Neil Young, in Vancouver for the Canadian launch of his high-resolution music system, has expressed reserved approval of new environmental policy in Alberta – and also relief at the change in government in Ottawa. The iconic Canadian musician and long-time environmental activist made the comments during a news conference on Monday.
"What do I think of carbon tax? I think it's a capitalist type of solution to a huge problem. And we're living in a capitalist world and ... anything that can be done to slow down the consumption – great," said Mr. Young, 70.
On Sunday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced a sweeping climate action plan, including a carbon tax, a cap on oil sands emissions, phasing out of coal-fired power and incentives for renewable energy such as wind and solar.
"You can't lead into the future of the world by looking down into the ground at fossil fuels," Mr. Young, an outspoken anti-oil sands activist, told The Globe and Mail. "You really have to start looking up into the sky, the sun, which makes more power than fossil fuels in an hour. They cover the entire earth with all this power. Let's get smart, figure out how to do it, start building it, get people jobs. Let's move on."
Last year, Mr. Young launched a concert tour opposing the oil sands, and his latest record, The Monsanto Years, is a concept album that serves as a scathing critique of the corporate world.
Before the federal election in October, while he was in Vancouver on tour to support The Monsanto Years, Mr. Young expressed concerns about the Stephen Harper government, calling its leadership "backwards," and saying it had "trashed" the country's resources and hurt Canada's international image.
Back in town on Monday, Mr. Young seemed pleased with the election results. "I hope Canada's really happy that they actually made change happen; that the 'Stop Harper' signs on so many street corners succeeded in doing something. Because you can't lead a country by looking backwards ... I think it's nice that a positive force is in power in Canada. And more power to Justin Trudeau. I hope he learned a lot sitting around the dinner table."
Mr. Young, who lives in California, was in Vancouver for the Canadian launch of PonoMusic, a system that promises superior-sounding music with much larger files than the ubiquitous mp3. "People are filling up their iTunes with these little tiny files of a representation; it's like a Xerox of what happened. You can recognize it just like you can recognize a Xerox of the Mona Lisa; it doesn't mean that you have the Mona Lisa," Mr. Young said at the media event at Vancouver's Warehouse Studio.
The triangular shaped PonoPlayer (it has been compared to a Toblerone bar) is now available in Canada, as is the online music-buying service.
PonoMusic has had its share of troubles – from leadership and funding issues to critical reviews – but Mr. Young says he is persevering because he believes in the cause of making high-quality music available to consumers. He also says work is under way on an upgraded, revamped device, the Pono 2.
"The whole mission of this is a labour of love," said Mr. Young, whose hits include Heart of Gold and Cinnamon Girl. "And we've been banging against a lot of walls with this, but we're persisting because we have something that is going to endure, and music deserves to be preserved as its highest-quality level."