We are Demonized by the Top-Secret “Leaked” RCMP Report

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…Was the RCMP Report “leaked” to Justify Bill C-51?

A top-secret RCMP report was “leaked” to La Presse in between the smooth First Reading of the Harper CON’s Bill C-51 – aka the “Security of Canada Information Sharing Act” – and the Bill’s Second Reading. This report portrays Canadian and Indigenous environmentalists as violent crazies who threaten Canada’s “economic interests  and could be physically dangerous to the assets of petroleum industry assets as well as first responders, etc.

The RCMP Report was more than a year old when it became public. The timing of this “leak” synchronized precisely with the debate over Bill C-51. Most people assume it was leaked by someone sympathetic to environmental activists — or someone concerned about the way Bill C-51 could undermine human rights across Canada — or perhaps both.

The Harper CON government relies on disinformation, dirty tricks, and misinformation to ram through its political agenda. This nasty, lying and ignorant report just happened to emerge into the light of day at a crucial time and its release has certainly fed the flames of alarm on all sides of the debate around Bill C-51.

It all smells bad to me. I regretfully imagine that it could perhaps have been strategically “leaked” — i.e., “planted.”  The Harper CONs must want to reassure the Big Oil/Gas/Mining Corporations who bulk up their election funds that the RCMP will soon have tough laws to get rid of those pesky environmentalists.

RCMP Ignorance on Display

The RCMP’s no-doubt high priced security analysts seem ridiculously unaware of the urgent necessity to do something to limit CO2 emission and try to save all life as we know it on this planet. The “leaked” report makes patently clear that the RCMP is in complete denial about climate change trends and impacts.

The ignorance of the RCMP about the biggest social issue facing humanity at this time — skyrocketing climate change impacts — is especially frightening. The RCMP’s institutionally sanctioned denialism calls into question how much time is being spent training our national police force for effective response to increasing climate change-based natural emergencies. Yes, I am scared by this and not much scares me.

The RCMP report Discredits Me and My Allies

Whether leaked or planted, and whether by friend or foe, the RCMP report totally maligns us.  It mocks and shreds the motivations, intentions, and conduct of our diverse, global, climate protection grassroots movement. Its deceitful content appears designed to undermine public confidence in our integrity and values.

In addition to reassuring Big Oil, Gas and Mining corporations, its release could be part of a white noise-style public opinion campaign, intended to bolster support for Bill C-51 among Canada’s sheeple. It says my New Brunswick anti-fracking allies and I conducted “the most violent of the national anti-petroleum protests to date.”

The report makes us look like we have actually been found guilty of things that have never been proven. Right on page 1, those famous burning police cars are trotted out as evidence that my allies and I are – quite simply – thugs.

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Who “We” Are

None of “us” wanted violence. We entered into this unified effort to protect our environment with a firm mutual commitment to non-violence. Local protectors from all cultures agreed not to initiate any violence and not to use or threaten violence. I know this for a fact. I was very clear in several diverse community meetings that this was an essential condition for me to work with others. No one disagreed. Everyone who spoke agreed. Up to mid-October when the RCMP changed the rules of the game, on countless occasions many of us worked to support allies who were starting to lose their self-control. Here is the code we shared:

We are committed to non-violent civil resistance, emphasis on:
• “non-violence” in the traditions of Martin Luther King and Ghandi; 
• “civil” meaning dignified, respectful and serious;
• “resistance” to protect our communities, families, health and        environment..

Our communities here are small and close-knit; somehow or other we know everyone else in this rural area. We had six months of early morning protests, urgent meetings, and late night conversations by the road side, to really become familiar. We fed one another, and we frequently ride-shared, as well as standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the road and in the woods. Despite historic differences and some current tensions based on these differences, we truly learned to trust one another. We became family in our unified grassroots struggle to protect our water and the rest of our natural environment for all future generations. As the Mi’kmaq say, “No’kmaq.”

Over time and under serious provocation, tempers got frayed, but still there was no violence until the RCMP launched their militarized invasion to free SWN equipment on October 17, 2015.

While the RCMP report judges us as guilty of burning those cars, my allies and I do not believe that any of “us” set those cars on fire. Someone set those cars on fire, but many of us believe it was provocateurs, possibly: being paid to disrupt our Unity Camp, in support of the oil and gas industry; and/or, working indirectly with the very security forces that were supposed to remain neutral and protect everyone (the RCMP). We do not know where the arsonist or arsonists came from, but they were not from among “us.”

Talkin’ About Those Burning Cop Cars…

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The secret “leaked” report says those burning police cars demonstrate how dangerous we are. I say there is no proof whatsoever that we torched those cars. Following are a dozen points that suggest a very different scenario regarding who burned the police cars.

  1. I am named as a defendant in the SWN Resources Canada lawsuit launched on October 3, 2013, which was specifically designed to prevent my participation in protests. This type of lawsuit (SLAPP) is specially and frequently used against non-violent environmental protectors who would not be liable for any criminal charges. I mention this because I have to bring to your attention “Tab 11” in the 4” binder with which I was eventually personally served by Atlantic Document Services (ADS) on behalf of SWN. In that affidavit, an employee of ADS explains that as of October 10, he was unable to gain access to the Unity Camp to serve notice of this lawsuit to named parties. The ADS employee swears under oath that RCMP Sgt Robichaud told him if they entered the encampment and “attempted and/or served the document, we would be inciting a riot…,” and while “they [RCMP] would not stop us from going into the site, they could not guarantee our safety and we would be on our own. The RCMP would not accompany us. They did say we would be igniting a powder keg if we attempted service” (bolded words are my emphasis).
  2. Many people have speculated on why the RCMP decided to swerve from the position articulated to this ADS employee (above, point #1). Why did the RCMP decide to risk “igniting a powder keg” and attack the Unity Camp to serve the injunction accompanying this lawsuit? The most prominent theory is that the corporate/political powers had lost patience with the hands-off attitude of the RCMP, and were putting on the pressure to take action against us. On October 18th, the Court of Queen’s Bench was going to hear arguments for and against extension of the injunction against protesting at that location, which was based on that lawsuit. Many of us were preparing to go down and speak against the injunction as a violation of our civil, political and other human rights. SWN and the government may have put on a lot of pressure on the RCMP to end the encampment before the injunction was overturned.
  3. A lot of work had to be done to manufacture an excuse for the RCMP to change its frequently reiterated position of non-intervention in this civil litigation matter, which the RCMP said was not their business and was simply between a corporation and private citizens. In the two or three days just before the October 17th police riot, there was a lot of provocative-style destabilization at the Unity Camp. Some of what Unity Camp protectors witnessed or experienced is covered in this article Prelude to a Raid. It is written by Miles Howe, an environmental activist and a journalist who was on the front line throughout the entire period.
  4. As you continue reading through this list it is important to remember that all the Warriors and many other dedicated activists had already been arrested and removed from the scene, or dispersed, when the cars were set on fire. Who was left on the site at the time? For the most part, after the mass arrests, tear-gassing and less lethal ammo rounds fired by police, the people witnessing were residents from the surrounding area who went down after the predawn raid commenced. These witnesses were kept out of the primary protest area by police. There were also perhaps some curiosity seekers and maybe some “outside” troublemakers.
  5. Despite so many officers at the site, the police left these cars completely unattended. In fact, although there was no threat to them at that time, they all ran down the road, got in other vehicles, and drove straight away from their own squad cars.
  6. The cars went up in flames almost instantly, in what seemed a totally choreographed motion, and they burned a very long time. This all suggests very organized and professional arson involving an exceptionally effective accellerant. Looked at in isolation, without comment on the strategy, these actions and resources seemed to me to be technically way beyond the capacity of our remaining ragtag collection of non-violent environmental protectors.
  7. After the flames died down, witnesses and neighbours who looked at the torched police cars saw no evidence of computers or radios inside. It appeared that these had been removed before the cars may have been deliberately parked where they were, with the plan that they would soon be torched. I heard this from numerous people, including two people who told me they personally saw empty places where communications equipment is located in police cars. At the point they saw this, the cars were still smoldering and too hot to be touched, so no one had removed them post-combustion.
  8. Word of the cars having been previously prepared for decommissioning spread during the weeks after the police riot. I cannot find the material I saw online about this, but I clearly remember reports that a week or more previous to the police riot, these particular cars were all serviced at a shop in an eastern New Brunswick that has previously done specialty work for the RCMP.
  9. The witnessing of events by former military policeman Allan Marsh, a local resident and community politician who opposes fracking, both reiterates and supports some of my points about the person who lit these cars on fire not being one of us. Allan spoke to As It Happens about this the day after the police riot. AM at protest
  10. The burned cars were left on the road for several days. No yellow crime scene tape was put up. If any evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, samples of the accelerant used, or anything else was gathered by the RCMP, it was done in complete secret. No one told me they saw the RCMP step in to gather evidence at this crime scene in a timely manner. Someone who is 100% reliable and a committed non-violent environmentalist was emotionally devastated that the burnt cars were being blamed on us. Two days later, he went to the local RCMP detachment to ask whether the burning of the cars was being investigated. He was met by a frozen silence, followed by a terse statement that they were investigating. Then he was told that the results of the RCMP investigation into this would not be made public. When this person’s questions continued, he was told to leave. To recap, there was no protection of the crime scene, which suggests that the RCMP did not want to gather evidence on who burned them.
  11. Someone I know who is also a determined, peaceful and mature anti-fracking activist and environmentalist, was appalled by the mere thought that someone might think we burned the cars. She told the RCMP she had quite a good look at the person who set the cars on fire, and did not recognize him as one of “us,” but knew what he looked like. The action angered her so much, his image was burned in her memory. She offered to look at any photos the RCMP had, to try to identify the person in question. She waited many months for the RCMP to come back with photos, during which time her offer was not taken up.
  12. Much noise is still being made by apparently pro-climate change politicians and security forces that the burning of these cars is our work and demonstrates how dangerous my allies and I are. No charges were ever laid against the arsonists who lit these cars on fire. In general, in regards to the events of October 17th, so much public effort and resources went into getting a few convictions on public mischief and dangerous handling of weapons, etc. If it had actually been possible to argue that some of us burnt those cars, certainly charges would have been laid.

Unscrupulous Slander and Chicanery

To celebrate the National Day of Action Against Bill C-51 on March 14th, I will be speaking my mind in a forum where I hope the truth might have some impact. I hope some of you will decide to join me…

I am going to a public meeting of the independent federal agency that is mandated to investigate and report on public complaints against the RCMP. The “Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP” received several public complaints about the actions of the RCMP during the anti-fracking protests in Kent County in 2013. In the middle of their investigation, on December 17, 2014, the Commission’s Chair initiated his own complaint to into the RCMP response. In response to community requests, the Commission is sponsoring public meetings in Eastern New Brunswick. We can voice concerns and ask questions about this particular investigation…

At this meeting I will raise a few points about the content, insinuations, omissions, quality and intent of top-secret intelligence reporting by the RCMP, using this leaked or planted report as my case example. I will call the attention of the Commission staff to:

  • the report’s unfounded and unproven, controversial accusation that our grassroots unified non-violent environmental protection movement somehow caused the riot, violence and burning of the police cars on October 17th;
  • this “leaked” report’s total reliance on pro-petroleum industry sources for supporting material;
  • the biases and ignorance evident throughout this report, especially in regards to the RCMP’s climate change denialism:
  • my concerns this denialism is a strong indicator that Canada’s security forces are hugely unprepared to assist the most vulnerable part of the general public (those of us in rural and low income regions and in Indigenous communities) from the unfolding onslaught of climate change-based natural disasters.

The Commission has a legislated mandate to recommend education, training and policy changes to RCMP management, in order that the RCMP might improve how they protect and serve the public.

Our own police force, that we pay for with our tax money, and on whom we must rely in emergency situations, should not be involved in activities that are designed to discredit and criminalize people like us. We are simply trying to protect what remains of the natural environment that sustains all life on our planet. Above and beyond all other considerations, we must protect our right to be vocal and active in human society on these matters. I have a special interest in this, but so do we all.

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Please join me at this meeting:

Public Meeting of the Civilian Commission
Saturday, March 14 2015, starting at 1 pm
Bonar Law Memorial High School, Rexton NB
— stormdate: March 21, same time same place — 

GETTING READY to be “SLAPPED” AGAIN!

– credit: Daniel St. Louis –
me at river

“Activism is the rent I pay for being on this planet.” – Alice Walker

I am the daughter of two great science fiction authors, prominent from back in the day when sci-fi was truly a prophetic voice of social criticism and environmental portent.  Much of their generation’s work focused on the destructive nature of certain types of human society and activity, and how humans’ prejudices and attitudes interfere with banding together to protect our Mother Earth. So I was raised to be an activist or a writer, or both.

For the record, I was involved in a lot of unified, non-violent earth-protection (aka “protest”) activity in 2013 here in Kent County. I also was not involved in a lot of what happened, because I work a fulltime unrelated job and need to sleep and eat sometimes. But I almost always knew what has going on and where. And I trust that my allies were all determined to protest non-violently. Our goal was to prevent shale gas fracking from destroying our drinking water, the health of people in our diverse communities, the value of our properties, and the natural environment that sustains us all.

KENT NOT FOR SHALE
– credit: Brian Branch –

RCMP Secret Report on anti-Canadian petroleum activists

Thanks to the recently leaked RCMP report: Anti-Petroleum Extremists Threat to Government & Industry (dated January 24, 2014, but only leaked last month), I am now apparently part of a “highly organized and well-financed anti-Canadian petroleum movement.” Without even a penny for my efforts and with full accord from all my fellow activists that we were only using non-violent strategies, I am accused of taking part in the “most violent anti-petroleum protest to date.” I am therefore one of a collective of “extremists who pose a realistic criminal threat to Canada’s petroleum industry, its workers and assets, and to first responders.”

If for no other reason, it is worth reading this top secret RCMP report to see how dinosaurs might have been thinking – or failing to reason — just before they went extinct.

Two Worlds Colliding: Climate Change “asserters” vs.  Climate Change “denialists”

The RCMP report is completely wrong-headed. They miss the point entirely. On pages 1 and 2 of RCMP report (see link above) it is stated that activists like me “assert” that “climate change is now the most serious global environmental threat.” Point taken: yes! It is also true that “extremists” like me “believe” that “climate change is a direct consequence of elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions… directly linked to the continued use” by human beings, and dirty mining technologies “of fossil fuels” industries.

Anyone who has lived through recent Canadian “unusual” and “extreme” weather “events” can see we are rocketing towards the brink of ecological disaster.  Peer-acclaimed global expert scientists agree: see Climate Change 2014: Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.  The IPCC Summary Report states:

“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history… Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2010… Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.”

The RCMP report never acknowledges the valid science contained in this IPCC report. Instead, the RCMP persistently couches any reference to climate change as an “assertion” or “belief,” inferring that we (activists, earth protectors) are not being rational.

Given the RCMP’s significant omission of valid science on the core cause of our protests, their position is discernibly climate change denialist. In fact, the impact of fossil fuel extraction from tar sands and through shale gas fracking does directly contribute in geometric proportions to climate change. Along with a host of related issues, like wanting to protect ourselves from this extreme industrial pollution, this is why we protested and will do so again if need be.

Enter Bill C-51

Bill C-51 is the knock-out punch for troublemakers like me, or so they seem to hope. The government says this Bill is about stopping terrorism, but in fact Bill C-51 is really about stripping indigenous rights activists and environmental protectors of all our charter guarantees and other rights established by case law precedent. As you can hear in Evan Solomon’s Power & Politics show (cue to 1:43:20), the Bill proposes to make it possible to arrest people like me, my Anglo and Acadian neighbours, and my Mi’kmaq allies.

kopit flag
– credit: Gerry LeBlanc –

Bill C-51 is being rammed through federal parliament when this blog is being posted. It will ensure that natural resource extraction industries face no impediments  Federal scientists have already been terminated or muzzled. Experimental research facilities that could produce information that might provoke concern about the deteriorating state of our environment have been closed. Literacy funding is all but gone, so many Canadians will never have the chance to inform themselves on environmental and human rights issues. The entire country has been stripped of all substantive environmental law protections in previous omnibus federal bills. Now, Bill C-51 will mop up the resistors. This will cement profit options for the 1%, as science fiction-style “sacrifice zones” abound throughout resource-laden, rural, indigenous, regions of Canada.

In 2013, we Earth Protectors were right!

In 2013 here, many earth protectors were harassed and arrested. We were not conspirators. We were seldom coordinated or even organized. We are simply a spontaneous unity of diverse grassroots people whose common interest is to protect our One Earth for ALL future generations.  Some of us were actually charged. Some of those charged were convicted of relatively minor offences. The most severe punishment was handed out to indigenous activists, who had doubly valid reasons for objecting to the development.

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The over-the-top, 9.5M$, and too often brutal, RCMP response to our legitimate protests lasted for seven months and terrorized most local residents. I say legitimate because for several years we had complained that government had not done enough prior research and consultation. This background checking should have been done before the leases were signed with Big Oil & Gas. In the September 2014 provincial election, shale gas was the core issue. A new government was elected. After admitting that more research and consultation is needed on fracking, they imposed a moratorium on shale gas industrial development. If many of us had not risked arrest for NON-VIOLENT protest that obstructed SWN’s activity, experimental fracking development would already be underway here in Signigtog Mi’kma’ki region. Governments can make mistakes: this is why non-violent protest is such an essential human right.

Old-style Corporate SLAPP lawsuit

Going back to when the protests were still underway, in October 2013, I was named in the initial SLAPP suit by SWN Resources Canada. SLAPP suits were designed a few decades back, by soulless corporate hot-shot lawyers to scare people who are identified as protest ring-leaders. SLAPP suits name key organizers as responsible for loss of money to the corporation and threaten to seize personal assets to recover these costs. SLAPP suits come with an injunction that says we have to stop being environmental protectors while the matter wends its way through the courts, or face arrest.

In this 2013 civil action, I am accused of being part of a collective of activists who did all sorts of dreadful things that obstructed their progress, and cost the company a huge amount of money. In my Statement of Defence I refute all their allegations. Actually, SWN’s losses arise from government incompetence: allowing the company to begin exploration work when the government had not done proper prior environmental review and informed consultation processes. The matter is still before the courts: I still could lose what little I own to help the fifth largest Oil & Gas company in North America recover its losses on this job.

SWN
– credit: Mike Constable –

Big Oil & Gas, governments of the day, RCMP secret report-writing consultants, and other climate change denialists realize that the tired old corporate SLAPP suit strategy is not working well any more. Persons being SLAPPED are supposed to get so scared that we shut up, go home, and turn on the sit-coms. It did not work with me. Like many of my neighbours, I am poor.  Most of us have little to lose through a suit like this. All of us have a lot to lose by having our drinking water and garden soil contaminated, our rural homes and communities transformed into a mega-industrial zone, and then our district left gasping and dead when the fracked gas dries up in a very few years.

The Corporatocracy that is actually running Canada is increasingly anxious: so many emerging economic indicators seem to support a shift away from fossil fuels, and in favour of prioritizing action on climate change. Even former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, now Bank of England Governor, has warned that “fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change,” and he has “called for investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions.”  Ouch! Carney’s concern about climate change must have hurt the Big Boys when it hit the wires services. Also, the Supreme Court of Canada clearly ruled in the Tsilhqo’tin decision that Canadian governments cannot use or alter indigenous territory or resources in such a way so that future generations of First Nations people cannot exercise their rights or enjoy the lands and the benefits that flow” from this territory. Because the understanding of indigenous territory was also transformed through this decision, is clear that Original Peoples have the right to assert sovereign control IF something threatens their traditional territories, when the Crown’s obligation of free, informed, and prior consent has not been met.

In the face of all this, the Canadian Corporatocracy needed a tool that might actually stop this grassroots movement to bring back the future. Instead of doing what we ask – nix on further fossil fuel development, and full speed ahead investment into renewables and sustainable industrial development – they decided to come up with this government SLAPP suit approach.

Bill C-51: a SLAPP suit approach on steroids

In the Evan Solomon interview, Mi’kmaq lawyer Dr. Pam Palmater calls this agenda the “Trojan Horse” of Bill C-51.  Under Bill C-51 provisions, instead of the corporation threatening to take away what we own, now we will be subject to a law-of-the-land that criminalizes protest to protect our homes, drinking water, communities, health, and surrounding environment. This proposed legislation will make a target of environmentalists concerned with climate change and other petroleum industry side-effects such as ruined water, air and land, as well indigenous rights activists whose territory is “needed” as sacrifice zones for the industry. Worst of all will be those of us who straddle both activisms: here in Signigtog, that means me and my close allies.

Ed's poster
 credit: Ed Kwong –

It won’t work. I am a mother and grandmother and I want to protect what is left of our environment for future generations. Most of my allies are guided by the same intense motivation. A recent gathering in Halifax confirmed that Indigenous activists opposing Energy East don’t fear proposed anti-terror bill. It will simply clog up the courts.

But it does not matter that it will not work. As with the corporate SLAPP action, the Bill C-51 SLAPP approach is not really designed to win. Its intent is to hamstring key activists with lengthy, extensive and expensive legal battles. Eventually, when a case finally reaches there, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) will uphold our human rights and the law will have to be changed. There seems to be just one little problem with pinning our hopes on the SCC…  I hope I am mistaken in this, but I also understand that Bill C-51 allows people to be held for exceptional periods of time without a charge. I imagine it would be difficult to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court without a charge first being laid and heard before the courts.

Civilain Commission investigates RCMP conduct in 2013 NB anti-fracking protests

Right here, close to home, the Civilian Commission is investigating the actions of the RCMP during the anti-fracking protests here in Kent County in 2013. In addition to many other matters, the Civilian Commission has been speaking with complainants who say that RCMP actions, policies, planning, and internal directions are directly responsible for the violence that took place in Signigtog region of Mi’kma’ki (Kent County, NB). This investigation will produce a report that offers a glimpse into the climate change denialist and fossil fuel boostering backrooms of Canadian governments and their handmaiden RCMP troops. By clicking here, you can find the Notice of March 14-15-16 Meetings of Civilian Commission into 2013 RCMP Activities (it can take a while to load). These will be held in Rexton, in Saint Louis, and then in Moncton, and storm dates are provided.

I hope many of us are able to get out to these meetings. This is your entry point to meet the Commission staff and arrange to share what we saw and/or experienced in the woods and on the roads in 2013, re: oppression of non-violent dissent to protect our environment. It would be wonderful if some of you have time to read through the leaked RCMP report. You could make use of the opportune timing of these meetings to counter some lies told about us and our allies.

We have only one planet. My allies and I are very determined: we will do our best to keep it as habitable as possible.

membership image
 credit: Nancy Alcox –

In Unity for All Future Generations – Granny Annie

NBASGA letter to Minister Danny Soucy – re: AIS EIA application 1390, to dump fracking waste water in Dieppe

New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance, Inc.
jimemberger@yahoo.com

September 1, 2014
Hon. Danny Soucy, Minister of Environment and Local Government
Marysville Place, P O Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
danny.soucy@gnb.ca

Re: EIA Application 1390

Dear Minister Soucy:

I am writing on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA ) to comment on the application for Environmental Impact Assessment review by Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS). The proponent proposes to dispose of “flowback” waste water from unconventional hydraulic “fracking” operations into the sewer system that serves Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview. From there it will travel into the Petitcodiac River, and subsequently disperse into the Bay of Fundy, travelling up and down with the tides until eventually it flows out of the Bay.

I will mention a few overarching points and then raise a number of issues that are of major concern to the many New Brunswickers who are part of NBASGA. For more information about NBASGA and what we stand for, I invite you to view our website at http://www.noshalegasnb.ca/.

1.  Under the Clean Environment Act – Regulation 87-83, specifically Schedule A; Undertakings 87-108.m, there appears to be an absolute requirement – i.e. an automatic trigger by legislation – for a full, public Comprehensive EIA Review in regards to any industrial project that includes a waste disposal system.

2.  I realize your department is at a preliminary stage with Application 1390, but so far your department has not been forthcoming about engaging the multiple parties that would be brought into this comprehensive public review. It is my understanding that the City of Dieppe only received a copy of the proponent’s proposal from a concerned private citizen, about two months after the application was filed with your department. Further it is my understanding that the communities of Moncton and Riverview, who share a water/sewage system with Dieppe, only learned about Application 1390 from the media coverage of the August Dieppe City Council meeting where this was discussed. These procedural shortcomings suggest a reluctance to fully disclose to key partners, which is not at all in the spirit of the legislation.

3. Please take this as official notice that NBASGA wants to be involved and informed at every stage of this application. We look forward to having some of our following questions and concerns addressed through the mandated Comprehensive EIA Review process.

4.  Something does not add up properly: the proposed facility has only been granted a six month license to operate in this location, while the proposal calls for approximately three years of work. It has been said that this facility was out of operation for a period of time before Application 1390 was developed. To address public concerns, more information is required on the equipment at the site, the operational condition of the facility at the site, and the reason the licence is only valid until November 6, 2014.

Now I will turn to other details that are of great concern to NBASGA members.

5.  What are the Government of New Brunswick’s standards, processes and technology for assessing and monitoring the accumulation of low-level radioactivity and/or toxicity in bodies of water to which industrial effluent has been added? Please point us in the direction of these standards or if they are not yet in place, please advise when they will be.

6.  Apparently, there has never been any independent testing of the supposedly “treated” wastewater that is being held in Nova Scotia, as AIS awaits a decision on this application. AIS always took the samples and submitted the samples themselves.  The history of dealing with the troublesome wastewater produced by fracking is replete with examples of companies evading or breaking regulatory requirements. NBASGA is not accusing AIS of any such actions, but we note that the history of this wastewater shows that the company did not initially disclose the nature of radioactive and toxic contents of wastewater to the municipal sewage treatment systems with whom it was working in Nova Scotia. Will New Brunswick authorities require an independent, arms-length third party retest of this water prior to the application being approved to begin transporting it to Dieppe?

7.  How can we be certain that the chemicals being tested by AIS or anyone else constitutes the complete list of chemicals used in those particular fracking operation mixtures that created this wastewater?

♦  First, trade secrets often overrule public interest, so that the precise cocktail of chemicals used is often unknown to anyone but the fracking company.

♦  Second, when chemicals combine they can often combine to become something else, perhaps more sinister than the original compounds.

  Third, from the document, OUT OF CONTROL: Nova Scotia’s Experience with Fracking for Shale, we see that of the chemicals that were identified by AIS many have toxic or carcinogenic properties.

•  Of the 22 identified chemicals used in Hants County: two are known to adversely affect reproduction; eight are potential mutagens; eight are potential carcinogens; and eleven have the potential to cause adverse effects to ecological integrity.

•  Of the 31 identified products (chemical mixtures) used in Hants County: five are associated with adverse effects on reproduction; five contain potential mutagens; eight contain potential carcinogens; and eight can cause adverse ecological impacts.

•  In the five years that this water has been sitting open to the elements in Nova Scotia holding ponds, the chemicals have been diluted by water, potentially mixed with other wastewater or had time to break down. Is the complete list of fracking chemicals originally in the wastewater known? Are they toxic? Have any combined to form new hazardous compounds?

 How will the province of New Brunswick assure the public that the complete composition of all chemicals in each load of wastewater is known prior to its transport, and that the proponent actually has the industrial capacity to treat and remove all these dangerous substances from that load of wastewater?

8.  On standards and radioactivity: One reason why Nova Scotia originally refused the wastewater was due to the level of radioactivity. Dieppe has no standards for radioactivity in its by-laws. Canadian federal standards have not been updated for decades although more stringent guidelines are coming into effect for municipal treatment plant shortly – raising the additional question of will the water still meet the stipulations of those guidelines? If not, what happens then? While regulations have not kept pace, during recent decades much scientific research has been done on the negative cumulative effects of low-level radiation. Peer reviewed studies done in Pennsylvania have found that treated fracking wastewater often still exceeded US radioactivity standards.  What will New Brunswick do in terms of research and testing to address these concerns?

9.  What went wrong in Nova Scotia and why is there such urgency for disposal? In the EIA application, the rationale for the project hinges on the holding ponds at Debert being full, and AIS being uncertain of the success of an experimental project which saw two million litres diverted for “incineration” at a NS cement plant in NS. As they have completed the test of two million litres, should we assume the urgency to dispose of water in Dieppe means this was unsuccessful? We can guess that the two million litres delivered by AIS to the Lafarge Cement Kiln at Brookfield for experimental disposal apparently did not work as planned, as Lafarge didn’t take any more.  Does this mean that it could not be scrubbed of hazardous chemicals even using this process? Why did this experiment not work? Is the reason the same as the reason that Nova Scotia municipalities continue to refuse to accept the wastewater? This is important information that must be disclosed so that the public can feel a reasoned decision is being made based on good science. Also, has the urgency of this request and the amounts of wastewater actually been verified?

  If the wastewater contains any contaminants or radioactivity, the tidal bore would take some of the waste upriver as far as Salisbury and leave any radioactive particles or residue chemicals in the muddy banks along the way. The same situation applies to downriver.  Halls Creek and all tidal streams will be affected. As the process continues, any chemicals and radioactive particles will gradually accumulate over time, becoming more toxic and threatening aquatic life. All these communities and the people who live in them are entitled to the full disclosure and engagement process offered by a Comprehensive EIA Review.

  Who will pay? Some of these tests take several weeks, and that is just one factor that makes the essential independent, arms length testing expensive. So, of course as taxpayers, we would like to know who will pay for it? Keeping things safe costs a lot of money, so there is a lot of incentive for companies to do as little as possible and to weaken regulations as much as possible. That is why we must remain cautious and vigilant.

  Protecting the unique Bay of Fundy environment, on which many, many Maritimers rely for their livelihood: We believe that The Nova Scotia Department of Environment stated that they would not approve release of wastewater to an aquatic environment until tests had been done in the particular environment in question, which in this case is the Bay of Fundy. Clearly N.S. had its reasons for saying this, so I ask if your government has undertaken or commissioned such testing?

 In view of all the serious issues we have raised, we ask that you immediately make the determination to require Proposal 1390 to undergo a full, public Comprehensive EIA Reviewed due to the human health and environmental considerations arising from the intended activity.

We also ask that you invite the Chief Medical Officer of Health or her departmental designate to join this Comprehensive EIA Review as a lead partner. We make this request because of the very deep concerns she expressed about human health impacts of these industrial effluents, and the province’s capacity shortfall to deal with this matter, in her report Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (October 2012).

Thank you for your consideration of these points. NBASGA looks forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely yours,

Jim Emberger, Spokesman,  New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

copied to:

  • Scott Sangster, Director of Health, Safety & Environment, Envirosystems (AIS) SSangster@envirosystems.ca
  • Gary Drescher, Project Manager, Dillon Consulting GDrescher@dillon.ca
  • Shawn Hamilton, Project Manager, Environmental Assessment Section, Department of Environment and Local Government Shawn.Hamilton@gnb.ca
  • Dr. Eilish Cleary, NB Chief Medical Officer of Health Eilish.Cleary@gnb.ca
  • Karen White, Director, Healthy Environments, Health Karen.White@gnb.ca
  • Hon. David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick David.Alward@gnb.ca
  • Hon. Craig Leonard, Minister of Energy and Mines Craig.Leonard@gnb.ca
  • Stephanie Merrill, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, water@conservationcouncil.ca
  • Anita Cannon Conservation Council NB Southeast, ccnbsoutheast@gmail.com
  • Margo Sheppard, Council of Canadians, Fredericton, NTNB1@bellaliant.net
  • Angela Giles, Council of Canadians Atlantic Region, agiles@canadians.org

also copied to Moncton Municipal Government:

also copied to Dieppe Municipal Government:

also copied to Riverview Municipal Government:

also copied to Members of NBASGA (shaleinfo.nb@gmail.com):

  • Clean Energy Sussex
  • Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis
  • Cornhill and Area Residents Assn
  • Council of Canadians, Saint John
  • Darlings Island
  • Kent South No Shale Gas
  • Hampton Water First
  • Memramcook Action
  • Notre Environnement, Notre Choix
  • Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance
  • Sustainable Energy Group
  • Tantramar Alliance Against Hydro-Fracking
  • Taymouth Environmental Action
  • Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance
  • Upriver Environment Watch
  • Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County

1st Newsletter from the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

GREETINGS FROM SIGNIGTOG MI’KMA’KI,
aka Kent County New Brunswick 

 elsi flag

THANK YOU, WELALIEK

The initial tour to start building a national network to support the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Challenge was a great success. Many allies helped find space, publicize, and support the 4-city “Report from the Eastern Door” tour (Jan 5-9/15)​. Designed to share information about what has been happening down here ​with grassroots community environmental protectors, activists and defenders in central Canada, the tour was organized spontaneously in just a couple weeks.

Special Thanks, Chi Miigwetch, Nai’wen to organizational and network allies​ who helped so much: Toronto Friends Peace & Social Action Committee (The Quakers), ​Dan & Mary Lou Smoke of Smoke Signals Radio Show, First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University, Kawartha & Peterborough Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group, Nibi Emosaawdamajig: Those Who Walk for the Water, Council of Canadians National Office, KAIROS, Amnesty International Canadian Section, Chez Boris Cafe, and Montreal Allies Against Fracking.

Ottawa Presentation

The presentation dates (Jan 5 -9) coincided with a bitter cold spell in Ontario and Quebec, but still about 150 hardy people from many different activist backgrounds attended the talks. More than half of attendees signed our contact sheet to stay in touch with us. Other terrific outcomes included interest by alternative media (Toronto and Montreal) and local media (Peterborough), as well as free will donations of $792.  $687 went into the legal fund account, which is being managed pro bono by Council of Canadians for us. ​The remaining $105 collected went towards the costs of printing our new ​​IMW Fund promotional stickers.​​

If you are one of the people ​who came to the​se meetings without cash and are looking for ​info on h​ow to contribute to our Legal Fund, there are two ways:

  1. online through Pay Pal at Elsipogtog, N.B – Legal Action Fund
  2. by snail mail, send a cheque/money-order to “Council of Canadians” at 300-251 Bank St, Ottawa ON K2P 1X3 — but please remember it is *IMPORTANT* to  write “For the IMW Peace & Friendship Fund” on the back or note line of your cheque or money order, so your donation goes into our trust account

​The IMW Legal Fund coordinators, grandmothers Serena Francis and Ann Pohl, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council of Canadians regarding this fund. This MOU specifies financial accountability and ​ensures that all monies held in trust for us ​by COC will be used ONLY for legal fund costs. ​All funds donated to the PayPal account are cleared into the COC trust fund account.  You can be confident that any donation you make will be used ​ONLY ​for this legal challenge.  ​If you have any questions about the fund, you can email Serena or Ann at imw.legalfund@gmail.com

ABOUT THE IMW PHILOSOPHY
​IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu.”  These Mi’kmaq words can be understood ​in English to mean ​”Protecting the Earth for Future ​Generations. 
kopit flag
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are working together in this campaign. We are all Treaty People. We will all benefit from ensuring that those who care about the environment are in an “official” position to best protect our one air, one water, and one earth for ALL future generations.

The 4-City tour was organized by allies of the IMW Legal Challenge at Elsipogtog, which has a welcoming community centre called Kopit Lodge. Kopit means beaver in Mi’kmaq — beavers ​​♥ the water and want it protected! You can find Kopit Lodge on Facebook, and send a request to join the group. The Lodge is open to All Peoples as a safe space, a talking place, an organizing center, a guest home for activist allies, and a place to share food and enjoy peace and friendship.

EVERY STOP ON THE TOUR ATTRACTED DIFFERENT PARTICIPANTS & QUESTIONS

There were lots of questions about the ​recent events here, ​in which so many grassroots ​people put their bodies on the line to ​protect our natural environment and communities from deep shale fracking. Many positive messages were shared:
AT LAST THE “WINDS OF CHANGE: ARE BLOWING IN NB… 
​​The startling new unity of grassroots Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Acadian and Anglophone NBers has completely shaken the power structure in this provincial colony​. New Brunswick region has been dominated and oppressed since first contact by natural resource barons​ who use their corporate tentacles, off-shore tax havens​, private security forces, and political handmaidens to maintain tight control. Up to now, the barons commonly use their economic power to determine who has work and who does not, and they also have a huge media monopoly.  ​(See: Irvings Stranglehold​ on​ New​ BrunswickDid You Hear About the Irvings?and Inside the Irving Media Monopoly.) 
Ed's poster
​We are not stopping now…​ ​As explained at each presentation, the pre-Confederation Peace & Friendship Treaties never surrendered territory or resources to the Crown. At least two New Brunswick First Nation communities ​are preparing to launch court challenge​s ​based on the Crown’s failure to (a) sustainably manage the region`s natural resources ​and (b) protect the environment for future generations.

This is urgent in order to protect the natural environment for ALL future generations. Fracking is not the only environmental disaster threatening NB: virtually as soon as our underground is disturbed there is radioactive waste to deal with due to extensive uranium deposits; there are mega-mines in the works; add on a devastating new forestry policy and the proposed pipeline; and, of course, we are all witnessing the reality of climate change roll in, so the time for massive investment in renewable energies (not fossil fuels) is NOW….

On the fracking front, there are already two court challenges with different but allied emphases underway: the NB Anti-Shale Gas Alliance “Science Case Against Fracking, and the “Frack Back Peoples Lawsuit“. One of the most remarkable strengths we have as a united grassroots movement is that sparse population and a do-it-yourself attitude has empowered us all to become leaders and take action when needed, Our networking (often by word-of-mouth) has made it possible to call others out to support on short notice. As long as the action proposed is truly non-violent, if someone builds it, support will come.
​.
SIGNIGTOG IS GETTING READY!
It is so important to emphasize this: the government starts out in a weak position under the law because the region’s resources and territory were NEVER surrendered in the Peace and Friendship Treaties! Repeat: nothing has been surrendered since first contact.
mi'mak'ki
Governments ​have a “duty to consult​,” and related duties to inform, accommodate, and obtain consent, but the courts have said that sitting down to talk (consult) is a “reciprocal duty.” As lawyer​s have told us, governments ​often like to argue in court that FNs ​have frustrated consultation (e.g. by refusing to meet, not responding to communications, etc.​) and courts sometimes listen to this argument sympathetically, so FNs can be vulnerable to these types of arguments if they don’t participate in consultation. In short, if you don`t play the game, you can`t win. Last week, ​Elsipogtog elder Kenneth Francis, a founding member of the IMW Legal Fund​, convened a “Town Hall” style meeting on this very​ controversial topic​. The meeting addressed seven main points:
  1. viewing what consultation should be like, how it should work
  2. review of our experiences and reports regarding past “consultations”
  3. acknowledging the conflicts of interest and lack of accountability by AFNNB Inc. chiefs (for more info on this, please ask)
  4. discussing our need to control this process
  5. suggestions on how to control this process
  6. proposal to elect delegates for this process
  7. planning to meet again in a week
Elsi community members who want to protect the environment ​have expressed concern about being dragged into a process they might not be able to control. Some fear this could make things worse as governments might then do what they want, saying the people had been “consulted.”
Imelda
Ken assured people that going into a consultation ​process ​does not mean ​you will ever agree to give up anything.  ​Consultative meetings can be just as readily used to explain why nothing will be given up — but, the key is to be prepared…  It was emphasized that the grassroots people can and must control this business of consultation, which means designating a team of trusted and capable people to speak on behalf of the community for each, every, and all consultations​. This team will be recognized by chief and council and the province as the legitimate delegates for consultation, and the team will maintain their strength and legitimacy with frequent reports back to the grassroots public in meetings such as this one held last week. This is how the Tsilhqo’tin people stayed confident in, and supportive of. lead plaintiff Roger William throughout the duration of that lengthy legal challenge that has won important precedents to benefit their community and others. Ken believes the same system of trust, representation and genuine accountability can work here in Signigtog.
whole signplaque on sign (text) smaller
LEGAL PROTECTION FOR CONSULTATION & COURT CHALLENGE  
The Elsi ​negotiation team ​will be in the strongest position imaginable going into consultations with representation from lawyer Bruce McIvor and his firm First People’s Law​.​ Here is what one First Nation community leader says about Bruce’s indigenous law practice:  ​​
First Peoples Law is committed to participating in the public discussion on Aboriginal title, rights and Treaty rights. Our community’s challenges are stubborn and complicated so we’ve got lots and lots of experience with all kinds of lawyers.  But, where others have made assumptions, Bruce listens.  Where others have seen complications, Bruce has seen potential solutions. Bruce’s knowledge and perspective are absolutely essential to the successes of our community-based strategy team — and he’s willing to get out on the land too.  – Chief Erwin Redsky, Shoal Lake #40 First Nation 
​.
CAN YOU REACH INTO YOUR POCKET? 
Bruce has given us a lot of pro bono support over the past many months. We are collecting pledges now, and expect to have the cash to formally retain him in the next few weeks. A start was made in this 4-City tour at raising the cost of Bruce’s next trip here (as soon after he is retained as possible). If you can possibly see clear to give us a boost right now for that important strategic meeting, please see the links above.  

If you or your group can sponsor an event 
to raise awareness and funds 
for the IMW legal challenge, 
we would love to hear about it and support it!
This blogspace is used for outgoing messages only, so if you want to comment or need more info and to make contact for some other reason, here are our coordinates: imw.legalfund@gmail.com249 Main St., Elsipogtog NB E4W-2X2,
506-785-2998 
No`kmaq — We are all related.

Resistance & Survival: Report from the Eastern Door

Ed's posterHISTORIC ALLIANCES AND
BUILDING NETWORKS:
where environmental protection &
honouring indigenous rights intersect

Now you can get a first-hand account from the east coast’s #anti-fracking, #rexton, #elsipogtog 2013 hot spots. It ain’t over yet and no one is giving up. Start off the New Year attending one of these upcoming meetings — additional dates can be added…

TORONTO MEETING:
Monday, JANUARY 5, 2015,  7 – 9 pm

Friends Meeting House, 60 Lowther Avenue
Sponsor: Toronto Friends Peace & Social Action Committee

PETERBOROUGH MEETING:
Wednesday, January 7, 2015, 7 PM start
Gathering Space, FPHL Room 103, Gzowski College, Trent University
Sponsors: 
First Peoples House of Learning at Trent, Kawartha & Peterborough Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group, and Nibi Emosaawdamajig: Those Who Walk for the Water

OTTAWA MEETING:
Thursday, JANUARY 8, 2015,  7 – 10 pm
25One Community Space, 251 Bank Street
Sponsor: Council of Canadians

MONTREAL MEETING:
Friday, JANUARY 9, 2015, 7 PM start
Chez Boris Cafe, 5151 Parc Ave
Sponsor: Friends of NB Anti-Fracking Movement
   and Allies of Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation 

WELCOME TO ALL
Free will donations gratefully accepted.
For info or to set up an additional meeting: imw.legalfund@gmail.com 

installing sign

plaque on sign (text) smaller

All of Maritime Canada is covered by the pre-Confederation “Peace and Friendship” Treaties, in which no territory was surrendered. Recently, the peaceful determination of All Peoples to protect their communities and livelihoods from getting “FRACKED” united with local Idle No More activists who are reclaiming their original territories for sacred caretaking.

This historic unity grew to outstanding proportions in 2013. elsipogtog-ossie-michelin-protest-photoThe world watched as New Brunswick’s and Canada’s officialdom moved to crush it. For a recap of our history-making grassroots movement, see this Backgrounder for the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

These Reports from the Eastern Door will be done by popular educator and human rights activist Ann Pohl, who is known to Ontarians from the Ipperwash Coalition, Turtle Island Support Group, Coalition for the Advancement of Aboriginal Studies, etc. She has been living in Kent County NB for the past 10 years, a stop frackingrural region where most people rely on the natural environment for subsistence. Kent County is at the heart of the Sixth District of Mi’kmaki, Signigtog. All of Signigtog is ground zero for the fracking industry and their cronies in government and industry. SIgnigtog is also home territory for NB’s largest Mi’kmaq First Nation: Elsipogtog.

photo of meA grandmother, Ann is a founding member of Upriver Environment Watch. Last October, she was named in a SLAPP suit by the fracking corporation, SWN Resources Canada.
She is currently working with local Mi’kmaq elders to bring a legal challenge to court, to protect the natural environment for the sake of all future generations. Fundraising is just getting underway for the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund. IMW stands for Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu.”  These Mi’kmaq words can be understood to mean Protecting the Earth for Future Generations.

Ann brings her peaceful and committed frontline perspective to this presentation, as well as her decades of experience in solidarity movements. There will be time for questions, and for comments on how these historic happenings connect to broader non-violent environmental protection movements. We will also discuss the strategic actions, networking and other support needed by frontline rural activists, especially the Peoples of the Eastern Door.elsi flag

The IMW Request Letter provides more info on one of Ann’s current solidarity projects. For information about Ann’s recent environmental protection work and Upriver Environment Watch,  take a look at other blogs on this space, or email upriverwatch@gmail.com.

Investigation into RCMP Response to Kent County NB Anti-Fracking Protests, June – December, 2013


firekeeper arrrest bleeding mouth

Two weeks ago, I met with Bill Brydon and Gord Barnett, the investigators contracted by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to look into the issues about policing during last year’s antifracking protests here in Kent County NB – here is the Commission’s June 2014 annual report saying this investigation is ongoing.

This is a lot like a lottery: its unlikely you will win, but for sure you cannot win if you don’t buy a ticket! Yes, I agree with critics who say that this Public Interest Investigation into RCMP activities may not resolve anything. But, if we don’t come forward with the information on all the harm, abuses, violations, and other damage done by the RCMP, there is NO CHANCE at all that anything can change in how the RCMP “handle” protests like ours.

I saw this as my opportunity to tell them about some of the human rights violations I witnessed, as well as things the police did NOT do, like look into abuses by the company or their contractors when they should have, etc.

I found Gord and Bill were interested ONLY in what I came to tell them, and they did not press me for personal details or attempt in any way to collect evidence against me or any of my allies. After they listened to me, they asked specific questions about what I saw the RCMP doing. They also seemed very focused and concerned about how this affected individual trust or respect for the RCMP as an organization.

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RCMP guarding Thumper

I went in with a lot of questions about:

  • the mandate for this investigation,
  • how the findings will be compiled and published,
  • if there will be an opportunity for comment on the proposals that come forward from this investigation, etc.

Most of my questions could not be answered by Bill or Gord, who are simply field-based information collectors. However, they forwarded my questions to the Commission’s Senior Reviewer/Analyst, Rosemary Morgan, who is responsible for the management of this Public Interest Investigation. In her response to my questions, Rosemary emphasized that “the opportunity to be heard is during the investigation interviews. Should you feel you have not been properly heard at that time, I encourage you to advise the investigators, or myself, at your earliest opportunity.” (Here is Rosemary Morgan’s email and her phone number is 613-952-1318.)

Here, following, are the answers to the questions I asked about this investigation. Perhaps this will help you decide whether or not to contact them and ask for a meeting to share your experiences during the protests.

  1. The Chair of the Commission decided to initiate a Public Interest Investigation in July 2013, after several public complaints about the RCMP’s response to the June 5, 2013 antifracking protest. The public complaints cumulatively made numerous allegations pertaining to RCMP use of force, attitude, arrests, searches, breach of protocols and failure to respect spiritual objects and practices, etc. In addition, one of the initial public complaints was from the Halifax Coalition Against Fracking, which was based upon a petition signed by 245 individuals. Since that time the Commission received about a dozen more complaints about the RCMP response in June, October, November and December 2013. These have been added to the Public Interest Investigation as well.Mikmaq-protest-Nov-14-e1384456554762
    elsipogtog-winter
  2. The investigators’ contracts may be secured (with personal information redacted) following an Application for Access to Information. If anyone wants to make that application, there are resources on-line. If anyone interested to do this finds the online info and the system difficult to navigate, Rosemary will try to assist.
  3. The mandate of the investigators (Bill Brydon and Gord Barnett) is to secure and review all information relevant to the complaints from the complainants, witnesses and RCMP members who are willing and able to speak with them. They will also interview the RCMP management responsible for the RCMP response to the protests. The Investigators do not make final findings or recommendations – they simply compile the information with their own observations, and then submit their “Investigation Report” to the Commission. Commission staff (Rosemary and a colleague of hers) will then review the investigation report.
  4. Gord and Bill are very senior investigators. For the most part, during their investigation they make their own determination of avenues of investigation, including whether or not to interview additional witnesses as additional information is gathered. If information not previously identified by the complainants or the RCMP disclosure is obtained during witness interviews, Gord & Bill will determine whether to conduct additional interviews or other forms of investigation. In any event, at the conclusion of their investigation they will provide the Commission with all information gathered, whether that information is referenced in their investigation report or not. All the information gathered will be reviewed by the Commission to assess the need for further investigation and in preparation of the Chair’s Final Report.
    man down ivan getting pepper-sprayed one more oct 17
    choking
    who is this man pic 1
    injured by nonlethal ammo
  5. Rosemary will make the investigation is complete, ie. if it meets the legal requirement of “reasonable thoroughness”. Generally, if further investigation is determined necessary on the basis of that legal standard, the Commission will arrange for further inquiries, either by retaining the investigators to make further inquiries, or retaining additional investigators, or sending a Commission employee who is trained and experienced in investigation.
  6. When no further investigation is deemed necessary, Rosemary will prepare a draft report for the Commission Chair’s consideration. The Chair will finalize the report with Findings and any Recommendations he deems fit, and it will be disclosed to the parties in accordance with Part VII of the RCMP Act (PART VII PUBLIC COMPLAINTS Receipt and Investigation of Complaints).
  7. Rosemary could not provide an anticipated release date. Until the investigators have completed all complainant and witness interviews, it will be impossible to assess the extent of the necessary RCMP interviews, which will be the next step for Bill and Gord. This has already taken a long time. The following factors have contributed to delay: the breadth of the complaints, the duration and extent of the events and the RCMP response. Before the investigators could start their public interviews, they had to review all the available RCMP information. After they read the “disclosed” RCMP reports (anything the RCMP makes available to them), then they started seeking out public witnesses. The breadth and seriousness of this matter has predictably led to a broadening of the number of potential witnesses, which broadens the Commission’s requests for relevant information from the RCMP, and they continue to receive new information from the RCMP and from complainants. They would very much like to wrap this up sometime during this winter, but until the investigators have completed all complainant and witness interviews, it will be impossible to assess the extent of the necessary RCMP interviews, which will be the next step.
  8. Each formal complainant, the Commissioner of the RCMP, RCMP members named in the complaints, and the Minister of Public Safety will receive a print copy of the Chair’s Final Report. The Commission does not send every witness a copy of the Chair’s Final Report. According to past practice, a bilingual and printable copy of the Report will be posted on the Commission’s website (via a link to the Canada.ca).
  9. Information provided by the complainants and witnesses, is not automatically provided to the RCMP. However, If information IS used in the assessment of the overall public interest investigation, it may be incorporated into the Chair’s final report, and ultimately released to the RCMP, and the public, in the Chair’s Final “Report Following the Public Interest Investigation into the conduct of the RCMP in New Brunswick in respect of matters involving the anti-shale protests in 2013”. RCMP members, complainants and witnesses, are treated the same. No one is given an opportunity to comment upon the Chair’s report before it is finalized, with the exception of the Commissioner of the RCMP, who is given that opportunity by right under the RCMP Act. However, anyone may write to the Chair following release of the report to comment upon the report or any other matter relating to the Public Interest Investigation. If, upon completion of the Chair’s report, you feel that there are factual errors, and you have information to correct the factual errors, you may contact the Commission; the Chair will review your submission.

My Comments:

As a result of both police activities and strategic police inaction we witnessed last year, the public has lost confidence, trust and respect for the RCMP. This is a major concern because the RCMP is the local police force in almost all of NB. These losses are due to the conduct of some RCMP members, as well as the overall tactical decisions and operations carried out by the force over many months.

support for  public inquiry

As Rosemary outlined the process to me (see bold text in my point #7 above), it became evident to me that the investigators begin with a review of all records voluntarily provided by the RCMP because this provides the investigators with a chronology of the action. HOWEVER, in my opinion, in this instance, this skeletal first “story” or “narrative” may have influenced the investigators to view the entire investigation in a faulty manner. A major complaint about the RCMP’s conduct last year is that they made this into a campaign against First Nations protestors from the get-go. In part, it was the educational community work by non-Natives that brought many Mi’kmaq People on side on the matter of the risks of shale gas development. In fact until the RCMP started targeting and brutalizing protestors, Anglos and Acadians were as deeply involved in the protests as the FN. Non-Natives remained deeply involved in the protests in various ways throughout the entire period.

Therefore, it is importan that the Commission’s investigators hear not ONLY from FN people, and that their outreach for witnesses should not happen ONLY in Elsipogtog First Nation. The RCMP started this by targeting their response to the protests against FN people, and this biased emphasis is reinforced by having public access to the interviewers only happen at Elsi.

1509225_10152144083755775_1560719470_n two lines june protest

MANY, MANY PEOPLE in all three founding cultural communities of Kent County, and indeed across New Brunswick, want to know that the authorities are looking into the serious issues we have witnessed. I have proposed to Rosemary Morgan that the Commission make their process more meaningful and inclusive, by convening one or more public meetings to explain the investigation’s basis, mandate and process to concerned citizens – and also provide some assistance to those who still want to file formal complaints. Rosemary has passed these requests up the ladder in the Commission, and perhaps there is a small chance that some such actions will be taken.

There is one earth, one water, and we are all in this together. There is widespread cross-cultural community concern about the role and actions of the RCMP. This is a crowded world. Our species needs the “rule of law,” human rights codes and guarantees, and policing systems we can trust in the complexity of negotiating how we all get along. Encouraging affected people to speak to the investigators could be a very important first step towards healing.

AM at protest

ABOUT THE RCMP RIOT, and those burning cars…
As It Happens speaks with Allan Marsh, the elected
Chair of the Local Service District for Saint-Charles, N.B.
He was at Thursday’s protests to support the anti-shale gas activists.

I want to encourage every one, who possibly can, to take the chance that this will actually do some “good.” Meet with the Commissioner’s Investigators: Gord Barnett <gordonabarnett@yahoo.ca> and Bill Brydon <bbrydon@commissionaires.ns.ca>, cell: 902-579-6410, and tell them what you saw and experienced and how this has affected you and those you know.

Backgrounder for IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

Backgrounder for IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund:
Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu
Protecting the Earth for Future Generations

PLEASE NOTE: This “Backgrounder” was written in July 2014.

…In September 2014, the Alward Conservative government of NB was replaced by the Gallant Liberal government, who PROMISED to bring in a moratorium on deep shale fracking. …Industry slowed to a crawl. …We all waited with bated breath. …On Dec 18, 2014, the new Premier of NB did that rarest of rare things — KEPT A REALLY DIFFICULT PROMISE!

Please see Shale gas moratorium details unveiled by Premier Brian Gallant.
There has been a huge amount of personal sacrifice, and there is still a WHOLE lot of work to do, but at least we have won a few major battles… The text below begins to explain how we got to this exciting point, and how we intend to ensure we continue winning the “war” to protect our environment for future generations.

One air, one water, one earth. No’kmaq — we are all related.
WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE,
learning what living in Peace & Friendship truly means in this crucial century. 

November 5, 2013 in Fredericton One of MANY protests at the provincial legislature.

The Government of New Brunswick (GNB) ignored more than three years of unprecedented unity of grassroots  Nov 11
opposition to development of the deep shale oil and gas industry. This opposition has included petitions, rallies, lobbying, information sessions, letters, erecting a Tepee on the grounds of the legislature, and much more. GNB has leased roughly one-quarter of the province to shale gas and oil companies, much of this in the more populated parts of NB.

Serious Health and Environmental Impacts

 In our view, shale gas mining cannot be done safely at the present time, and therefore should not be undertaken.

In other jurisdictions where “unconventional fracking” for deep shale fuel is extensive (like GNB plans) there have been many serious environmental and health impacts. In her peer-reviewed and acclaimed October 2012 report, Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary discusses these issues from a public health perspective.

A uniting concern is increasing evidence of the impacts of climate change due to release of gasses from fossil fuels during the shale gas mining process, as this report from the

The Government of New Brunswick has “stacked the deck” in favour of shale gas development.

To implement it uncritical support for this industry, GNB has ensured that meaningful public health and environmental protections is not possible. To start with, ass soon as the corporation has completed the leased exploration agreement, they can apply for a permit to do “exploratory” drilling. This includes building all infrastructure for production.

The “deck” is even more thoroughly stacked! GNB’s Environmental Impact Assessment process is being done in an unlegislated “phased” and intentionally rapid and minimalist manner, as described in this PowerPoint produced by GNB staff to introduce the “Phased Review” approach to “stakeholders”: Phased EIA – Oil & Gas – Stakeholder Meeting Jan 27 2011 (1) Following this procedure, it seems corporations escape any serious review until full commercial production is imminent.

GNB claims to have world-class policies to prevent the issues that this industry has spawned in other regions, but in fact GNB has only guidelines for industry (not legislated regulations) and no meaningful enforcement capacity.  Last year GNB allowed the corporation all variances they wanted, eg. to “explore” on wetlands and outside lease areas. As things stand, the industry will not even be required to pay any meaningful royalties on the resource.

“Idle No More” joins hand on “No Frack NB” issue

INM for IMWIn the winter of 2012-2013 the Idle No More movement birthed across Canada and in First Nation communities. The Elsipogtog community became energized in concern that fracking would lead to critical level plant destruction, water poisoning, and endangerment of all life.

Anglo and Acadian New Brunswickers, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Peoples, and many other diverse allies protected the environment from June-December 2013. During this time, Southwestern Energy (SWN Resources Canada) continued its shale gas exploration program with support from the provincial police force (RCMP), government of New Brunswick, private security forces, and the dominant NB industrial corporation (Irving) which also owns almost all media in the province.prayer sunrise

two linesjune protest   firekeeper arrrestbleeding mouth        116 crewemile on 126 childpoca pic   signs pic for IMW 2013 unity gathering

Government Fails to Uphold “Honour of the Crown” regarding the Mi’kmaq People of Elsopogtog

After failing at their treaty and constitutional responsibilities, provincial and federal governments sponsored a major show of force on October 17, 2013.  Many hundreds of innocent and peaceful people were hurt, criminalized, and traumatized for defending their homeland.

drummers n copsElsipogtog Chief and Councillorsivan getting pepper-sprayed

The Texas-based Southwestern Energy’s wholly owned Canadian subsidiary SWN Resources Canada completed its preliminary exploration in December 2013, in the face of continuing opposition.  At the present time, GNB is poised to approve four applications from SWN Resources Canada to build infrastructure wellpads and do initial drilling.

RCMP guarding ThumperMikmaq-protest-Nov-14-e1384456554762elsipogtog-winter

Working together with traditional Mi’kmaq Nation leadership, Elsipogtog Chief and Band Council took steps to try to prevent the disaster of fracking in their territory. These steps included:

  • Questioning the validity of the consultation process for which the Government of New Brunswick is constitutionally bound;
  • Sending letters of eviction to SWN Resources and all sub-contractors, signed by both traditional and elected leadership;
  • Making known that this land has not been ceded or surrendered to any other authority or government;
  • Passing a Band Council Resolution (BCR) to notify the Province, other agencies, and corporations that they are trespassing on such lands;
  • Direct reclaiming of the land, which was never ceded in the “Peace & Friendship” Treaties.

Imeldainstalling sign plaque on sign (text) smaller

Safekeeping of the Water: Kopit Lodge is Born

Outside of Mi’kma’ki, nowhere else on Planet Earth is Mi’kmaq language spoken, traditions upheld, ceremonies practiced, or heritage entrenched. It is the recognized right of the Mi’kmaq People of Elsipogtog to protect their water, their land, their communities, their way of life, and their culture. As their traditional responsibility since time immemorial, the Mi’kmaq People are tasked with protection of these forests, waters, animals, and of course their Nation as a whole, against any and all maltreatment, abuse, potential destruction, and malfeasance.

In Spring 2014, committed allies from Elsipogtog and nearby NB communities created a gathering place called Kopit Lodge (Kopit means Beaver), which is fully endorsed in this mission by elected and traditional leadership in Elsipogtog First Nation. Here is Kopit’s mission:

kopit flagSafe Keeping of the Water:
We are people of the earth united
to protect the waters. 
Our objective is to protect our children’s inheritance through coordination and persistence. Our group is committed to nonviolent resistance. Kopit Lodge is committed to work with All Peoples and groups who share this vision.

 Announcing the Launch of the IMW Peace & Friendship Legal Fund

Idle No More brought fresh energy to the Indigenous rights movement. On June 26 2014, the SCC’s Tsilhqot’in  decision breathed new hope into unceded Mi’kmaq territory. On the following day, Bruce McIvor of First People’s Law posted this comment on the SCC’s Tsilhqot’in decision In his online advocacy blog,:

Canadians awoke this morning to the post-denial period of Indigenous rights…  The dots-on-a-map theory of Aboriginal title is dead… Aboriginal title can include territorial claims and… the implications are profound…

“Duty to consult has new life… Government and industry will have to step up and acknowledge the new reality… In permitting provincial laws to apply to Aboriginal title lands the Court made new law and saddled the provinces with hefty legal obligations. …When Indigenous people succeed in confirming their Aboriginal title a province will not simply be able to apply their laws through box-ticking consultation. They will be subject to the much more onerous burden of obtaining consent or justifying infringements…

“For Indigenous people with pre-Confederation treaties (e.g. the peace-and-friendship treaties in the Maritimes) the implications are obvious. Their claims to Aboriginal title can now be pursued with renewed confidence…”

As Bruce has said, “The jig is up!” Other legal experts agree:

  • “Aboriginal title applies to territories, not ‘postage stamp’ sized sites of intensive occupation.” (Andrea Bradley and Senwung Luk of Olthius, Kleer, Townshend, see http://www.oktlaw.com/blog/in-a-first-for-a-canadian-court-scc-recognizes-aboriginal-title-for-tsilhqotin-nation/)
  • Aboriginal title is “territorial… It goes from mountaintop to mountaintop in some places; it covers valleys and vast tracts of land.” (David Rosenberg of Woodward & Company, quoted by Dene Moore, http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1078984/top-court-grants-land-title-to-first-nation/)
  • “Any development on Aboriginal title lands would be subject to the consent of the Aboriginal title holder. Absent such consent… the Crown must establish that the infringing use serves a compelling and substantial public interest and is consistent with the Crown’s fiduciary duty to the Aboriginal title holder… Any proposed development must not “deprive future Aboriginal generations of the control and benefit of the lands.” Therefore “exhaustion of particular resources and the footprint of proposed developments will be given significant scrutiny… Resource development in areas where Aboriginal title remains an issue” (like New Brunswick) “will require enhanced Aboriginal engagement, clear public benefit and protection of future Aboriginal use”.” (Alexandria J. Pike and Sarah V. Powell of Davies, Ward  Phillips & Vineberg, see http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/324292/
    Mining/Canadas+First+Finding+of+Aboriginal+Title+Tsilhqotin+Nation+v+BC)
  • “…You simply have to stop the project and get their consent. That changes everything. ‘Consultation,’ and having to get ‘consent,’ are markedly different… The Maritimes are all unceded territory. The Mikmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy didn’t give up a single inch of territory. Talking about shale gas, this is a huge victory for Elsipogtog!! Shale gas and New Brunswick are going to have to come to the table on very different terms, completely rethink how they do work with First Nations… This is good for Canadians too, an epic win for NBers. It actually protects their future too because at the end of the day, farmable land and clean water is what we all need to survive as humans. There are all kinds of jobs that can be had, they don’t all have to be in an extractive industry, they can be in environmental, sustainable industries. That’s where the international community is heading and there’s tons of jobs in those areas.” (Pam Palmater interview on CBC radio, http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningmoncton/2014/06/30/game-changer/)

We are all Treaty People!

The Government of New Brunswick is on the losing side of history — but we must take them to court to prove that!

The Co-Chairs of the IMW Peaceisaac & Friendship Legal Fund are delighted to have the support of Chief and Council of Elsipogtog First Nation as well as traditional leaders, elders inside and outside the community, and and many non-aboriginal allies. Everyone wants to see this Fund grow quickly so we can hire a lawyer to protect our health, communities, water, natural environment, and so much more.

It is a great pleasure to announce that the National Office of the Council of Canadians (COC) has agreed to be the Financial Trustee for this fundraising initiative. All donations to fund will be held in trust by COC, and can only be withdrawn from that trust fund for the costs of mounting this legal defence of the land and water. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to assure that all donations are handled appropriately. Donors can have full confidence that their donations will go to this purpose only.

1399751_318499048307310_8982391397387087726_o                                     

Ed's poster

Please help us assemble financial resources for

Protecting the Earth for Future Generations

Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu


To ensure that your valued contribution is handled with integrity and security that gives you confidence, please mail your donation cheques to our Financial Trustee:

Council of Canadians National Office, 700-170 Laurier Ave W., Ottawa, ON K1P 5V5. Make your cheque PAYABLE to “Council of Canadians”  BUT ALSO WRITE
on the note line or cheque back that this donation is for the “IMW Legal Fund.”

You can also contribute online through our Go Fund Me site, via PayPal:
Elsipogtog, N.B – Legal Action Fund >

Comments posted on this blogspace are not regularly monitored, so if you have questions or need more info, please email to imw.legalfund@gmail.com  This email address goes to Serena Francis (Mi’kmaq grandmother) and Ann Pohl (Canadian grandmother) who are co-chairs of the IMW Legal Fund fundraising campaign.

Nogemag.  Welaliek.  Merci.  Thank you.

Ann Pohl’s Response to Minister Soucy’s June 12th reply to her May 26th submission on Unfair Process and other public interest issues re: 4 SWN EIAs

June 19, 2014
Hon. Danny Soucy, Minister, Environment and Local Government
Marysville Place, P O Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
danny.soucy@gnb.ca

Re: EIA Applications 1381, 1382, 1383, 1384

Dear Minister Soucy:

The second paragraph of your letter recalls Premier Alward’s January 2014 State of the Province address, in which he said, “I want to be crystal clear, we are supportive of shale gas…” and we are “aggressively pursuing” shale gas industrial development. In your next paragraph, you say “I can assure you there is no intent to mislead…” (1)  On the contrary, due to this overriding policy objective, I believe there is a serious attempt to mislead on a number of points.

I suggest it is time to for you, Minister Soucy, as minister responsible for both the environment and local communities, to review your mandate. You oversee two departments and their mandates are environmental protection and the protection of local communities. Therefore, your letter to me should have started by acknowledging that the concerns raised by myself and others are valid, troubling, and substantiated by experiences in a broad diversity of regions (similar and dis-similar to New Brunswick). Rather than cheer-lead for the industry, and attempt to deny, distract and obfuscate, you
should have addressed the points I now reiterate in hope of a more productive response.

  1. As things stand, your department does not have qualified research or policy staff to even anticipate the issues that will arise in this specific region based on other regions’ experiences, nor do you have enforcement personnel with the expertise to monitor this industry. As your much-touted February 2013 “Rules for Industry” document acknowledges right in the preamble (page vi), all these items are among outstanding matters that require government action:
    • Enhancing certification and training requirements for oil and gas operators
    • Monitoring the on-going development of fracturing fluids and technologies
    • Identifying additional wastewater treatment and disposal options
    • Enhancing the provincial water monitoring network
    • Developing a water management strategy for oil and gas development
    • Considering the possible introduction of water use permits
    • Considering expanded ambient air quality monitoring by the Province
    • Establishing an orphan oil and gas well fund
    • Considering the establishment of an enhanced occurrence management system
    • Considering the establishment of a contingency fund to address environmental issues that may occur in future
    • Public Disclosure of Environmental Assessment Information
    • Assessing the Province’s enforcement capabilities
    • Gathering additional scientific information
    • Establishing training requirements for oil and gas operators about New Brunswick’s environmental regulatory regime (2)

    In the past couple of years, you have downsized the Department of the Environment and cut budgets. You have not added expert staff and resources that would enable any real action on these outstanding items. Your technical staff lack the capacity to do ongoing monitoring of pollutants such as radon, NORMs and other hazardous by-products and additives from the sites. How do you intend to hold the proponent accountable for protection of the environment, our communities, our homes and properties, and the health of the public, when the government lacks the skilled personnel required for this “rigorous” protection?

  2. What is the exact relationship between the Technical Review Committee (TRC) partners and invitees, and the Minister’s Office, in regards to decision-making input? In keeping with your government’s commitment to aggressively support and proceed with development of this industry, I am trying to understand two things:
    •     Why have you created such broad and diverse TRC’s? Is this just a public relations gimmick or do the members have power to influence your decision whether or not to approve the proposals in front of you? Can any of these participants, eg. the local governments and local service district committees (who are already on record asking for a stop to exploration and development) or the Chief Medical Officer of Health (who has similarly asked for a halt to all work until much further research is done) influence your decision?
    •     Why are the two most affected and closest First Nations (Elsipogtog and Saint Mary’s) not part of this TRC process?
  3. You are muddying the water with your comment that Phased Reviews have been around for 15 or more years. I am not sure what you are referring to, but attached to the email with which I am forwarding this communication is a PowerPoint produced by your government in early 2011. Its purpose is to inform stakeholders of this new and beneficial Phased Review approach for handling proposals from the shale gas industry.  The “rules” you have created for industry are toothless (based on voluntary compliance and industry self-monitoring). None are legislated and therefore not actually enforceable. In Elgin and Penobsquis it became apparent that Phased Reviews do nothing to help protect the environment. They only seem to benefit the proponents by enabling them to escape comprehensive technical and public scrutiny of their plans. Please answer these questions:
    •     Under the legislation, what is the exact legal standing of a Phased Review Process?
    •     Can a proponent be held responsible for compliance with all recommendations that arise from this process, and if so under what legislation?
    •     Most importantly, why are you using this Phased Review process instead of following the legislative requirement for a Comprehensive Review?
  4. How can you say that the proponent’s proposal does not raise the issue of waste disposal systems as identified in SHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108), which automatically (by law) requires a Comprehensive Review? The proponent mentions several times “flaring” as part of an on-site waste disposal system in this project. In addition, the proponent has failed to propose a system of waste management for the NORMs that may occur in drill cuttings and flow-back fluid in this project. The proponent makes numerous references to waste management “components” that clearly constitute elements of a Waste Management System IN NEED OF DETAILED technical and public REVIEW prior to approval, as defined in 87-108.
  5. In my May 26 2014 submission to you, I point out that the well pads proposed by SWN Resources Canada (SWN) are much bigger than usual for stratigraphic purposes, and that in the Province of Alberta (for example) there is a mandated regulation for a much smaller maximum size for well pads designed for stratigraphic analysis. That Alberta regulation protects the public
    interest by forcing industry to delineate between the stages of exploration and production, and minimizing the impact on the environment while still in the exploratory stage.Your response to me is that “It only makes sense that a proponent would construct an exploration well to a high standard if they are hopeful that they may develop the well further down the road. This way, if exploratory phases are successful and lead to further exploration or even a future proposal for commercial extraction, the proponent may not be required to make extensive modifications to the well or drill a new one because the initial well was not properly constructed for development and production.” Your cavalier rejection of my concerns makes evident the slippery slope of moving from exploration into commercial production WITHOUT ever having any “rigorous” review of the environmental issues at stake and possible/probable
    impacts.

    I am convinced that the intent here IS to mislead the public. The proponent says this development is for stratigraphic analysis. You say the proponent is building much more than is needed for stratigraphic analysis in “hopes” the analysis comes back positive for commercial development, so the infrastructure for commercial development will already be in place. The proponent lays out a plan to build to commercial production standards while nominally doing so supposedly only for stratigraphic purposes. This is endorsed by your comment that doing this only makes sense because the proponent is “hopeful that they may develop the well further down the road… for commercial extraction” – none of which is spelled out in the proposals. By way of example, I doubt your government would approve if I proposed to build a septic system capable of servicing a subdivision on my rural Kent County 11 acre property, and said it was for my new house. The difference is that your government has already decided to facilitate this industry. No matter how much reasoned judgement has to be set aside, or how many loopholes created, that greasing of the wheels of approval seems guaranteed.

    Can you explain to me if you see this differently? Also, why does Alberta have this maximum size regulation for stratigraphic analysis well pads at this exploratory stage and why does New Brunswick not feel it is necessary to protect the public with a similar regulation?

  6. You say the proponent has initiated their public consultation program. When and where are they planning a public meeting in Kent County?
  7. On the matter of the honour of the Crown in regards to First Nations, both of the most directly affected communities (Saint Mary’s and Elsipogtog) have publicly stated that their concerns have not been adequately represented to your government by the third party of the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick (AFNCNB), and that AFNCNB is not advocating for
    them. Hence, why are these communities not being directly asked for their input to your department during this TRC review period, and – if so required – provided with capacity funding to effectively participate? Also, how can an Environmental Management Plan be assembled without their direct input, as title to the land has never been ceded and it is beyond dispute that First Nation communities have an aboriginal right to care-taking or guardianship of their territories, even of territory that may be considered to be in their domain? Finally, there is the issue of cumulative impact on aboriginal and /or treaty rights from four proposals. Given the expressed concerns from the closest First Nations, has this been considered in the event that
    this matter progresses into court? Surely it would make better sense to provide capacity funding and have a genuine dialogue now?

You say you are “strictly following the rules and regulation”. I say that is how you want to make it appear. You cannot even make a reasonable claim to be strictly doing anything when you are following a recently invented system of toothless guidelines and voluntary compliance that stem from a policy to above all expedite this industry – while you are ignoring 30 years of environmental protection
legislation and Supreme Court rulings.

I look forward to your response to the questions I ask above in points 1 through 7.

Respectfully, for future generations,
<original signed>
Ann Pohl

 

Endnotes
(1) “Alward makes ‘crystal clear’ commitment to shale gas”; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/alward-makes-crystal-clear-commitment-to-shale-gas-1.2517028

 

(2) Responsible Environmental Management of Oil and Natural Gas Activities in New Brunswick
Rules for Industry, February 15, 2013; http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Corporate/pdf/ShaleGas/en/RulesforIndustry.pdf

Email from Soucy, Hon. Danny (ELG/EGL), Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 2:58 PM, sent to Ann Pohl

Ms. Pohl:

Thank you for your recent e-mail dated May 26, 2014 concerning the EIA Registrations 1381, 1382, 1383 and 1384 for projects proposed by SWN Resources Canada Inc. Please find below responses to the various issues and concerns identified in your e-mail.
I would like to start by saying that our government remains committed to pursuing the safe and responsible exploration and development of our Province’s natural resources. When it comes to natural gas development in particular, addressing concerns and mitigating any potential adverse effects on the environment is of the utmost importance to us. We are convinced that New Brunswick can foster an environmentally safe and economically viable industry, which could help rebuild our province’s economy. The Government of New Brunswick’s approach to the oil and natural gas industry is proactive with rigorous monitoring, inspection, and strict enforcement of the rules.

With respect to your comment that “The well pads proposed by SWN Resources Canada (SWN) are much bigger than usual for stratigraphic purposes. Thus it appears that the proponent, in complicity with your department, is obscuring the true goal of this development…” I can assure you that there is no intent by our government to mislead the public on this front. It only makes sense that a proponent would construct an exploration well to a high standard if they are hopeful that they may develop the well further down the road. This way, if exploratory phases are successful and lead to further exploration or even a future proposal for commercial extraction, the proponent may not be required to make extensive modifications to the well or drill a new one because the initial well was not properly constructed for development and production. This does not change the fact that a proponent cannot know for certain if a commercially extractable resource is there until they complete more exploratory work.

Furthermore, your email makes several references to the “Phased EIA process” and I wish to offer some clarification on this subject. Phased EIA reviews were introduced in the late 1990 to systematically evaluate and review projects, which during their planning phase, cannot be described in their entirety. This approach is also being utilized to review oil and gas well development projects, where previously these were only registered for an EIA once they had reached a commercial extraction stage. Phased reviews were implemented to address the concerns surrounding these activities and to ensure the well pads were sited appropriately, among other things. It is important to highlight that prior to phased EIAs being implemented; the current work being proposed by SWN may have taken place without any public knowledge or consultation.

Subsequent to the SWN projects having been registered with DELG, a technical review committee (TRC) has been assembled and is made up of technical experts from the following agencies: the Department of Environment & Local Government (several staff including the Wellfield Protection Program Officer and 3 Hydrogeologists), the Department of Health (including the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health), the Department of Public Safety, the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Energy and Mines, the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture (including the Provincial Archeologist), the Energy and Utilities Board, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Environment Canada, Kouchibouguac National Park (St. Charles well only), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Town of Richibucto (St. Charles well only), Village of Rexton (Galloway well only), Regional
Service Commission #6 (Galloway and St. Charles wells), RSC#11 (Pangburn and Bronson wells), RSC#8 (Pangburn well only), Chair of the LSD Cape de Richibucto (Galloway well only), Chair LSD St. Charles (St. Charles well only). The TRC has had the opportunity to review the SWN registration documents and the EIA Project Manager has submitted approximately 100 questions (raised by the TRC) to the proponent for each of their four (4) proposed projects. SWN has responded to the TRC questions and the TRC is currently reviewing the responses to determine if they are satisfactory to address their concerns. The TRC is also in the process of reviewing SWN’s Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and is actively providing feedback.

The proponent has initiated their public consultation program and the government is working towards fulfilling the Crown’s duty to consult with First Nations.

The NB Department of Health is a key member of the TRC and has been forwarded all proponent submissions concerning the four (4) currently proposed well pads. Comments concerning these proposed project activities have been received from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. In addition, the proponent has not proposed an onsite waste disposal system as identified in SHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108); however, they are required to identify an acceptable method of disposing of their waste and must submit a Waste Management Plan which is then reviewed by the TRC prior to the project being approved.

I must emphasize that phased EIA reviews do not change the fact that “if” and “when” the proponent wishes to commercially extract oil and/or gas from a well pad, they are required to obtain an EIA determination prior to proceeding to the commercial extraction phase. I can assure you that, in any case, proponents do not decide whether or not they will be required to register for an EIA nor do they decide the final outcome of a determination review.

This leads me to your question regarding what we consider “intent of commercial production”. I can inform you that when a proponent proposes to extract oil and/or gas, and sell it commercially, that is what we would consider intent of commercial production. Given that the proponent does not know for certain if there is a commercially extractable resource until they conduct more work, a phased review has been implemented. I would also like to address your question with regards to SCHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108) on page 5 of your email. The undertakings listed under Schedule A all require registration and by default undergo a “determination review” as opposed to a “comprehensive review” as mentioned in your email.

I respectively decline you recommendation to direct the proponent to amalgamate their four (4) projects into one application and initiate a comprehensive review. We are strictly following the rules and regulation; the Technical Review Committee is actively working towards identifying any potential concerns related to the projects to ensure these concerns are addressed and mitigated prior to the projects being approved and commencing.

And finally, regarding your second email dated May 26, 2014, DELG staff contacted SWN to determine the time period their online comments site remained open; SWN informed us that when they posted the first public notices about their proposed projects in local newspapers, they had indicated they would accept comments until May 21, 2014. The online comments section on their website was opened on Thursday, April 17, 2014 and was kept open two days longer than announced in their initial public notices, closing on Friday, May 23, 2014.

Unfortunately, SWN did not notice the inconsistent date on the letter sent to residents that live within 1800 m of the proposed well pad sites (May 26th). Even though the website was closed on May 23, 2014 these residents still had other options to express their concerns (via written response or direct email to SWN Resources Canada Inc.).

Furthermore, section 6.0 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT (page xiii, 3rd paragraph) in our GUIDE TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT IN NEW BRUNSWICK (GUIDE) indicates that a proponent is required to give stakeholders and the general public 25 days (from the date of public notice of registration) to provide their comments. Given that there are 32 days between April 17, 2014 and May 23, 2014 SWN has met the requirement in the GUIDE.

I believe many of your process-related concerns, including the requirements and details related to Comprehensive EIA reviews, could be addressed and the EIA process clarified further – I invite you to contact Crystale Harty or David Maguire at (506) 444-5382 to set up a convenient time.

Sincerely,
Hon. Danny Soucy
Minister
Environment and Local Government

My Comments to Govt of NB about their collusion with SWN’s “outlaw” applications to build well pads and access roads

May 26, 2014

Marysville Place, P O Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
danny.soucy@gnb.ca

Re: EIA Applications 1381, 1382, 1383, 1384

Dear Hon. Danny Soucy, Minister of Environment and Local Government:

On behalf of myself and a large majority of community members in Kent County, I am writing to comment on all four current “Phased Review process” EIA applications by SWN Resources Canada. All four have the same project proposal numbers from the proponent: #121810275. I have identified them here by the Government of New Brunswick application numbers. All four are being addressed
simultaneously in pages 1 to 8 below, as these comments deal with issues of your government’s process, which I believe comes before the specifics of their content. If the process is unfair, opaque and misleading, which I contend it is, then the details are almost irrelevant. In the latter portion of this document, I briefly address a few major specific points regarding the four sites.

THE PROPOSED ACTIVITY

The exploration activity proposed in each of the four documents is drilling of a “vertical stratigraphic well to further assess the potential for hydrocarbon-bearing formations underground,” and includes:

  • “the construction of two access roads and well pad on Crown Land near Lower Saint-Charles,New Brunswick” (GNB-Phased Review #1382: Executive Summary, 3rd para);
  • “the construction of an access road and well pad on Crown Land near Pangburn, New Brunswick” (GNB-Phased Review #1381: Executive Summary, 3rd para);
  • “the construction of a well pad on Crown Land near Bronson, New Brunswick” (GNB-Phased Review #1383: Executive Summary, 3rd para);
  • “the construction of two access roads and well pad on both private and Crown Land near Galloway, New Brunswick” (GNB-Phased Review #1384: Executive Summary, 3rd para).

On the Government of New Brunswick website, it further states that each of these applications is to install a “2-hectare” well pad and “associated infrastructure.” Each “vertical stratigraphic well” will be drilled “to an approximate depth of 1000-4000m,” which amounts to a hole straight into the earth through whatever water or rock is there, down to perhaps 4 km or 2.5 miles.

The British onshore shale oil and gas industry website UKOOG says 2 hectares is a common size for a production stage well pad. 1 The well pads proposed by SWN Resources Canada (SWN) are much bigger than usual for stratigraphic purposes. 2 Thus it appears that the proponent, in complicity with your department, is obscuring the true goal of this development. These well pads are not being built simply for stratigraphic exploration as claimed. They are building to commercial production standards because that is how industry anticipates their use. This is what each could look like in a few years: 3

Image

THE PROBLEMS WITH PHASED REVIEWS

Through something termed a “Phased EIA” review process, the Government of New Brunswick has created an enormous loophole to allow unfettered upscaling of shale gas and oil development in this province. The “Phased” review process can avoid ever triggering a valid and full scale (“Comprehensive” 4) Environmental Impact Assessment review. “Phased Review” is a phrase that has only appeared in print on the NBDELG website in the past two months. The subject applications are the first to be declared as undergoing a “Phased Review process” on your online EIA registration list.

The “Phased EIA process” apparently began informally in early 2011, which coincides with the earliest reports from other regions about the serious detrimental impacts this industry can have. 2011 is also when New Brunswick citizens became alarmed about the development of the shale gas extraction industry in NB. There have been warning bells about this deep shale gas mining industry since its inception in the early 2000’s. However, since 2010 (or earlier) no application by Apache, Contact or Corridor for gas well work in Penobsquis or in Elgin has triggered a Comprehensive EIA Review.

The “Phased EIA process” does not have the force of law for standards of accuracy, completeness, or for subsequent enforcement. It is un-mandated, un-legislated, and hence unenforceable, and the proponent knows this. In Section 1.0 of each application, the proponent states that the Phased EIA “closely mirrors” the EIA required by law in Regulation 87-83, but if we look closely, each of the proponent’s four documents includes the following text about the “Phased EIA process”:

“This document is submitted to NBDELG as part of the Phased EIA Process… For greater certainty 5, this project does not trigger an EIA registration, but rather this document is a submission pursuant to the Phased EIA process… …An EIA registration 6 requires governmental approval before the work that is described therein is carried out.”

In the same Section of each of the four proposal documents, the proponent has also included the following paragraph about the Government of New Brunswick’s “Phased Review process”:

“New Brunswick legislation and regulation require that certain projects or work must be evaluated through an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process (see Schedule A to the New Brunswick  Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation – Clean Environment Act, Regulation 87-83). In addition, the Province of New Brunswick has created a Phased EIA process and though this process is not yet governed by any specific legislation or regulation, certain projects such as  oil and gas exploration drilling work are evaluated through a Phased EIA submission to the New Brunswick Department of
Environment and Local Government (NBDELG). The Phased EIA process is characterized 7 as an opportunity for greater environmental stewardship by allowing regulators and the public to conduct early stage evaluation of various project developments.”

These quotes from the proponent’s applications appear to serve as their disclaimer about the entire “Phased EIA process.” This is extremely relevant. What the proponent seems to be saying is that development can go ahead without government approval because this “Phased EIA process” is not governed by any New Brunswick legislation or regulation. In the endnotes are comments in regards to text I have emphasized from the proponent’s document. This “Phased EIA process” (my emphasis, the proponent’s terminology) appears to be an attempt by the NBDELG to expedite approvals without any safeguards from the analysis and oversight that would be provided by a valid, informed and transparent comprehensive EIA review.

Now SWN Resources Canada proposes to slide through permanent commercial well pad construction in Kent and Queens counties based on a “Phased EIA process” review, and the Government of New Brunswick is facilitating this apparent underhandedness. The Executive Summary of each application also makes it clear that at no point down the road does the proponent expect a comprehensive EIA review (as per NB Reg. 87-83), because each also has this sentence: “The scope of future work will be defined as a new project description and submitted as a sequel to this Phased EIA Submission.8

To clarify what is actually happening with these Phased Reviews, on February 26, 2014 I had a 40-minute telephone conversation with David Maguire, Manager of the Environmental Assessment Section, in the Sustainable Development and Impact Evaluation Branch of the Department of Environment and Local Government. Mr. Maguire clearly stated to me that “this government plans to encourage companies to proceed with shale gas development.” Work that is identified in proposals as “preliminary” or “small” can be approved without much intervention in order to get things moving. If a company wants to “do this or that or a frack here or there,” GNB will facilitate that because it is in accord with its pro-shale gas development policy.

He said, “Only when the company says, we want to go into commercial production” will the Minister get involved to say yea, nay, or approve with conditions to the proposal. This begs the question: at what point is the development determined to be undertaken with the intent of commercial production? I submit we are at that point with these proposals from SWN Resources Canada. To call it anything else is, in my opinion, a deliberate attempt to deceive the population of New Brunswick.

At this point I must call to your attention one example of where your department has seriously under-stepped its mandate. In Section 2.2 of each of the subject proposals, there is description of how the proponent intends to deal with waste liquids and tailings from that site. These wastes will contain drill fluids (of unspecified ingredients) as well as other material. As a complicating factor, due to high prevalence of uranium and radon gas in New Brunswick, the wastes generated from drilling up to 4 km into the earth at these four locations will very likely also be contaminated with NORM`s (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials) that have been retrieved from underground. The plans outlined in these applications for storage, treatment and disposal of these waste pollutants (at best) and hazardous radioactive or carcinogenic substances (more likely) are genuinely sketchy – vague and inadequate.

Regulation 87-83, specifically under SCHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108.m), appears to identify all waste disposal systems for projects like this as an automatic trigger for a full, public Comprehensive EIA review. This makes it even more concerning that NBDELG is allowing these applications to be processed in a casual “Phased” off-the-cuff manner. NBDELG appears to be failing to do its job, as per its own legislation, which lends credibility to the concern that the Phased EIA process is truly only designed to avoid the restrictions (protections) found in the most current legislated GNB rules and policies.

GNB has been arguing for almost three years that it can protect the health and natural environment of New Brunswickers with its: “world-class” regulations for industry; capable enforcement and inspection services within government; and, a bona fide environmental impact review process.

Protection of the environment and health begins with a valid and thorough environmental impact review process. As stated on your own website,

“Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process through which the environmental impacts
potentially resulting from a proposed project are identified and assessed early in the planning
process. EIA identifies steps that can be taken to avoid negative environmental impacts or reduce
them to acceptable levels before they occur. EIA therefore, represents a proactive, preventative
approach to environmental management and protection.”

Your Guide to Environmental Impact Assessment in New Brunswick further says that the EIA process:

“gives technical specialists from government, as well as local residents and the general public, a

chance to provide their input to the decision-making process… this is not intended to be a
mechanism for stopping developments for which the anticipated impacts can be avoided or reduced
to acceptable levels through mitigation 9.”

In summary, the proposals being reviewed at this stage do not constitute an honest, transparent and full disclosure of the proponent’s actual intent for these sites. The point was made above that the proponent declares these are not registration documents for an EIA, yet NBDELG appears to be making this all look like a real EIA process, and has assigned an EIA number and listed the documents as registration documents. The proponent even seems to suggest no EIA approval is required before proceeding, which makes sense in that the “Phased EIA process” is an unregulated and unlegislated process. This whole process seems designed to make it look like something is being done to protect the local environment, communities, and health of all creatures including, while in fact nothing is being done to avoid the negative impacts of the intended development for these sites. NBDELG is involved in hoodwinking the public with these sham reviews, and this is completely unacceptable in view of the risks this industry poses. It seems to me that NBDELG is legally bound to hold the full “Comprehensive” EIA by 87-108 (m).

THE PROBLEMS WITH NOTICE AND CONSULTATION

The affected public in this very rural region has not been given valid opportunity to be involved in decision-making about this development. Industrial development of this nature can lead to detrimental impacts far beyond the 1.8 km radius the proponent has notified in this so-called “phase.” While two of the four projects are technically in Queens County, that area is much like the rest of rural, Kent County, and in our sort of “neighbourhood”:

  • Most local people are incredibly wise about the land, water and natural environment and what it needs for sustainability, but have no experience making formal responses on matters like this.
  • Some people who have heard about the proposals but did not get letters (because of distance from the sites) believe they cannot comment on the matter because they did not get a letter.
  • Others outside the radius of properties that got letters from SWN, especially seasonal property owners, are just hearing about the location and scope of the proposed development in the past week. They are not being informed by your DELG staff or the proponent about where to go for more information or to make comments.

As I mentioned to NBDELG staff member Crystale Harty when these applications were first filed, there are other issues that interfere with the population’s right to be informed about these industrial development proposals. High speed only came to many parts of Kent County in the past few years, and not that many people have the computer literacy/skills to get information and/or make responses online.

An important factor in this computer skills deficit is low literacy levels in Kent County and other rural regions across the province – of which your government is well aware. Interpreting the meaning of these proposals requires a Level 4 or 5 literacy skill. The majority of rural New Brunswickers are at or below Level 3, which would make comprehending the documents and writing a cogent response very difficult. Putting copies of the applications in local libraries is a sound idea but is of very little real benefit. Who has time to sit and read them at the library even if the person had advanced literacy skills?

As well, it is not possible to print any of the four .pdf reports produced by Stantec for the proponent. Seemingly, they have been saved as secured files. This makes the process even more restrictive.

Oral communication is the best way to share information with people who have low literacy skills. Many people ask why SWN and NBDELG are not holding public meetings about this – with presentations and question periods. In May 2013, SWN planned to speak at a public meeting in Saint-Louis; they cancelled at the last minute citing safety concerns. Yet, shortly after the dramatic events of October 17 2013, a SWN representative attended a meeting in a large tent on Route 116, to try to get local residents to accept the seismic testing. He came alone, to a meeting held in the dark of night with more than 100 local residents. He left alone. He and his vehicle were not assaulted in any manner.

The system your department has approved for public comment on these Phased EIA’s is highly questionable and undermines the right of the public to be part of the decision-making process. These decisions will affect property values as well as treaty rights, in addition to the other issues mentioned above. All local populations have the right to be fully involved in this crucial decision-making process, in a meaningful and respectful manner. 10

RECOGNITION OF TREATY, ABORIGINAL AND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS,
AND THE TRADITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE Mi’KMAQ PEOPLE
  

All four of these proposals are located in the Signigtog District of the Mi’kmaq Nation. Outside of Mi’kma’ki, nowhere else on Planet Earth is the Mi’kmaq language spoken, or their traditions upheld, ceremonies practiced, or heritage entrenched. It is the recognized right of the Mi’kmaq People of Elsipogtog to protect their water, their land, their communities, their way of life, and their culture. As part of their traditional responsibility since time immemorial, the Mi’kmaq People are tasked with the protection of these forests, waters, animals, and of course their Nation as a whole, against any and all maltreatment, abuse, potential destruction, and malfeasance.

Together with the Federal Government of Canada, your government is obligated to uphold the honour of the Crown vis-a-vis promises made in the Peace and Friendship Treaties, as well as other agreements concerning aboriginal and indigenous rights enshrined in the Canadian Constitution and in the international human rights treaties and declarations to which Canada is signatory. Up to now, your government and the federal counterpart have addressed valid issues of the First Nations of this region with deception, trickery, disrespect, and ultimately a state-sponsored show of force in which many hundreds of innocent and peaceful people were traumatized. Some people were also criminalized for the act of defending their treaty rights and protecting the natural environment of their original territory.

Pursuant to their treaty, inherent and indigenous rights, the Elsipogtog First Nation community is resolutely concerned that shale gas extraction in Signigtog will lead to plant destruction, water poisoning, and endangerment of human and animal life. Together with the traditional Mi’kmaq Nation leadership, the Elsipogtog Chief and Band Council deem this situation as a critical-level threat and have already taken a number of steps to try to avert this potential disaster, including, but not limited to:

  • Questioning the process of full consultation for which the Government of New Brunswick is constitutionally bound;
  • Sending out letters of eviction to SWN Resources and all sub-contractors, signed by both sets of leadership;
  • Making known their conviction that this land has not been ceded or surrendered to any other authority or government;
  • Passing a Band Council Resolution (BCR) to notify the Province, other agencies, and corporations that they are trespassing on such lands.

I would suggest that you are on the losing side of history and that you should immediately reconsider and alter your strategic approach and goals. It is noted that the proponent has submitted no archeological information, and that their consultation and/or engagement with First Nations is not reported. For your information, old-timers in upriver Kent County have spoken about a continuous nonreserve Aboriginal settlement in a remote area out along Salmon River Road, north of the bog, on the south side of the road, up the mid-1900’s. In regards to the honour of the Crown, prior to approval it is essential your government consult archival materials and oral history under the direction of genealogical and historical experts recommended by Elsipogtog and St. Mary’s First Nations.

OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH ISSUES

Members of our communities believe that your government does not have our long term public and environmental health as its first concern. We are enormously concerned about what this industry will do to our water, our hunting grounds, our fishing streams, our crops and gardens, our domestic animals, our health, property values, and the viability of this region for future generations. We want your government to undertake full environmental analysis and protection in a public-friendly manner.

Alone among the heads of New Brunswick ministries and departments, we trust that the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province of New Brunswick is concerned first and foremost about the health of the public and the environment we all live in, and that she has a deep understanding of relevant social, cultural and economic issues. Dr. Cleary has explicitly said that there are too many public health, environmental, and risk-benefit unknowns about this industry and that the province should stall any development while further research can be compiled and analyzed from other regions where fracking has been done, as well as undertaking a number of baseline studies that have not been done so far. We agree with her. We want her to be given the resources and mandate to update her research and recommendations from her October 2012 report, and then we want her subsequent revised recommendations implemented before any further development of this industry is contemplated.

Turning briefly to the specific applications, a few specific concerns beg attention. I focus more on the western sites as they are in more isolated areas and are less likely to generate comments from neighbouring concerned citizens:

  • In regards to the Pangburn site, this is located in a boggy area – adjacent to Canaan Bog, peatlands, an environmentally protected area, and a deer wintering area. Although the nearest watercourse is more than 30 meters away (Otter Brook), there is no doubt that the entire area is riddled with underwater streams. While the stratigraphic analysis will have rather minimal impact on most of these life systems, it has already been established above that the proponent has much larger intent for these well pads so everything said in this application is quite possibly only half true (at best). Although one of the proponent’s biologists who is said to have expertise in a broad number of disciplines (“wetland/botany/aquatic/forestry”) attended the site on one occasion (in September 2013) with a “wildlife/avian biologist,” their conclusion that there are “no species at risk” inspires no confidence or reassurance. One cannot help but think of Dr. Louis Lapierre, who made a career of writing similar recommendations for industry and government, only to be eventually discredited as having invented his credentials as a biologist. All of their findings, including the proposed mitigation strategies regarding flaring and ambient artificial lighting, or claims that these will not disturb nesting birds or rare plants, can only be met with skepticism. For starters, the curriculum vitae, site reports and recommendations from these biologists must be made available to the public in their entirety.
  • A similar situation and set of concerns apply to the Bronson site, which is very close to Pangburn but is located further than Pangburn from a watercourse (1500m – Black Water Brook). However, in this case the findings of apparently the same team of biologists inspire even less confidence – because the site visit occurred in April 2014, when the region was still very heavily blanketed by “snow cover.” The proponent acknowledges this resulted in an “absence of seasonally present animals” – neglecting to mention the absent seasonal streams, birds, insects, vegetation, etc. Because it was winter, all that could be seen were trees. Unlike Pangburn which was recently totally clear-cut, at Bronson there is “considerable regrowth from past cutting” including an unusually large stand of yellow birch in the vicinity. Yellow birch is a very scarce tree in the defoliated Acadian forest, and is the host for a natural medicine important to the Mi’kmaq. The proponent says they are planning another visit this summer. Again, the starting place for generating confidence in the conclusions reached by these biologists is to release their curriculum vitae, and original site reports and recommendations to the public.
  • Lower Saint-Charles: the Mayor of Richibucto has expressed alarm about this location, commenting that it is in very close proximity to Richibucto’s municipal water source.
  • Galloway: Adjacent to the Galloway site are a number of thriving agricultural plantations principally berries (strawberries and cranberries) which required considerable up-front cost for the plantings and which are highly susceptible to pollutants in the water and air. Poisoning operations such as this, and putting them out of production, will impact local long-term sustainable employment, as well as the local economy and food security.
CONCLUSION

Your government has already done great damage to many people who live in Kent County. As things stand, it is very well known that industry has obtained no social license to prepare for commercial shale gas production here. Your abandonment of care for bona fide environmental impact analysis is not in keeping with the spirit of environmental impact assessment regulations either here in New Brunswick or elsewhere in Canada. You are rushing us all headlong into this irreversible industrial endeavour, for which a scientifically valid cost-benefit analysis has never been done.

GNB’s attitude appears to be that sketchy oversight and a meaningless consultation process is fine. The only explanation for this lack of care is that GNB does not want to put barriers in the way of industry. The legalese cited from the proponents’ application (see section 1 above) suggests that industry expects to continue with this simulated EIA process (“Phased EIA process”) and to never trigger the Comprehensive Review that clearly is intended by Regulation 87-83 for such a hazardous industry.

If the proponent obtains these approvals without a full and thorough review of the environmental risks and impacts, the precedent is set for approval of all subsequent small, incremental “phases” of development on this site without serious study. At any future point, the proponent could reasonably argue everything is already in place, so all remaining plans do not require any serious, transparent, comprehensive EIA process.

I am confident that the comments I have made here represent the sentiments of almost all our community members, both year-round and seasonal residents. More than 90% of Kent County residents, concerned physicians from Rexton and Richibucto, all Local Service Districts Committees, and the Mayors of 5 of the 6 Kent County municipalities are totally opposed to any further exploration, and we are even more opposed to development of commercial production. We are alarmed about the known facts. Elsewhere this industry has had unpredictable, uncontrollable and devastating impacts on adjacent, downwind or watershed-connected natural environments. The same thing could happen here, especially when the government is neglecting its fiduciary obligation to ensure valid and full Environmental Impact analysis.

If these issues arise here, the health of all living creatures in our land, air and water bioregions will certainly be compromised. It is therefore recommended that:

  1. the proponent be directed to amalgamate these proposals into one application and resubmit with detailed discussion of reasons for constructing such durable infrastructure and well pads, as well as their medium and long term intended use of these sites, and full disclosure of the proponent’s expert biologist reports (along with their academic qualifications and experience). as well as how the intended ultimate development will likely impact the surrounding area; and,
  2. your department initiate a Comprehensive EIA Review to review the amalgamated application, and undertake the public consultation appropriate to that extensive review with all communities in this region including full Treaty-based consultation with First Nations communities.
If you choose not to take this route, I further and alternatively request that the New Brunswick Ombudsman Mr. Charles Murray (who is copied on this letter) comment on the issues I have raised in this letter in regards to Section 21.1.a or 21.1.b of the Ombudsman Act, RSNB 1973.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl

Copies of this were sent to:
Chad Peters, SWN Resources swnnb@swn.com
Charles Murray, Ombudsman nbombud@gnb.ca
Crystale Harty, Environment & Local Government Crystale.Harty@gnb.ca
David Maguire, Manager, Environmental Assessment ELG David.Maguire@gnb.ca
Dr. Eilish Cleary, NB Chief Medical Officer of Health Eilish.Cleary@gnb.ca
Karen White, Director, Healthy Environments, Health Karen.White@gnb.ca
Stephan Hamel, Healthy Environments, Health Stephan.Hamel@gnb.ca
Jennifer Murray, Director, Office of the Ombudsman Jennifer.Murray@gnb.ca
Perry Haines, ADM. Environment & Local Government Perry.Haines@gnb.ca
Hon. David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick David.Alward@gnb.ca
Hon. Craig Leonard, Minister of Energy and Mines Craig.Leonard@gnb.ca
Paul Lang, Executive Director, Kent Regional Service Commission Paul.lang@csrk.ca

Aboriginal Rights Coalition – Atlantic
Canadian Union of Public Employees (NB)
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Council of Canadians, Atlantic Region and National Office
Elsipogtog First Nation, Chief and Council
Fredericton & District Labour Council
KAIROS, Atlantic Region
Kopit Lodge, Elsipogtog First Nation
Leaders of all NB Opposition Parties
Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada
Mi’kmaq Grand Council, Signigtog District
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
New Brunswick Environment Network, Shale Gas Caucus
New Brunswick Federation of Labour
St. Mary’s First Nation. Chief and Council
Wabanaki Confederacy

 

ENDNOTES

1 From Institute of Director’s report ‘Getting Shale Gas Working’ on UKOOG site
2 In Alberta, for example, the maximum size permitted for a stratigraphic well pad is 0.8 hectares. See 100.1.(a) at
Integrated Standards and Guidelines (Alberta Govt, Dec. 2013)
3 Photo borrowed for non-profit purposes from http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/water-works/2013/06/24/what-thefrack-is-up-with-drinking-water-and-shale-gas-extraction/#.U3zw3_ldXng My estimate of size made on basis on trucks.
4 See: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/env/pdf/EIA-EIE/GuideEnvironmentalImpactAssessment.pdf
5 My emphasis.
I understand that the term “greater certainty” is used here because the proponent is saying they are doing
this the way NBDELG told them they could, and they know it is not the genuine process as required by law (Regulation
87-83) and therefore they are not really responsible for anything if it comes to the matter of legal review by a court.
6 My emphasis. Reading this altogether, it seems clear that the proponent is saying that none of this has any basis in law
and is not binding in the way an EIA registration would be.
7 My emphasis. It is characterized as this by NBDELG, but I argue in this document that it is nothing of the sort! This
departmental messaging and my analysis of the shortcomings are substantiated by the presentation given to key
stakeholders in January 2011: Phased Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process for Oil & Gas Development
in New Brunswick. This GNB public relations powerpoint was made available to me by a friend outside government.
8 My emphasis. “Phased EIA” was designed by NBDELG to minimize oversight of industry impact. A sequel is intended.
9 My emphasis. There is no evidence negative impacts of the true intended development for these sites can be mitigated.
10 It came to my attention right after I submitted this that SWN Resources Canada apparently closed its online comment board at least one day (perhaps more) prior to May 26th, which is the date they stated as the deadline in their letters to property owners.