New Brunswick

Shale gas tensions flare with another arrest in Kent County

A 35-year-old man from Halifax was arrested Thursday for allegedly uttering threats to police in connection with ongoing anti-shale gas protests in Kent County.

Halifax man, identified as reporter, accused of uttering threats to police

A 35-year-old man from Halifax was arrested Thursday near Harcourt in connection with ongoing anti-shale gas protests in Kent County.

The man was arrested without incident for allegedly uttering threats against a police officer on June 21 in the Rogersville area, said RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah.

He has not been charged, but remains in custody, she said.

Media Co-op, an independent media organization, has identified the man as being one of its reporters, who has been covering the ongoing protests against seismic testing by SWN Resources Canada.

An online article on the Media Co-op website alleges his arrest is "a blatant effort to silence his ongoing coverage of the struggle against seismic testing related to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick."

The reporter has been covering the protests from the front lines for more than a month, the article says.

'Effort to silence grassroots voices'

"His arrest is a clear effort to silence grassroots voices," it alleges.

Farrah said she could not confirm if the arrested man is a reporter. Asked if any recording equipment was seized, she said all belongings are taken when an arrest is made for safety.

Farrah also said she was unaware of any other arrests, but other media reports suggest an Elsipogtog First Nation warrior chief was also arrested on Thursday for allegedly obstructing police in connection with the reporter's arrest.

The latest arrests bring the total to more than 34 in recent weeks.

They come just one week after Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock appointed a "peacekeeper" to deal with growing tensions over shale gas exploration in the eastern community.

They also come on the heels of a warning from the RCMP that the situation in Kent County was getting dangerous.

SWN Resources is conducting seismic testing in the area to determine if developing a shale gas industry in the province is viable.

AFN national chief 'in solidarity'

On Thursday, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo issued a statement, saying he stands with the citizens of Elsipogtog and neighbouring communities "in their assertion of Indigenous rights through the peaceful protest of shale gas exploration and development in New Brunswick."

"I stand with them in solidarity in their efforts to protect their traditional land," said Atleo.

"I encourage local authorities to work diligently with the peacekeepers to ensure safety and security of all involved. This situation needs full co-ordination, communication and increased support towards a sustainable solution that guarantees the safety of the citizens of the Elsipogtog First Nation."

"Development opportunities must not come at a cost to First Nation rights. First Nations must be fully engaged in any development in their unceded territories so they can drive the solutions that will grow their communities."

The Alward government has faced two years of protests against developing the shale gas industry and in particular, the use of the contentious practice of hydraulic fracturing or hydro-fracking.

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

Opponents are concerned the process will ruin the water supply and damage the surrounding environment.