CBC: Hundreds of shale gas opponents demonstrate at NB legislature

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/hundreds-of-shale-gas-opponents-demonstrate-at-legislature-1.2415397

Hundreds of shale gas opponents demonstrate at legislature

Crowd of between 350 and 650 call for ban on exploration

CBC News Posted: Nov 05, 2013 12:29 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 05, 2013 6:19 PM AT

An anti-shale gas rally was held at the legislature on Tuesday, just as the legislature was set to begin a new session.An anti-shale gas rally was held at the legislature on Tuesday, just as the legislature was set to begin a new session. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Hundreds of protesters crowded the front of the provincial legislature in Fredericton on Tuesday, demonstrating against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

The protest coincided with the day of the throne speech, in which the Alward government pledged to forge ahead with exploiting the province’s natural resources.

Outside, protesters demanded a stop to shale gas exploration and development of the industry in the province, which they fear could cause environmental damage, including contamination of groundwater supplies.

“They go into the community to exploit the people of the community,” said protester Charles Richard. “Once they exploit them, take everything, they pack their bags and they go. That’s why they call them carpetbaggers.”

Police estimated there were between 350 and 400 protesters. The Council of Canadians say they counted 650.

The anti-shale gas protesters headed out for a march in the city, ending with speeches and songs on Fredericton’s green, just down the street from the legislature. A native longhouse and three teepees lined the Saint John River.

Twelve-year-old Isaac Cyr was one of the youngest protesters. He’s from the Elsipogtog First Nation, which has been at the centre of major anti-shale demonstrations in Rexton, including a violent clash with RCMP on Oct. 17 that ended in 40 arrests.

“At the Rexton site I was the fire keeper for four days,” he said. “I maintained the fire, the sacred fire.”

Anti-shale gas protesters weren’t the only demonstrators outside the legislature. A small group of paramedics gathered, unhappy with cuts to the night shift in the Chipman area.

“Our concern is that a trial layoff will impact emergency services throughout the greater Fredericton and Grand Lake area,” said Trent Piercy, president of the paramedic union.

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CBC: SWN set to resume shale gas exploration Monday, chief says

SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/swn-set-to-resume-shale-gas-exploration-monday-chief-says-1.2325522

SWN set to resume shale gas exploration Monday, chief says

Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock calls on Premier David Alward to impose 6-month moratorium

CBC News Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5:17 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 01, 2013 5:53 PM AT

SWN Resources Canada intends to resume shale gas exploration near Rexton on Monday, just two weeks after a violent clash between RCMP and protesters, says Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock.

The company informed him of its plans, an angry Sock announced during a news conference, held Friday afternoon at the Moncton Casino.

Sock is calling on Premier David Alward to intervene.

He wants a six-month moratorium to allow time for meaningful negotiations, he said.

If the premier does not intervene, Sock could not speculate whether there will be more protests and blockades.

On Oct. 17, an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton turned violent after RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction obtained by SWN against a blockade.

Six police vehicles were destroyed by fire and 40 people were arrested. Explosive devices, firearms, knives and ammunition were seized.

Sock met with the premier the following day and both sides agreed to a cooling-off period.

On Friday, Sock told reporters he felt deceived. He said Alward had told him he would contact SWN officials about postponing exploration, but it seems that did not happen.

In addition, Sock said no meaningful discussions have taken place since police raided the protesters’ camp on Route 134.

He said although the province has appointed a lawyer to deal with the matter, every time he has contacted the lawyer, the lawyer has claimed to be unaware of what he’s supposed to do.

On Saturday, members of Elsipogtog First Nation plan to begin reclaiming Crown land in Kent County by placing plaques on 50 separate 100-acre lots.

But Serge Rousselle, a professor of aboriginal law at the University of Moncton, contends it will be a symbolic exercise with no legal consequences.

Jailed protesters mistreated, lawyer says

Shale gas protester Jason Augustine says protesters are being treated unfairly by the RCMP. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Meanwhile, earlier in the day on Friday, at another news conference held on the steps of the Moncton Law Courts, a lawyer representing five of the protesters jailed on Oct. 17 said their rights are being violated.

Alison Menard said four men are still in custody. “It’s been two to three weeks that these people have been detained, and it doesn’t seem like things are necessarily changing for the people who have been in detention,” she said.

Menard contends the arrested protesters have been mistreated while in custody.

“Is it normal for people to be held in segregation while waiting for their first court appearances? Is it normal for them to have access to no programs? Is it normal for them to not even have shampoo and in some cases toilet paper? Is it normal for them to be hit by somebody when they’re being handcuffed?

“I don’t think any of these things are normal,” she said.

“They are presumed innocent and I think regular folks would be very concerned by the way these people, and other people, are treated when they’re in the detention centre.”

Menard is urging citizens to write the provincial ombudsman and ask that the allegations of mistreatment be looked into, saying such actions should concern all New Brunswickers.

Jason Augustine, one of the arrested protesters who has since been granted bail, says he wants ordinary citizens to know how he was treated while detained.

“I was in the hole, we called it the hole, for eight days. I was denied a lot of access there. Each time I said, ‘I want to talk to my lawyer,’ they said, ‘No, you’re not allowed, it’s after hours, you can’t talk to your lawyer.’ With the rights I know, I am obligated to talk to my lawyer … the rights they were denying me of. That was uncalled for,” he said.

CBC: N.B. Premier firm on shale-gas pledge as anti-fracking protesters cheer injunction’s end

In an interview, New Brunswick Premier David Alward says he is hoping SWN Resources, the Texas energy company exploring for shale gas near Rexton, N.B., will resume its operations. (ANDREW VAUGHAN/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

JANE TABER

HALIFAX — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Oct. 21 2013, 9:06 PM EDT

Last updated Monday, Oct. 21 2013, 9:10 PM EDT

Just days after a violent anti-fracking protest, New Brunswick Premier David Alward is pressing ahead with his vow to develop a shale gas industry, suggesting First Nations people will share the economic benefits.

But natives are not budging, arguing that their drinking water, which they fear the fracking process could contaminate, is not for sale.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Alward said he is hoping SWN Resources, the Texas energy company exploring for shale gas near Rexton, N.B., will resume its operations.

He made his comments as native protesters and Elsipogtog First Nation people cheered a New Brunswick judge’s decision on Monday to lift an injunction that had ordered them to stop blocking trucks from leaving the SWN Resources compound to do seismic testing in the area.

The trucks were removed after the RCMP moved in on the native protesters’ encampment last Thursday to enforce the injunction.

Some First Nations people interpreted the judge’s decision as a message to SWN to leave the province. The Premier sees no correlation.

“It’s very much one day at a time,” Mr. Alward said of the resumption of SWN operations. “What we have to remember is that the current work that SWN is doing is exploration. That’s what this phase has been.”

SWN has not replied to requests to comment on when or if it will restart exploration.

“Certainly, my hope and my confidence is that we will see a shale gas industry develop in New Brunswick,” Mr. Alward said. “We can’t afford otherwise.”

He said it would bring prosperity to the province and allow young people who have moved west for work to return home. The Premier repeated, too, that the industry would be developed safely and securely with environmental studies and consultations with First Nations.

“In the end, we are all collectively going to benefit as New Brunswickers, including First Nations, both as individuals but as communities as well,” he said.

Support has poured in for Elsipogtog First Nation from other native groups across the country after Thurday’s violence, in which police cars were torched, rocks thrown and protesters pepper-sprayed. Over the weekend, the native leadership there called for calm – and uneasy quiet has fallen, although protesters remain at the encampment.

It is not clear how the situation will be resolved.

“There is absolutely no way, absolutely no way [we] are going to agree to any form of fracking on or near our community,” said Robert Levy, a band councillor and a former Elsipogtog chief. “They can offer everything. They can offer all the monies they want. We just can’t take that chance of our water for our kids and our kids yet to be born.”

Native groups are not the only ones concerned about fracking. Liberal opposition leader Brian Gallant is calling for a moratorium.

“I believe we need to press pause,” Mr. Gallant said, noting that two studies of the industry are to be released in the next year. “The environment and health risks concern me more than the potential economic benefits excite me.”

Mr. Gallant is meeting on Tuesday with native leaders. Mr. Alward said provincial and band officials are trying to work out a process to resolve the situation. He decided to skip a trade mission this week to Brazil with his Atlantic colleagues to deal with the situation.

With a report from the Canadian Press