New Brunswick

Green Party backs non-violent anti-shale gas protests

Green Party Leader David Coon is defending actions of anti-shale gas protesters this week, who blocked a truck owned by a contractor hired by SWN Resources Canada.

David Coon says non-violent protests have a storied history in Canada

Green party Leader David Coon is defending actions of anti-shale gas protesters this week, who blocked a truck owned by a contractor hired by SWN Resources Canada and disrupted the company's plans to carry out seismic testing.

SWN Resources has run into resistance from some protesters in Kent County as it prepares to conduct seismic testing in eastern New Brunswick.

Coon said the Green party is against violence but supports other actions to stop seismic testing in New Brunswick.

Anti-shale gas protesters continued to show their opposition to seismic testing in Kent County on Thursday. (CBC)

"Actions have absolutely got to be non-violent and that's where we draw the line. Non-violent civil disobedience has a long and storied history in Canada and around the world," Coon said.

"It's what led to the end of the ravage of the old growth forests in British Columbia in the Canadian context. It helped end the incredible segregation that once existed in the United States and drove the British out of India and so on."

Energy and Mines Minister Craig Leonard also said this week people are free to protest as long as it's peaceful.

The RCMP arrested three people on Wednesday at an anti-shale gas protest on Route 126.

There was a smaller rally along Highway 126 near Saint Paul on Thursday afternoon.

The protesters were greeted by a strong police presence.

RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah said the anti-shale gas rally started blocking the seismic testing trucks from moving along the highway.

A truck owned by a subcontractor of SWN Resources Canada was blocked by protesters on Tuesday afternoon. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

She said a man and a woman were arrested for mischief. And a young person was arrested for obstructing a police officer.

"Now while there was no violence, some people were impeding the lawful operation of a business, which you can’t do," Farrah said.

SWN Resources is conducting seismic tests in Kent County to see if the oil and gas deposits are significant enough to start an industry in the area.

Protesters are concerned the seismic testing could lead to hydraulic fracturing. SWN Resources is not hydro-fracking in New Brunswick.

Hydro-fracking is a process where companies inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations. That process allows companies to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise go untapped.

The New Brunswick government has already announced a series of legal and regulatory reforms that are intended to give the province some of the strictest oil and natural gas exploration rules in North America.