Fort McMurrayites might have assumed the celebrity visits would stop after the city was swept first by recession, and then by wildfire.
Or when the provincial government introduced a carbon tax and started phasing out coal.
And surely, with Donald Trump in the White House, even the oiliest corner of Canada would shift to the activist back burner.
But no; here comes Jane Fonda.
“We don’t need new pipelines,” she told a Wednesday press conference at the University of Alberta where she also dismissed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “good-looking Liberal” who couldn’t be trusted.
Saying that her voice was joined with the “Indigenous people of Canada,” Fonda explained her trip to Alberta by saying “when you’re famous you can help amplify the voices of people that can’t necessarily get a lot of press people to come out.”
Jane Fonda speaks as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam looks on during a press conference for indigenous rights in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.
Fonda is in Alberta at the invitation of Greenpeace, which has brought her here in support of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion — a group of Canadian First Nations and U.S. tribes opposed to new pipelines to the Athabasca oilsands.
Appearing alongside Fonda, at a table with a sign reading “Respect Indigenous Decisions,” was Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who, as leader of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, has led anti-pipeline protests and litigation in British Columbia.
“The future is going to be incredibly litigious,” he said in reference to the approved expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The event also included Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, which is leading a legal challenge to federal approval of the Line 3 pipeline.
Although much of Athabasca’s oil production now comes from “steam-assisted gravity drainage” projects that requires minimal surface disturbance, on Tuesday Fonda took the requisite helicopter tour of a Fort McMurray-area open pit mine.
Later, she told news cameras that it looked like someone “took my skin and peeled it off my body.”
Shell Albian Sands’ Jackpine Mine pit #10, which may resemble Jane Fonda’s flayed body.
These celebrity drop-ins tend to bring out the worst in Alberta: Social media lynch mobs. Strangers screaming “go back to California!” at the airport. Outraged citizens trying to find some sort of contemporary Fonda product to boycott.
Just as it was with Neil Young and Leonardo DiCaprio, long after Fonda has forgotten whether she travelled to Edmonton or Calgary, her name will live on as an Enemy of Alberta.
Meanwhile, calmer voices took turns poking holes in Fonda’s image of a Northern Alberta gripped by a greedy, heartless Earth-destroying oil conspiracy.
Wildrose leader Brian Jean, a Fort McMurrayite himself, tweeted out images of Fonda’s hometown of Los Angeles shrouded in smog.
Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney noted on Twitter that Fonda’s Beverly Hills home sits directly atop an active oil field producing “dirtier” oil than much of Athabasca.
Alberta’s NDP government, for its part, offered to walk both Greenpeace and Fonda through its Climate Leadership Plan, but organizers appear to have declined.
Robbie Picard, who founded Alberta’s I Love Oil Sands campaign, happened to run into Fonda at a Fort McMurray Moxie’s and asked her if she knew the full extent of Aboriginal employment and investment in the oilsands. According to Picard, she was quickly shuffled off by handlers.
“Greenpeace does not want these pipelines to be built, so they’ve got Jane Fonda to come up here, they act like they represent all Aboriginals and they don’t,” said Picard.
Because of the oilsands, he said, “there are Aboriginal people here that have more money than Jane Fonda.”
Just last month, Jim Boucher, chief of Northern Alberta’s Fort McKay First Nation, caused a rift with other members of the Assembly of First Nations when he said that his nation was “pro oilsands.”
“If it wasn’t for the oilsands, my people would be in poverty right now,” he said.
The only Albertan Indigenous leader sharing the stage with Fonda on Monday was Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Adam has consistently been one of the most vocal critics of oilsands development; both Fonda and Neil Young came to Alberta at his invitation. On Monday, the chief said that elevated cancer rates in his community are due to oilsands pollution — a claim that an Alberta Health Services probe has disputed.
“I feel very ashamed to call myself an Albertan … because of what is continuing to happen upstream that is affecting our people back home,” he told Monday’s press conference.
Meanwhile, Adam also heads up a nation that operates oilsands contracting businesses and accepts oil-industry money for community programs. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has boasted that this frees them from the need to accept federal money.
Fonda stressed her love for the Alberta workers who “go where the money is to feed their families,” and reassured them that they could all find new work in alternative energy.
“We’re not saying it’s going to be overnight; it has to be planned, it has to be compassionate, it has to take into account the workers and their families,” she said.
Therein lies Alberta’s main beef with these types of things. As Fonda’s extremely carbon-intensive trip to Canada should have made obvious, the world is still buying 14 billion litres of oil every day.
Setting aside treaty rights and the politics of pipeline placement, if it isn’t Alberta fuelling that oil demand, goes the argument, it’s likely going to come from a place where Jane Fonda visits aren’t as easily arranged.
To a reporter’s question of whether Alberta has social licence to continue developing oil because the government has drafted legislation to dis-incentivize its own carbon emissions, Fonda replied “that’s ridiculous.”
This article was sourced from http://newsinmarathi.com