Alward refuses to meet with shale gas protesters
Premier says he won't meet while they are breaking the law by blocking Route 134
Premier David Alward says he's not prepared to meet with shale gas protesters in Kent County while they continue to break the law.
Protesters cut down trees Monday to erect barricades on Route 134, which gives Rexton access to Highway 11.
They have also blocked the entry to the area where SWN Resources Canada has parked vehicles used in its exploration for shale gas.
The protesters want a meeting with officials from SWN and the provincial government.
Speaking in Toronto on Wednesday, Alward said meeting with the protesters isn't something he is prepared to do at this time.
"I certainly am prepared to meet with groups that don't break the law," said Alward. "But when individuals and groups break the law, I'm not prepared to meet with them."
Despite the premier's response, protesters say the blockade will continue until the province and SWN agree to meet.
SWN Resources has been exploring for possible shale gas deposits in Kent County since the spring, operating under an exploration permit issued by the province. Depending on what it found, the company could drill test wells in the future.
'Eviction notice' ignored
Shale gas is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects water, sand and chemicals into the earth to create cracks in the shale formation and extract gas reserves that would otherwise be untapped.
Protesters contend that puts the groundwater supply at risk.
The chief of Elsipogtog First Nation, Arren Sock, issued an "eviction notice" to SWN Resources on Tuesday, giving it until midnight that day to remove its equipment.
The company ignored the notice.
Protesters say Sock didn't show up at the midnight deadline, and neither did any other band council members.
"If he wants to go and make these kinds of rash decisions, then he needs to have a backbone to them," said protester Suzanne Patles.
They cannot evict whoever they want, it's not their right, right now.- Serge Rousselle, law professor
Protester John Pictou felt the same way.
"They should have just showed up and be standing and be heard," said Pictou. "Not leaving us members, the warriors, protecting the people and the elders here, not knowing what we're doing."
University of Moncton law professor Serge Rousselle said Sock's eviction notice is not valid.
"They cannot evict whoever they want, it's not their right, right now," said Rousselle.
Rousselle points out the company is exploring with the permission of the provincial government. He said the only thing that could give Elsipogtog First Nation control over the land in question is a court challenge or an agreement with the province on aboriginal treaty rights in New Brunswick.