Actress and activist Jane Fonda blasted Canada’s prime minister on Wednesday at a panel discussion in Edmonton on Alberta’s oilsands, accusing him of betraying his government’s commitments made at the Paris climate talks.
After the international climate talks in Paris in 2015, Fonda said she viewed Justin Trudeau as “the shining hope,” but she now says he has betrayed every commitment made there.
“I guess the lesson is, we shouldn’t be fooled by good-looking liberals,” Fonda said.
Fonda and three Indigenous chiefs, along with Canadian activist and actress Barbara Williams, attended the panel discussion Wednesday to criticize the federal government’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipelines.
Fonda was in Fort McMurray on Tuesday to meet with Indigneous leaders and environmentalists. Outside a Moxie’s restaurant she was approached by oilsands advocates and residents who criticized the 79-year-old actress’s agenda.
“We’re not here to trash Alberta, to trash Fort McMurray or the men and women who work in the tar sands, that’s not our purpose,” Fonda said at the panel discussion. “We are at a moment in human history that is absolutely unique, this has never happened before.”
The discussion began with an impassioned plea from Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, whose community is upstream from Alberta’s oilsands region.
Adams said his people continue to die from cancer at alarmingly high rates, a fact he blamed on oilsands developments.
“I am not an environmentalist, I am a land user, I am a provider,” he said. “Whatever food I’m bringing in from the bush, it is getting our people sick.”
The chief said he had hoped that, after four decades of Conservative rule in Alberta, things would be different when the NDP government came to power in May 2015.
But under the Rachel Notley government, he said, it’s business as usual, with the province still pushing for more pipelines the panelists agreed are unnecessary.
“I feel very, very ashamed to call myself an Albertan,” Adams said. “I feel very, very ashamed to call myself a Canadian citizen.”
For her part, Fonda warned that the world is running out of time to solve the problem of climate change and protect the planet.
Taking questions after the panel discussion, Fonda was asked if the Alberta government’s climate change plan, which includes phasing out coal-fired power plants, gives Alberta the “social licence” to build more pipelines.
“Well, that’s ridiculous!” Fonda shouted. “That’s absolutely ridiculous.”
She said phasing out coal is a good step, but a small one at a time when the world needs to cut way back on the use of fossil fuels.
Amplifying the voices
Several reporters asked Fonda why Albertans should listen to an outsider.
“When you’re famous,” she said, “you can help amplifying the voices of people that can’t necessarily get the press.”?
The actress cancelled her scheduled interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM Wednesday morning and instead sent out a release saying she’ll hold a news conference at the University of Alberta.
The pipeline approvals and the possible Keystone XL and Energy East pipelines will, the group said in a statement, “pave the way for continued tar sands expansion” and are “in direct conflict with Canada’s commitments to Indigenous Rights.”
They also plan to discuss the role of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Paris climate accord in pipeline development.