This November, environmentalist David Suzuki will share a Vancouver stage with singer-songwriter Neil Young.
The Toronto-born Young is among nearly two dozen high-profile Canadian artists, musicians, and writers who are participating in Suzuki’s cross-Canada Blue Dot Tour. Shows are scheduled in all 10 provinces, beginning on September 24 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and culminating on November 9 at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver.
In addition to Young, the Vancouver event will feature musicians Feist, Grimes, Raffi, and Raine Maida, as well as spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan and visual artist Robert Bateman. In other cities, author Margaret Atwood, humanitarian Stephen Lewis, and musicians Emily Haines, the Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn, and Jim Cuddy have confirmed they’ll appear.
“This is a coming-together of people from all across Canada who are standing in this one common cause,” Michiah Prull, director of communications and public engagement for the David Suzuki Foundation, told the Georgia Straight by phone. “That is, we all have this basic fundamental right to the bare necessities of a life of dignity and health. Our right to healthy water, our right to fresh air, our right to food: that’s what this is all about.”
Prull said that the Blue Dot Tour comes from the idea that humanity exists on a fragile and limited blue dot in space. He added that Suzuki is volunteering his time on this project and any proceeds will go to the foundation bearing his name.
“He says this is the most important thing he’s ever done,” Prull stated. “He reached out to people he’s known all his life and has pulled together this unprecedented coalition and collaboration of leaders and icons all across Canada.”
Young has emerged as one of Canada’s foremost critics of the Alberta oil industry. At a news conference in Toronto in January, he compared the environmental effects of tarsands projects to the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
“The amount of CO2 coming out of the tarsands industrial sites is equal to every car in Canada every day,” Young said at the time. “It’s like two cars on the road for every one. That’s what’s happening there. That’s not the way to end global warming.”
Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, responded that Young’s comments were “irresponsible”, “inflammatory”, and “a disservice to Canadians”.
At the time, Young also called the federal government under Stephen Harper “an embarrassment to many Canadians” and “a very poor imitation of the George Bush administration in the United States”. In addition, Young claimed that the federal government was “out of control”, ignoring the research of scientists about climate change.
The Vancouver show will take place six days before the civic election on November 15.
Vision Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson has staked his reelection on opposition to more oil tankers in Burrard Inlet.
Kinder Morgan has applied to twin its pipeline from Alberta to B.C., which would triple shipments of diluted bitumen. According to its critics, if the company’s application is approved, this would result in up to 400 oil tankers sailing through Burrard Inlet each year.