New Brunswick

Shale gas protester defies court order

Former Elsipogtog chief and NDP candidate Susan Levi-Peters stood in the middle of Highway 11 in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent on Wednesday morning, blocking shale gas exploration trucks.

Former Elsipogtog chief Susan Levi-Peters blocked SWN trucks, but left peacefully with RCMP warning

Susan Levi-Peters, former Elsipogtog chief, blocked SWN Resources Canada trucks on Highway 11 near Rexton on Wednesday. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

Former Elsipogtog chief and NDP candidate Susan Levi-Peters stood in the middle of Highway 11 in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent on Wednesday morning, blocking shale gas exploration trucks.

She was one of about 25 people who braved the rain and wind to protest the ongoing work by SWN Resources Canada near Rexton.

Levi-Peters said she was driving home from Moncton when she saw the trucks.

"I don't know what happened," she said. "I had this urge, I had to stop and at least stop them and do something."

Levi-Peters pulled over and walked to the trucks. She said she wanted the drivers to show her the paperwork that allowed them to be in the area. 

Security guards asked Levi-Peters to move, but she stood fast.

"They said the RCMP are coming and I said good. I said 'I want to see a lease, I want to see where they get the authority to be here.'"

RCMP officers then handed her a copy of the court injunction obtained by SWN last Friday and asked her to leave.

The court order forbids protesters from getting closer than 250 metres to SWN trucks, and 20 metres from the side of the highway where work is being done.

Levi-Peters eventually left with a warning.

A man was arrested, however, for breaching a previous condition not to be at a protest site, said RCMP Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh.

He remained in custody as of late Wednesday afternoon, she said. No charges have been laid.

SWN's four vibroseis trucks set back to work, searching for shale gas deposits.

Officers also instructed members of the media to abide by the injunction and stay away from the trucks.

About 19 police cars were parked across the street from the protesters into the afternoon, while others drove by the protest site throughout the day, CBC's Jennifer Choi reported.

She described the mood Wednesday morning as being calm, compared to Tuesday when tensions flared between more than 30 protesters and a strong police presence of at least 23 vehicles.

Two men were arrested Tuesday for breaching the court order — one during the day, the other during the evening, said Rogers-Marsh.

No charges were laid, she said. They were both released on Wednesday under the conditions they not be at a protest site and that they stay at least one kilometre away from exploration equipment and vehicles.

On Monday, two women and a man were arrested in Moncton's Caledonia Industrial Park for violating the court order. They were released and are scheduled to appear in court at a later date to face charges.

On Oct. 17, a protest in Rexton ended in a violent clash between protesters and RCMP officers. Six RCMP vehicles were set on fire and dozens of protesters were arrested in an incident that set off a wave of sympathy protests across the country.


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