How many arrests will it take before Premier David Alward recognizes that he does not have the consent of New Brunswickers to allow the exploitation of shale gas? The people of this province have tried everything to communicate this to the Premier.
It started with meetings with MLAs, letter-writing to cabinet ministers, and the presentation of the largest petition ever tabled in the Legislative Assembly. These fell on deaf ears, so there have been rallies, a massive march through Fredericton, and weekly protests outside the Premier's office last fall. Associations representing family doctors and seniors, have joined their voices with a number of municipal councils, environmental organizations and unions to call for a stop to shale gas exploration. All the political parties, except for the Conservatives, either want a moratorium or an outright ban on shale gas exploitation. Yet Premier David Alward has refused to hit the pause button.
People from every walk of life imaginable have said we should not go down the path to shale gas exploitation. Moms and nuns, PhDs and firefighters, doctors and musicians, carpenters and clergy have all participated in protests - as have I, as Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick.
People who have never protested anything in their life, whether Acadian, anglophone, or First Nation have turned up at demonstrations to safeguard their communities, their health and the environment.
Now the thumper trucks have come to Kent County to carry out seismic testing. Everyone knows that if they get promising results, the next step will be to drill and frack some wells to determine if they can extract commercial volumes of gas.
Some people from Kent County, the Elsipogtog First Nation, and their allies have made the decision to engage in peaceful civil disobedience - standing in the road to prevent the thumper trucks from moving forward. But make no mistake, they may be standing in front of company trucks, it is their own government they are standing up to. And it is the government's police force which is arresting them.
The Premier must call a halt to shale gas exploration now, just as Premiers have in Nova Scotia and Québec. It's time to pull the plug on those exploration licenses.
David Coon, Leader
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