New Brunswick

Media vehicle seized by fracking protesters in Rexton

The news director for Global New Brunswick says a group of five anti-fracking protesters in Rexton, N.B., seized a news vehicle and camera Saturday.

New demonstrations begin across New Brunswick

Protesters block Highway 11 near Exit 53 in New Brunswick. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The news director for Global New Brunswick says a group of about five protesters in Rexton, N.B., seized a news vehicle and camera and threatened a reporter Saturday. Rexton is about 100 kilometres north of Moncton.

Jim Haskins says reporter Laura Brown was at the site of the shale gas protest around noon local time when the protesters confronted another media outlet and seized a vehicle.

Haskins says Brown got into her vehicle and locked the door, but was threatened by the protesters and told to get out of the vehicle and leave it.

He says Brown refused at first, but felt the situation became unsafe and unstable.

Haskins says Brown left the vehicle, locked it and walked away. He says Brown is safe at an RCMP detachment and is giving a statement to police.

Global News reported that Brown was able to retrieve her vehicle and equipment a few hours after the confrontation.

Fresh protests in Sackville, Moncton

Fracking protests began anew in New Brunswick Saturday with demonstrations in Rexton, Sackville and Moncton. 

Protesters block Highway 11 near Exit 53 in New Brunswick. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

About 100 people gathered on Highway 134 near Rexton. The protesters have blocked one lane of the highway and RCMP say it's slow going. Highway 11 is also being blocked in the same area. RCMP are on that scene too. 

In Sackville, about 50 demonstrators are holding anti-shale gas signs on both sides of the Main Street overpass. They're staying off the road and encouraging drivers to honk in support. 

About 100 people are gathered in Moncton.

Some Sackville protesters told CBC they're disappointed that New Brunswick Premier David Alward has ruled out a moratorium on shale gas development.

On Friday, Alward said his officials will work next week to restart negotiations between the government and a First Nation opposed to shale gas development.

Alward met with Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock for many hours Friday evening. The two had a lengthy discussion about the week's disturbance.

Alward said he believes everyone realizes it's important not to have a repeat of the violence that led to police cars being torched and 40 protesters arrested.

"What we both know and what we both believe is what took place yesterday hurts all of us," Alward said. "Our representatives are going to meet the first of the week, then the chief and I, the elected representatives, will be meeting shortly after that." 

But he said the possibility of a moratorium on shale gas development is not being considered at this point.

'Back off'

Sock, one of the protesters arrested on Thursday, said his community wants both sides to step back.

"To cool off, you know. For the RCMP to back off, SWN to back off, and give us some time try to heal and reflect on what happened," he said. 

SWN Resources, the company at the centre of the conflict, has not agreed to stop shale gas seismic testing, as the protesters demand. 

The CBC's Stephen Puddicombe said, up until this week, the most disruption he'd witnessed during the months of protest was someone sitting in front of a truck. "They've really been peaceful and they're hoping to return to that," he said. 

But with protesters still in jail, it could take some work to stabilize the situation. 

RCMP say force was justified

The Mounties say they were justified in moving in to end a blockade of a company's shale gas exploration site on Thursday because lives could have been in danger.

Assistant commissioner Roger Brown points to the discovery of explosive devices and firearms seized from the protesters' camp in Rexton. RCMP say they found pipe bombs constructed using large commercial-grade fireworks packed into cylinders with shrapnel in the form of shotgun pellets or small crushed rocks.

He says of the 40 people arrested for firearms offences, threats, intimidation, mischief and violating the injunction, 31 have been released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.

The protesters, some of whom were members of the Elsipogtog First Nation, were demonstrating for weeks against the development of a shale gas sector in the province.

With files from the CBC