Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Business Briefing

The Neil and the Damage Done (and other twisted lyrics for Albertans angry at Neil Young) Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, Sept. 10., 2013.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

Twisted lyrics
Neil Young's comments on the oil sands and Fort McMurray, and the tremendous reaction to the rocker's statements, got me scrolling through his discography this afternoon, looking to bring a little humour to Albertans with some twisted lyrics.

To recap, Mr. Young waded into the controversy over the oil sands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline yesterday at an event in Washington.

He described Fort McMurray as a "wasteland" and warned of the health impact from the developments.

Mr. Young's comments obviously drew reaction, including from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who said he's a "big fan" of the singer - so am I, by the way- but disagrees with his views on the proposed pipeline that would carry Alberta oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

So here's my alternate version of Mr. Young's respected works:

Side 1

1. Keep On Rockin’ In The Fossil-Free World (stolen from someone else’s tweet)

2. Don’t Let It Bring You Down, Alberta

3. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. But If You Live In Fort McMurray, You Make A Lot Of Money

4. The Neil And The Damage Done (from my colleague Jeffrey Jones)

5. Down By The River, I Broke My Pipeline

6. On The Beach, BP Spilled A Bundle

7. Cowgirl In The Oil Sands

8. Farmer John, I Didn’t Mean to Do That To Your Field

Side 2

1. The Old Laughing Lady (Hey, Alison Redford is not old)

2. Helpless To Do Anything About It

3. After The Gold Rush, There’s Always Bitumen

4. A Man Needs A Maid, To Clean Up The Spill

5. Time Fades Away. But, Damn, It’s Hard To Get An Oil Spot Out Of Your Clothes

6. The Emperor Of Wyoming (because the shale fields of North Dakota are too far away)

7. Long May You Run: Ode To Keystone XL

What he said
Mr. Young, one of Canada’s best-known singer-songwriters since the 1960s, told an event in Washington yesterday that he recently travelled to Alberta, where “much of the oil comes from, much of the oil that we’re using here, which they call ethical oil because it’s not from Saudi Arabia or some country that may be at war with us.”

He was at a National Farmers Union event on Capitol Hill meant to support alternative fuels, such as ethanol, which he did at length, slamming Big Oil and talking about his own LincVolt, an old Continental that runs on ethanol and electricity.

Here’s what he said about the oil sands:

“The fact is, Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima. Fort McMurray is a wasteland. The Indians up there and the native peoples are dying. The fuels all over – the fumes everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town. The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”

Mr. Young’s comments didn’t sit well with Fort McMurray officials, The Globe and Mail’s Kelly Cryderman reports.

Melissa Blake, the mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, said she takes no issue with people who have environmental interests, but Mr. Young’s comments are “blatantly false” and she wished there was “more rationality” to his statements.

"When people say it's a wasteland, it really and truly isn't," Ms. Blake said. "When it comes to the community of Fort McMurray, you're overwhelmed frankly by the beauty of it. You've got an incredible boreal environment that's all around you. You proceed further north into the oil sands and inevitably, there's mining operations that will draw your attention because they take up large chunks of land."

BlackBerry dips
Shares of BlackBerry Ltd. slipped today, partly reversing yesterday’s run-up as major Canadian pension funds cool to the idea of joining a buyout.

The stock was down by about 5 per cent by mid-afternoon.

The shares surged yesterday on a British report that Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. was trying to bring the funds on board to take a run at the smartphone maker.

Which is true. But, as The Globe and Mail’s Jacquie McNish reports, the major players aren’t on board given questions about BlackBerry’s financial future.

But at the same time, Fairfax is also talking to possible buyers for its 9.9-per-cent interest in BlackBerry.

Once the king of the smartphone world, BlackBerry is now in the midst of an auction for all or part of the Canadian company.

Mr. Watsa resigned from its board when it was put up for sale because of a potential conflict, given his interest in a buyout.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, for one, also has other things on its mind, notably yesterday's $6-billion (U.S.) deal for Neiman Marcus Group in partnership with Ares Management.

New iPhones unveiled
Apple Inc. Today unveiled two new iPhone models, one on the lower end of the scale that will sell for as cheap as $99 (U.S.).

Those lower-end devices - the iPhone 5C - are aimed at emerging markets.

Apple also plans a new version of its operating system later this month, The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports.

TransCanada on Energy East
The proposed $12-billion Energy East pipeline project will create an average of 2,000 full-time jobs during its five-year construction phase, TransCanada Corp. said today in releasing a new report.

As part of an effort to win support for the project, TransCanada commissioned a report from Deloitte & Touche LLP on the economic benefits, The Globe and Mail's Shawn McCarthy reports.

The study said the project would generate $10-billion in additional economic output during the five-year construction phase, and $25.3-billion during its 40-year operation phase.

Housing starts dip
Construction starts in Canada dipped in August, largely because of condo development.

Housing starts fell to an annual pace of 180,291 from July’s 193,021, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said today.

Construction in cities fell by 5.8 per cent, primarily “reflecting a decline in the multiple starts segments,” the federal agency reported.

Construction of multiple units, such as condos and apartments, fell by 8.4 per cent.

“August’s reading was the lowest since a 176,000 print back in April and leaves the level running close to the level of underlying household formation,” said Peter Buchanan of CIBC World Markets.

“Although today’s report and yesterday’s permits data suggest housing is holding up fairly well, we expect higher mortgage costs, buyer fatigue and recent policy changes to contribute to a more appreciably slowing in the months ahead.”

Streetwise (for subscribers)

Economy Lab

ROB Insight (for subscribers)

Business ticker

Follow on Twitter: @michaelbabad

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular