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my car: chantal kreviazuk

Chantal Kreviazuk and her Nissan Leaf.Joan Maida

  • The car: Nissan Leaf
  • Profession: Singer-songwriter
  • Age: 37
  • Hometown: Winnipeg Notable achievements Her single, Leaving on a Jet Plane, was on the soundtrack to the movie Armageddon
  • Won Juno awards in 2000 for Best Pop Album and Best Female Artist
  • Supports various causes and charities including War Child Canada, Canadian Mental Health Association and Polar Bears International Upcoming Releasing new album on May 29 called In This Life, a collection of live songs performed with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra along with a live concert film of the same name

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She soared to the top of the music charts with her first album, Under These Rocks and Stones, in 1997.

Juno-award winning musician and songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk is still going strong and it's not just on the music front. Kreviazuk and her husband Raine Maida, lead singer for Our Lady Peace, just won the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award for their charitable work.

Kreviazuk is an activist at heart, even when it comes to her car. She drives a 2011 Nissan Leaf all-electric hatchback.

Why did you buy a Leaf?

I was excited when I got into the car. It's really who I am. I'm very green conscious and so is our family.

I'm an activist for the environment. I go up north every single year to help with assessments and doing work for [Polar Bears International]to show the effects of emissions on our environment and how they're affecting the ice and the length of time bears have to wait for the ice.

I'm very passionate. I come from Manitoba and was raised in nature. I'm a nature-oriented person and it pains me what is happening to our environment

I'm so into recycling and finding innovative ways to use. The car is a green icon in that 99.9 per cent of the car is recyclable, including the battery. The way they're reusing the battery is super cool because the battery is divided – it's not a massive single battery. It's 600 pounds of battery that's divided. So at the end of the life of the battery, which I think is nine years, they can give them to power plants and they can still use that battery. It's still viable.

And the car itself is made from recyclable material – the seats are made of recycled plastic water bottles. My kids are excited – they're yelling out the window, "My mom is driving an electric car!"

But some people aren't sold on all-electric vehicles – what do you say to them?

Driving it around has been a psychological and emotional experience. I've had to put some tolerance into practice.

Quite frankly, people are ignorant. I hate to say that. But I have one girlfriend she'll go, "I don't even understand that." I'm like, "What part don't you understand? You have kids. I'm helping your kids right now and you don't understand."

People turn their nose up to anything that seems like an inconvenience, but the reality is you're the fools spending money on gas, not me.

The Leaf looks like a Versa – do you think it should stand out more on the road?

That's probably been part of the problem. I think that's why it didn't take because electric cars always look like a nerdy, weird car. I don't think most people are comfortable with that.

If you want, you can have it that way. Mine says "Zero Emissions" on it. I look like a geek and I don't care. If it had weird antenna coming out of it I'd be fine with that. I want to show my pride.

How much does it cost to run?

It costs $2.40 to fill up – per kilometre it's a penny and a half. If I've fully charged it, I usually get about 163 kilometres.

If you went around your house and started unplugging the things you have on all the time that you shouldn't, that costs way more electricity than the car.

Do you ever get range anxiety driving it?

It's strange the psychology of that and what goes through your mind.

For me, when I have the anxiety, I go, "Oh God." I feel so alive instead of being scared of it.

It's the same thing I do when I go on stage for 10,000 people. I feel really alive right now.

What was your first car?

My very first car was a Plymouth Horizon.

I was really excited when my dad told me I was getting a car to go to and from school. But then I saw the colour of it and was not happy. It was just horrible – I equated it to a shimmery puke colour.

It was one of those humbling university-age things. It was good for building my character. I had a phenomenal stereo in it. I had a lot of fun in that car.

When I got a record deal and started to really work, I bought myself a Bimmer, a brand new 5-Series. That was lot of fun.

Raine had a Nissan Pathfinder forever – the first night I met him he drove me home in the Pathfinder.

Then I got a Lexus hybrid. We've always had our truck – a GM truck for 13 years. I feel horrible having the Yukon, but I only take it for driving the dogs when I go and run them in the field or the mountain. That's a small amount. It's a great truck.

I have this philosophy – you don't need a new car all of the time. I'm proud we've had the same vehicle for as long as we've had. Someday, I hope there's a truck that's electric, too. Until there is, I'm going to drive it once in a while – that's just a reality.

What do you listen to on the road?

I personally love not listening to hit radio. I love listening to more period radio like the '40s or '50s, symphony orchestra, or jazz.

What's your best and worst driving memory?

Me driving a McLaren like a son-of-a-gun. It was insane! For the Sick Kids Car Rally this past year, I drove the prototype McLaren and I drove the shit out of it. I probably could have been a female race car driver. I'm into that. I had the engineer of the vehicle from Britain behind me, trying to keep up with me. I like fast. I go into that mode.

I was in an accident – some guy hit me head-on in Italy. He had just gotten a ticket from a cop on foot because the light had burned out on his motorcycle and the cop said you can't drive around at night like that. You have to walk your bike home. The guy said, "No. I'm not walking my bike home. I live up in the mountain." He grabbed the ticket from the cop and hit me about 15 seconds later.

I was about 19 at the time. I was in intensive care in an Italian hospital for about five weeks. My whole face had to be rebuilt because I had a lot of metal in it for a long time. I broke my femur and I almost died. It was awful.

If I can bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?

The Nissan Leaf. I'm a little less about thrills. I'm proud of it. I love the feeling that I'm actually making change. Those are things that drive me – pardon the pun.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com