on Neil Young's Facebook Page

Today’s topic is credibility. Something government officials at both the provincial and federal levels have been wielding like a weapon over the past week or so. Their rationale is this: musicians and celebrities should stick to what they know -- music and entertainment. The Driver, they say, is not qualified to speak on the environmental catastrophe they are so invested in. That’s what they say.

Let’s do a little role call of some of the people that Stephen Harper’s government feels are qualified to speak on the topic. People who, by virtue of being elected to public positions, have apparently become instant experts in a variety of topics.

Joe Oliver: Minister Of Natural Resources. The man who stated proudly that at least Alberta oil is cleaner (somewhat) than coal. Joe was an investment banker. He earned an MBA and scurried straight into the wonderful world of high finance. There is no evidence of any studies or experience in the world of natural resources on Joe’s resume.

Leona Aglukkak: Minister Of The Environment. She’s a career politician with no record of environmental studies or any studies for that matter at the post secondary level.

Peter Kent: former Minister Of The Environment. Peter was at the controls for the disembowelment of Canada’s Environmental regulatory systems. He was a tv news anchorman for Global News. His post secondary record is unknown He did not, it appears, undertake any environmental studies before he became the Minister responsible for that portfolio.

Stephen Harper: Prime Minister. He is a University of Toronto dropout who worked in the mailroom at Imperial Oil before becoming a founding member of the extreme right wing Reform Party. He received a Masters degree in economics from the University Of Calgary and later helped write the right wing manifesto, The Alberta Agenda. But he didn’t study the environment and he didn’t study Native affairs. However he might have taken piano lessons and he does play in a band called Herringbone. We will defend, to our last breath, his right to do so. Music heals.

Check it out here.


The Passenger

When not working as Managing Editor for the Watershed Sentinel, western Canada's environmental news magazine, Susan MacVittie often rocks out to Neil Young and Crazy Horse on Vancouver Island, BC.

The piece originally appeared on Watershed Sentinel and is reprinted with permission.

Photo: Honour the Treaties

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.