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Oil sands supporters protest Neil Young show in Calgary

Neil-Young-Calgary protesters

Protestor Merle Terlesky, left (wearing toque) talking to Neil Young associate Dave Toms. Photo: Christopher Walsh.

Oil sands supporters protest Neil Young show in Calgary
Christopher Walsh | January 19, 2014

Neil Young says concerts got Canadians talking about oil sands, which equals success

A half dozen oil sands supporters took to the street outside the Jack Singer Concert Hall Sunday night in anticipation of the Neil Young Calgary show to protest the rock legend’s comments about the Alberta oil sands that they call “lies.”

“We want Neil to know we’re here,” said Merle Terlesky outside the final Honour the Treaties show of the tour. “We’re not here to shut him down, we just want him to tell the truth.”

Terlesky and other protesters say Young’s comments surrounding the development of Alberta’s oil sands are ill-informed and don’t reflect what the oil sands means for Alberta and the rest of the country.  Neil Young came under fire last week for comparing the oil sands to Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. His four-city tour which wrapped up Sunday in Calgary was meant to raise funds for the Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation’s legal battle to hault further development of the oil sands area.

The protesters said Sunday that Neil Young has confused his message about the oil sands and First Nations’ treaties.

“I’m a proud Albertan.  I think Neil Young has a right to free speech, but he needs to tell the truth and separate the issues of the natives and the oil sands,” Terlesky said.

“It’s interesting that they say it’s not about the oil, it’s about the treaties; but all they’re doing is slamming oil,” said protest organizer Craig Chandler. “We got some people down here because we want to stop the lies and get the facts out.”

The group handed out info flyers and held signs that read, “stop the lies” and “proud of the Alberta oil patch.”

Arguments with concert-goers and Aboriginals were heated, but remained peaceful  .“We don’t want to shut anything down,” Dave Toms told the oil sands supporters. “We just want you to clean up your mess. They’ll never fix it up the way it was.”

Toms, also known as “The Passenger” on the Neil Young website promoting Young’s electric car the LincVolt, said he respected the protesters’ opinions but that he was concerned about the environmental impacts of future oil sands development.

“Throw out the oppressors,” he told Terlesky. “This is an occupied city, dude, occupied by big oil and the CAPP.”

At a press conference earlier in the day, Neil Young told reporters the Honour the Treaties tour has accomplished what it set out to do by raising well over $75,000 for the Fort Chipewyan First Nations’ legal defence fund and raising awareness about the oil sands and aboriginal rights.

read all: beaconnews.ca/calgary/2014/01/oil-sands-supporters-protest-neil-young-show-in-calgary/

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