Actress Jane Fonda said on Wednesday that people should not be fooled by “good-looking liberals” like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who “disappointed” her by approving pipelines from the Alberta oil sands.
Fonda said after touring the oil sands area that environmentalists everywhere were impressed by Trudeau at the Paris climate conference in late 2015.
“We all thought, well, cool guy,” Fonda 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.”
Fonda, on a trip organised by Greenpeace, is calling for a stop to pipelines and oil sands development.
“I guess the lesson is we shouldn’t be fooled by good-looking liberals no matter how well-spoken they are,” Fonda said.
Last year, Trudeau approved Kinder Morgan’s plans to triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast, and he approved replacing Enbridge’s Line 3 to Wisconsin.
But he also pushed ahead with a national carbon price and he rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project to northwest British Columbia, which would pass through the Great Bear Rainforest as his Liberal Party government tries to balance the oil industry’s desire to tap new markets in Asia against the concerns of environmentalists.
Fonda, a 79-year-old political activist and two-time Oscar winner for best actress, is the latest celebrity to visit and express concerns about the Alberta oil sands. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Hollywood film director James Cameron have also visited.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Fonda is using her celebrity to promote ill-informed generalisation.
Notley said Fonda should not lecture oil workers about getting jobs elsewhere and added that it was “super tone deaf” for the actress to visit Fort McMurray, Alberta, so soon after devastating wildfires that destroyed 2,400 homes and buildings.
Notley, who leads the left-leaning New Democratic party, also said Alberta has a plan that makes the province a climate leader in North America. Notley said provincial officials were to have met with Fonda to explain the government’s plans but it didn’t happen.
“Dining out on your celebrity is something that someone ought to pair with knowledge and research and she failed to do that,” Notley said.
“It’s very clear she didn’t know what she was talking about.”
A Trudeau spokeswoman referred comment to the office of Canada’s Natural Resource Minister
“Our government believes that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. The oil sands are an important source of jobs and economic prosperity for Canadians,” spokesman Alexandre Deslongchamps said in an email. “We believe we can only develop our natural resources when we can do so sustainably. That’s why we are putting a price on carbon pollution, strengthening environmental and safety standards, and making real investments in clean technology.”
Alberta, which has the world’s third largest oil reserves, needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil production. Approving Trans Mountain helps diversify Canada’s oil exports to Asia. Ninety-seven per cent of Canadian oil exports now go to the US.