Dear Michael Connors:
I am one of the people named in the lawsuit by SWN Resources Canada, in which SWN aims to recover damages for their work delays related to their 2013 shale gas exploration program in Kent County. I have listened to an audio recording of your meeting last night (Nov 10; found on Upriver Environment Watch’s Facebook page) in the Mi’kmaq Longhouse.
For the record, I am yet again appalled by the tactics being employed by SWN Resources Canada to damage my reputation. You did not see fit to contact me directly to make your “offer” of dropping charges against me, if I do not participate in violence during SWN’s planned conclusion of their exploration program. I have a number of points to make about this, but for now will only say that I found it reprehensible that someone operating on behalf of SWN (you) would again publicly suggest that I might engage in violence of any form. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest I have done so or that I ever would.
Notwithstanding my disgust with the above, I listened carefully to the audio recording of last night’s meeting. You mentioned that SWN is from the United States and they have a lot to learn and a lot of mistakes have been made. I also heard your concern to prevent violence from occurring when SWN resumes their exploration program for extreme shale gas mining locations here in Kent County.
I would like to refer you, as a start, to the open letter recently posted by Alex Neve of Amnesty International and Ed Bianchi of KAIROS. It details some of the crucial steps that must be taken to avoid violence in situations such as this. (Open Letter concerning anti-fracking protests at the Elsipogtog Mi …)
In fact, I think SWN’s team of lawyers and the provincial government of New Brunswick would greatly benefit from reading the recommendations of Commissioner Sidney Linden from the Ipperwash Inquiry — to quote from Linden’s final report release comments:
“Ipperwash is important because it helps us to understand the roots and dynamics of an Aboriginal occupation…
Understanding Ipperwash can help us to understand how to prevent Aboriginal occupations and protests in the
first place, or how to reduce the risk of violence, if they do occur.” http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/ipperwash/index.html
I also believe it is important for the legal advisors to SWN and the NB government to read the relevant sections on the Peace and Friendship Treaty from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/webarchives/20071115053257/http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ch/rcap/sg/sgmm_e.html) and the portion of the Constitution of Canada that outlines the federal and provincial government’s responsibilities for “peace, order and good government” (see for example, http://www.parl.gc.ca/about/parliament/senatoreugeneforsey/book/chapter_3-e.html).
Following these rules of law would have prevented violence in the face of wide-spread, unified grassroots community opposition to the imposition of shale gas industrial development in the Signigtog District of original Mi’kmaq territory, also known as Kent County, New Brunswick. Following them now would prevent any further violence.
Finally, if you are wondering where things went wrong, please review the comments of:
NB’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, who has itemized, in this peer-acclaimed research, the issues that concern us grassroots community members (http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/h-s/pdf/en/HealthyEnvironments/Recommendations_ShaleGasDevelopment.pdf);
the past NB Ombudsman, Bernard Richard, found in a CBC news story but I am sure he would be willing to talk with you further on this matter (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/former-ombudsman-says-alward-and-protesters-at-an-impasse-1.2254165).
I trust these resources will assist you and your client in your stated goal of reducing the potential for conflict with my neighbours and friends.
Respectfully yours, for future generations,
Bass River, Kent County, NB