RCMP arrest 12 anti-shale gas protesters in New Brunswick
Demonstration was held on Route 126 near Harcourt
The RCMP arrested 12 anti-shale gas protesters on Route 126 near Harcourt, N.B., on Friday morning.
The protesters have been holding demonstrations and blocking roads in Kent County for more than a week.
RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah said a small number of people tried to block work crews in the area.
SWN Resources Canada is conducting seismic testing to determine whether it is feasible to establish shale gas production in New Brunswick.
The protesters "were attempting to block the heavy equipment from travelling on the road," said Farrah. "Now the people who were doing so were breaking the law and they were informed that they were breaking the law and that they needed to move," she said.
"They refused and 12 people were arrested, so of those people, there were seven men and five women."
The road has since been cleared and Farrah says there have been no further incidents.
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy issued a statement on Friday, calling on Premier David Alward to lead direct discussions between SWN and New Brunswick's First Nations Chief.
"Following today's arrests in Kent County the premier needs to step in," said Cardy. "The premier must take the lead in calling for three-way talks between the government, SWN, and the elected chiefs," he said.
"The alternative is increasing tensions, a rising risk of violence, and a further erosion of New Brunswick's reputation as a place to do business."
'War is not over'
Protesters told CBC News it was an emotional morning.
"During the sunrise ceremony, the SWN contractors tried to sneak the [seismic testing] trucks by," said Grant Thompson, of Bass River.
The protesters asked the Mounties to stop the trucks from going through, but the work is not illegal. So instead, the police warned them they would be arrested if they didn't get off the road.
"The police came out from behind the trucks and just swarmed in on the line and just started grabbing the people," said Angela Acquin, of Elsipogtog.
She said many of the people who were arrested were prepared.
"The people that chose to be in the front line made that decision, most of them, last night."
John Levi, a self-described warrior chief in Elsipogtog First Nation, said he hates seeing anyone get arrested, but believes there is a positive side.
"Each time our people get arrested, then we get more support," he said.
"We might have lost the battle today, but you know, the war is not over."
As of Thursday, Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors said there had been nine arrests associated with the anti-shale gas protests in the area.