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Local artists threaten to boycott festival given TransCanada sponsorship


Barlow and Council of Canadians energy campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue in Kemptville, April 2014.

Local musicians are threatening to boycott the Kemptville Dandelion Festival given the festival has accepted sponsorship from Calgary-based TransCanada, the company behind the 1.1 million barrels per day tar sands pipeline that threatens the drinking water of that community.

Kemptville is a community located in the Municipality of North Grenville about 60 kilometres south of Ottawa. The Energy East pipeline would cross directly over the Oxford aquifer, from which 70 per cent of North Grenville’s residents draw their drinking water. The aquifer has been classified as ‘highly vulnerable to pollution’ because the soil there is very thin and the rock is riddled with holes and fractures. The pipeline route would also cross a significant groundwater recharge area. All of this makes the drinking water in the area very vulnerable should the pipeline spill.

CBC reports, “Kemptville’s art, culture and heritage festival is facing a boycott from local artists less than a month before the May three-day event after accepting a $5,000 donation from TransCanada, the energy company planning to build a controversial oil pipeline through the community.” Metro News adds, “A group of musicians is threatening to pull out of a local music festival because it is being sponsored in part by TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the proposed Energy East pipeline. …Singer song-writer John Carroll is one of the musicians who is considering cancelling his appearance at the Kemptville Dandelion Festival on May 22. …[He says], ‘If TransCanada is a sponsor or has any affiliation, then I won’t play the festival.'”

But now the festival has conceded that if Energy East pipeline opponents Sustainable North Grenville can raise $5,000 by May 8, the festival will return the donation from TransCanada. Sustainable North Grenville is launching a crowdfunding campaign today to make that possible. So far they’ve received a promised donation of $1,500.

The web-link for the fundraising site will be posted here shortly.

On April 15, 2014, the Council of Canadians organized a public forum in Kemptville opposed to the Energy East pipeline. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow was a featured speaker at that gathering. We will continue to support local opposition to this pipeline and toward that end we will be making a donation to the Sustainable North Grenville fundraising campaign.

It should also be noted that Shaun Vardon, the chairperson of the Board for the festival, says they approached TransCanada for the donation after the festival’s annual federal grant was decreased.

For more on our campaign against the Energy East pipeline, please click here.