Shale gas protesters confront Northrup
Opponents of shale gas exploration were given a brief meeting with Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup on Thursday after their protest moved from a dirt road outside of Stanley to the province's main government office.
Roughly 60 protesters, most of whom were from the Stanley blockade that ended Wednesday evening, gathered in the lobby of the Centennial Building on Thursday. The lobby is one floor below the Office of the Premier.
The protesters wanted to present their concerns over shale gas exploration to Premier David Alward. However, Alward was in Blacks Harbour on Thursday, so the protesters were given 15 minutes to express their frustration over the controversial practice to the province's natural resources minister.
This protesters left the meeting with Northrup unhappy. Many began booing the natural resources minister as he left as they felt they did not have enough time with him to outline their concerns.
The protesters were hoping Northrup would agree to revoke the licences of companies doing shale gas exploration.
Northrup said the provincial government could not tear up the licences because they were legally binding documents signed by the former government.
Earlier on Thursday, the Fredericton Police was called to the Centennial Building and asked the protesters to leave the building.
Members of the group say they are not leaving and can stay inside the building as long as they allow regular business to continue.
Meantime, Progressive Conservative MLA Kirk MacDonald said the protesters' message is getting through to the provincial government.
MacDonald met with protesters outside Stanley on Wednesday night. They agreed to end the blockade that had prevented trucks with seismic testing equipment from moving.
MacDonald said he understands their concerns.
The provincial government recently came out with regulations on shale gas exploration, but refuses to impose a moratorium on it.