Skip to main content

Alberta Jane Fonda says Trudeau betrayed hopes for climate action

Jane Fonda speaks as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam looks on during a news conference for indigenous rights in Edmonton, Alta., on Jan. 11, 2017.

JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS

As far as Jane Fonda is concerned, there's only one lesson to be drawn from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent approval of two oilsands pipeline projects.

"The lesson is we shouldn't be fooled by good-looking Liberals," the Hollywood icon said Wednesday in Edmonton, where she appeared to support indigenous leaders in their concerns over fossil fuel development.

Fonda — as well as chiefs from Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia — said environmentalists everywhere were impressed by Trudeau's appearance at international climate talks held in Paris in late 2015.

Story continues below advertisement

"We all thought, well, cool guy," she said. "What a disappointment.

"He talked so beautifully of needing to meet the requirements of the climate treaty and to respect and hold to the treaties with indigenous people. Such a heroic stance he took there, and yet he has betrayed every one of the things he committed to in Paris."

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said he felt the same letdown.

"He talked about the need to listen to indigenous people. I believed him."

Last year, Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan's plans to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain line between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., and also gave the nod to replacing Enbridge's Line 3 between Edmonton and Superior, Wis. But he pushed ahead with a national carbon price and rejected Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The compromise did not please Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

"I share the bitter disappointment," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation downstream of the oilsands, said his band has been trying for years to get action on its concerns. His people want a comprehensive health study done, as well as movement on environmental recommendations on already-approved mines.

"We haven't gotten any further than when I first started," he said. "In fact, we've gone further backward."

Trudeau failed to restructure the National Energy Board or environmental assessment hearings into major resource projects, said Phillip.

He promised indigenous people will turn to the courts to try to block any more fossil fuel development, including the Teck Frontier mine, a new oilsands project being reviewed that would produce about 260,000 barrels of bitumen a day.

Some went so far as to lump Trudeau in with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump.

"When Prime Minister Trudeau says he looks forward to working with Trump on yet another tar sands expansion pipeline, Keystone XL, that tells you everything you need to know about Trudeau's commitment to respecting indigenous rights," Phillips said.

Story continues below advertisement

"There's going to be more poor people if the likes of your prime minister and our president-elect have their way — a lot of poor, sick people," added Fonda.

Fonda is the latest prominent person to have visited and expressed concerns about the oilsands. The list includes fellow actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Hollywood film director James Cameron, musician Neil Young and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Each visit has provoked a backlash on social media and from some political leaders. Fonda said celebrity remains a valuable tool to amplify the voices of those who have a hard time getting heard.

She took an aerial tour of the oilsands on Tuesday. Provincial officials were expecting a chance to brief her Wednesday on Alberta's climate plan, which includes a price on carbon and phasing out coal power, but an Energy Department spokesman said the meeting didn't take place.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter