nb-brian-gallant-scrum

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant says New Brunswick should "pause" all shale gas activity until it has more information. (CBC)

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant repeated his call for a moratorium on shale gas Thursday during his official response to the Alward government's throne speech.

Gallant says all exploration should stop, pending the release of two reports next year by Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Fracking is a contentious issue in our province, across North America and across the globe," he said.

"Considering the risks are not fully known, that prices are currently very low, and more information is coming, does it not make sense to make sure we have a moratorium; we press pause while we get more information?"

'I'm hoping that it'll be some decisive data in there, some decisive analysis.'- Liberal Leader Brian Gallant

But Gallant won't say what his party will do if the reports don't offer a clear-cut answer, or if they contradict each other.

"I'm hoping that it'll be some decisive data in there, some decisive analysis,” he said.

“If that's not the case, we'll definitely have to take it from there."

Gallant also could not say what the Liberals will do if they win the provincial election next fall and the reports still aren’t complete.

'Playing politics'

Energy Minister Craig Leonard predicts at least one of the reports won't be finished before voters go to the polls in September, and says the other study is headed by someone who favours development.

“It's a bizarre scenario to hear the leader of the Opposition base the party's entire focus on shale gas, and from what it sounded like, natural resource development as a whole, on these two resources — one of which won't be available before the election, and the other, we generally know where they're going to stand," said Leonard.

The Alward government accuses Gallant of not having any job creation plan to boost the economy, as it contends shale gas would do.

Leonard says he expects the Liberals would end up allowing shale gas development if they win the election. He says the party is calling for a moratorium now to score political points.

"It's a classic case of playing politics with it leading up to an election," Leonard said.

Earlier this week, Gallant would not say how long he would keep a moratorium in place if he becomes premier next year.