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David Suzuki calls on Neil Young, Feist, Margaret Atwood for fall tour

David Suzuki on Wednesday night announced the star-studded national Blue Dot campaign and tour.

Jack Roand/Handout

Canadian environmental superstar David Suzuki is teaming up with actual rock stars – and other big name celebrities – for a cross-Canada tour to launch a new environmental campaign. The Blue Dot Tour features a star-studded line-up of musical and non-musical guests, including Neil Young, Feist, and Margaret Atwood.

A news release issued Wednesday said this "may be" Mr. Suzuki's final national speaking tour.

"This is the most important thing I've ever done," said Mr. Suzuki in the release.

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The Blue Dot campaign seeks to call attention to the fact that more than 110 nations, including France, Norway and Argentina, recognize the right of their citizens to live in a healthy environment – but Canada is not one of them.

"Despite living in a country where taking care of one another is something we just do, our right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat healthy food is not recognized," says Mr. Suzuki in a video promoting the initiative. "But we can change that."

Michiah Prull, director of communications and public engagement for the David Suzuki Foundation, says the objective of the tour is citizen engagement rather than fundraising. "It is raising awareness and it is to build this movement – not just of iconic leaders but of ordinary Canadians. And we believe as that movement grows and receives more recognition, that the call for the recognition of our rights will become more meaningful. And that we will have a real chance to have a conversation as a country about: do we have these rights, and if so, then we should recognize them," he told The Globe and Mail.

The lineup will change in each city – there are 20 dates – with musical guests such as Bruce Cockburn, Barenaked Ladies, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, Raine Maida, Chantal Kreviazuk, Jeremy Fisher, Grimes, Joel Plaskett, Royal Wood and Metric's Emily Haines. Other participants include iconic children's musician Raffi, visual artist Robert Bateman, humanitarian activist Stephen Lewis, and spoken word artist (and Olympic poet) Shane Koyczan.

Mr. Suzuki is "volunteering 100 per cent of his time and efforts," says Mr. Prull, who adds all proceeds will go to the foundation.

As for the environmental impact of such a cross-country initiative, Mr. Prull says the foundation is doing everything it can to minimize that, but adds the environmental costs are justified.

"We believe that [we're] creating this movement to protect these basic fundamental rights, and if we're successful in having those rights protected over the long run, that will have a lasting impact that will be far more substantial than this great tour itself."

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The tour kicks off Sept. 24 in St. John's and travels to every province. It will hit Toronto on Oct. 3, with a date at Massey Hall. The tour wraps up Nov. 9 in Vancouver, when Mr. Young – who has been a vocal opponent of the oil sands – will be among those sharing the Orpheum stage with Mr. Suzuki.

"It's time to protect the people and places we love," Mr. Suzuki says in the video. "Are you in?"

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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