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Neil Young Oilsands Comments Gets Massive Support In Alberta, But Also Serious Tongue Lashings

Majority Of Albertans Side With Him

Neil Young's condemnation of the oilsands sparked a loud, and at times vicious, debate but the majority of Albertans seem to think the old rocker has a point.

In a poll conducted by The Huffington Post Alberta, more than 60 per cent of respondents backed Young, while less than 39 per cent said the Canadian rock icon is off base on the issue.

Less than one percent had no opinion on the issue.

In an in-house poll of their own, the Edmonton Journal found that more than 77 per cent of respondents supported Young's stance on the issue, as well.

The ratio was almost identical in social media, where the majority of responses sided with the 68-year-old musician. But those who defended the oilsands did so feverishly.

But those who opposed the rocker were fierce and direct in their attacks, largely fueled by what they say is inflammatory language used by Young after his visit to the province last year, when he compared the oilsands region to Hiroshima.

"It looked very big and very impressive. Extremely well-organized. A lot of people were working � hard-working people, who I respect," said Young over the weekend.

"That was one of 50 sites. The one we saw was the cleanest one. It's the best-looking one. It's the poster child.

"And it's one of the ugliest things I've ever seen."

Young launched his current four-date tour benefiting the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Fund in Toronto over the weekend, with shows still to come in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary.

The Chipewyan are fighting oilsands development and money raised by Young's tour will go to pay for the nation's legal expenses.

The tour is a bit of a two-pronged campaign, as it protests oilsands development but also calls attention to what Young says is the Canadian government ignoring First Nations treaties.

Others, meanwhile, supported the musician's sentiments but were disappointed in the execution of those intentions.

"This guy single handedly divided the Oil sands argument and setback any form of logical and objective thinking in producing oil while attempting to maintain proper and stricter environmental controls," said Salem Al-Ahmad via Facebook.

"I actually respect (his) fund raising efforts, raising money for the legal battles is pretty awesome of this crazy dude. I just wish he would stop using such inflammatory language and mixing regions and towns up. Last I checked outside my window Fort McMurray wasn't bomb site," added Erin Rori Schwab on Facebook.

Others enraged by Young's statements got even more personal, if slightly off topic.

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Young's comments come at a time when criticism against the oilsands is ramping up and threatens to stall, if not cancel, major growth projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The musician's first concert in his benefit tour - and the war of words it sparked with the PMO - took place just days after the Alberta government announced it's investigating a second leak at the troubled Primrose CNRL oilsands operation at the CFB Cold Lake weapons range, and within days of a study stating Alberta has also lost more of its natural landscape to industry than any other province in Canada.

Young will play in Calgary as part of the tour but Mayor Naheed Nenshi has already said Young won't be white-hatted when he comes to town.

The long-held Calgary tradition honours high-profile or deserving visitors to the city by presenting them with a white stetson.

Neil Young plays Calgary on Sunday.

With files from The Canadian Press

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