In one corner of the ring sits Hollywood legend Robert Redford, star of films such as The Sting and All the Presidents Men and now a committed environmentalist and ardent critic of tar sands and the Keystone XL.
In the other corner is Alberta Premier, Alison Redford, ardent and passionate supporter of ripping up her homeland, poisoning the local Indigenous community, extracting the tar sands and exporting it to anyone who wants it.
Ironically the two Redfords may even be distantly related, but now they find themselves on the polar opposite sides of the tar sands and Keystone XL debate.
And the war of words is heating up.
Earlier this week, Robert Redford penned an article on Exxon’s latest spill in Arkansas, calling it another “red flag” warning signal: “When I see raw tar sands coursing through people’s yards and across wetlands, it makes me sick,” he wrote, adding: “My thoughts are with the people in Arkansas who are dealing with this river of toxic mess.”
Redford is not alone in arguing that the Arkansas spill is yet another reason why we should say no to KXL, but his is a powerful voice. “My thoughts instantly move ahead to what could happen to farms, families, homes, and wild areas across our country if we support expansion of tar sands with permits for pipelines such as Keystone XL.”
Calling tar sands “different and dangerous”, Redford asks “how many red flags do we need before we realize that the solution is to stop tar sands expansion and say no to tar sands pipelines? I think we’ve seen enough.”
Robert’s words will have been like a red rag to a bull to Alison Redford, the Premier of Alberta, who has done as much as any Canadian politician to push the dirty tar sands internationally.
“Celebrities being celebrities will never change, but at the end of the day it is important for us to speak for the people whose lives are actually affected by these decisions, ” she said, with no hint of irony that she is not talking for the Ingenious communities who are being slowly poisoned by her policies.
Earlier this week, Alison was on her fourth trip to Washington in just 18 months to lobby on behalf of the Keystone XL.
She basically said that critics of the pipeline, including Robert Redford, were “far from reality” about its environmental costs.
“They proclaim that either you stand against the oil sands, or you write off the environment, along with any hope for a sustainable existence,” said Redford. “That is completely wrong.”
Ironically before being elected Alison Redford was a human rights lawyer. Maybe she should stop flying to Washington and, instead look at how the tar sands is impacting the rights of First Nations in her province.
This week, there was more bad news for the local Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s in their bid to block a ruling on Shell’s Jackpine tar sands mine in northern Alberta, as the Supreme Court blocked the challenge.
“We are truly disappointed with this decision as we have diligently proceeded through legal avenues to have our rights upheld,” said Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam.
“We understand that this joint review panel was supposed to uphold everyone’s constitutional rights. Why has there been an exception with regards to First Nations’ consultation rights?
You are the human rights lawyer, Alison. You should know.