Submission to the Federal Government re: Consultation on the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51)

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December 13, 2016

To:         National Security Consultation, Public Safety Canada

From:   Ann Pohl, on behalf of the Kent County Chapter, Council of Canadians;

To the Attention of: 

I am writing to you today on behalf of the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians.

We are pleased to learn that your government is seriously considering how to undo the considerable damage to human rights enacted through the Anti-Terrorism Act (formerly known as Bill C-51).

Unfortunately, we only became aware of your government’s consultation process on this matter about a week ago. In this letter, we ask you to consider the grave social importance of having a public meeting in our area. What follows is the “back story” so that you know why we make this request.

Introducing Ourselves

Our chapter supporters are some of the Anglo, Acadian, Mi’kmaq, and Newcomer community members who determinedly protected our watersheds, soil, air, communities, properties, and the health of our family and neighbours, from the threat of deep shale unconventional hydraulic fracking in 2013.

Actually, we were educating ourselves and others on this issue since 2011, when people in this area first learned about this proposed resource development by SWN Resources Canada. The industry was still in its youth when we heard it was coming here. Still, we were not operating on a lucky hunch when we began to kick up a fuss about the proposal for this to happen in our neighbourhood of New Brunswick. We were warned of the serious issues by other communities in the United States, who had been in the first wave of those to be fracked. For that, we are extremely grateful..

Aside from documented cases of pollution of water, soil and air, this resource extraction 02335e37ded043bf5b18318a013bd7b9process is incredibly capital and water-usage intensive, It contributes terribly to global climate issues due to fugitive methane releases, flaring, and the carbon footprint of the industrial practices of drilling, transporting, etc. On top of that, this form of deep fracking has proven to have very low productivity after just the first year. When the wells become too unproductive to merit more fracks, they are no longer used. Most governments have not demanded a guarantee for close-down in the contracts with proponents. Sometimes wells get capped off properly, but these may remain hazardous unless monitored continuously. There are many time-bombs in aging frack plays, because the cost of proper decommissioning and monitoring is greater than the profit margin supports.

Subsequent to our success at stopping the proponent from commencing with drilling, we have been proven correct in our concerns. There is now conclusive scientific research on the risks and hazards of this form of fracking. Our concerns were acknowledged by the Government of New Brunswick earlier this year, when an indefinite moratorium on hydraulic fracking was announced.

In short, we have been exonerated: we were right to defend our families and our rural environment from this environmental threat. Yet, in 2016, there are road-level resistors/protectors who are still living with court “conditions.” The conditions imposed on many of our Indigenous allies are far more severe than what a non-Indigenous person would expect. All-out attempts were made to make an example of us and thus discourage other similar Water Protection actions across Canada.

The facts about fracking above illustrate that we did the right thing when it needed to be done. We did this despite having to face down our own provincial government, one of the largest oil and gas mining companies in North America, and the most powerful resource extraction corporation in this province who also controls the vast majority of the mainstream media. In a sense, we were on the side of the angels, but obviously some of the national security forces in Canada did not agree.

The Repression We Experienced

I do not need to drag you through everything we went through. It is all a matter of public record in the media, and in various government files. I want to bring your focus to the particular matters which underscore why the Peoples of Kent County NB deserve our own public consultation meeting on domestic national security and the Anti-Terrorism Act. I will focus on four points:

  1. Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment: Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry

    Around the same time as Bill C-51 was introduced to the federal parliament, a “top secret” RCMP 2014 document was somehow obtained by Greenpeace and released to the media. This document is an internal “security force” backgrounder. It clearly makes the argument for a stronger legislative framework to criminalize grassroots environmental protection action.

    It is significant to note that this document repeatedly suggests that peaceful protesters who assemble over climate concerns or other environmental issues are somehow a risk to national security. It is a disgrace that such a document would be produced in a country committed to respect for the civil and political rights of its citizenry.

    Throughout the document you will note that our allies and ourselves are specifically tumblr_mh3bkewfyd1s0tx32o1_500portrayed in a very negative manner. Completely missing from this biased document is what we actually did for four years to protect the water and environment here in Kent County NB and why we did it. Also, the document suggests we were all dangerous and inclined towards violent protest.

    Exaggerations, lies, misinformation, and disinformation are propagated in this official document. This is only one example of how we Protectors and Defenders have been villainized, disrupted, and otherwise attacked in the so-called interest of national security. We do not expect an apology for these slanderous comments. We would like the opportunity to tell leaders of Canada about the damage your police and security forces have done to lives here with these and other attacks.

  2. SWN Resources sued gas protesters for losses

    Two civil court actions were filed by SWN Resources Canada in Fall 2013 against some of us and our allies. (A link to an article on the first suit is provided in this section’s heading.) It is evident that these claims were launched for the purpose of discouraging public involvement in resisting the destruction of our local environment. Typically, civil actions like these are known as “SLAPP suits” (Strategic Legal Action to Prevent Public Participation in social activism). They include a claim for damages, on the basis of which an injunction is sought against protestors.

    14368804_10154323458455932_5073778277126996304_nThese suits are simply corporate violation of human rights. To those directly named, they cause alarm, depression, trauma, anger, and much more. In the broader community, they create panic and confusion for those who are affiliated with the named individuals through organizations or actions. In almost all cases, the suits amount to empty bullying. Few are taken to conclusion, primarily because corporations know they would lose with their inflated and untrue assertions. In a subsequent news report, it can be seen that the 10 named individuals in this first SWN Resources Canada initiated SLAPP suit are accused by the corporations of a range of illegal and obnoxious acts. Although our Chapter does not personally know all the individuals named, we do know that several of those accused had not done the things that were published in the newspaper as their “crimes.”

    In many jurisdictions there is no legislation preventing corporations from launching these exasperating actions. As in our area, the names of all accused would be dragged through the mud in public while all these people are doing is exercising their civil and political rights. An increasing number of jurisdictions are bringing in legislation that prevents frivolous and noxious legal action like this. To protect the rights of all Canadians, federal initiative is needed to ensure that SLAPP suits cannot happen anywhere in this nation.

  3. Chair-Initiated Complaint and Public Interest Investigation into the RCMP response to the shale gas (fracking) protests in Kent County, New Brunswick, in 2013

    In 2013, we spent seven months on the roads of this county to stop SWN Resource Canada’s search for the best fracking drill sites. Many of us – especially our Mi’kmaq allies – were subjected to severe repression by the RCMP. Numerous abuses of power took place.

    The RCMP also completely and inexplicably flip-flopped on the question of whether it was their responsibility to enforce a private corporation’s civil suit seeking damages for their losses from community leaders. Initially the RCMP said it was not their job: there is a court affidavit dated October 9th that substantiates this. For some unknown reason, a week later they changed their opinion, and immediately initiated one of the largest police attacks on a public protest ever seen in Canada. Even this assault, and a myriad of trumped-up charges and release conditions, did not stop us. Resistance continued on the road for another almost two months.

    Many of us who were involved feel strongly that much of the non-peaceful conduct on 2013 was the work of outsiders, possibly provocateurs, conceivably working for a security force that wanted to make us look bad. Not coincidentally, no protector/protester was convicted of the most controversial activity that took place: the burning of police cars. Our feelings about this are based in reality. It has been previously determined that RCMP have burnt buildings and cars, and conducted other illegal activities to discredit dissenters and activists.

    Many of us were traumatized by the experiences we had at the hands of the RCMP.

    tumblr_mh3bkewfyd1s0tx32o1_500Arising from all of this, hundreds of complaints about police abuse of powers were documented. These are being investigated by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. In December 2014, we were relieved to learn that the Civilian Commission has taken this matter so seriously that their own Commissioner also filed a complaint regarding RCMP activity. It is now more than three years since these abuses took place, and more than two years since the investigation began. It is very demoralizing that there has been no news about when we can expect a report from the Commission.

    Sadly, being disappointed by the Commission is not a huge surprise. In 2009, the Harper government removed outspoken Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, from his position. The government at that time also cut the budget of the this agency, and narrowed its purview. Subsequently, in December 2014, the Harper government finished off any hope for a valid independent process for review of RCMP actions through passage of the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act. This closed the Commission for Public Complaints and replaced it with the current Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC), which is mandated under the RCMP Act and has no powers to order anything. The CRCC can only make suggestions and use moral suasion.

  4. 35 Indigenous anti-shale gas protesters in N.B. on RCMP ‘threat’ list 

    Recent media reports indicate that the RCMP’s National Intelligence Co-ordination Centre has a list of 313 Indigenous activists who concern them. 89 of these are on a priority “watch list.” 35 of these “potential threats to public safety” got on the list because of anti-fracking resistance here in Kent County NB. Jeffrey Monaghan, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Institute for Criminology and Criminal Justice, filed the Access to Information request that uncovered the list of Indigenous persons of national security interest. Monaghan is quoted saying, “These are Charter-protected activities… public, political events that people are engaging with.”

    14963180_10154449656475932_3513501820441595556_nIn a follow-up new story on CBC, ‘We’ve always been seen as a threat,’ says former N.W.T. premier of RCMP surveillance revelations, former NWT Premier Stephen Kawfki makes the point that “some of our people stand up to protect our land, wildlife, our way of life, our community against development and against business interests, industrial interests… When our people stand up and take a stand it evokes fear and outrage sometimes from other groups and individuals and we need protection. That’s what police are for.” Deneze Nakehk’o, who works with Dene Nahjo in the NWT, comments, “All this surveillance really makes it difficult for Indigenous people to trust the state.” Kawfki is concerned that “Canada reverts to police state surveillance, when we should all be working towards working together.”

    That is exactly our point. When any of us are handled like enemies of the state, when civil and political human rights are violated by the state, all of us are injured. Then we are all affected and become extremely distrustful. That is the situation today in Kent County NB.

    There are no comparable information releases for non-Indigenous people involved in environmental protection or social justice action across Canada, or specifically here in NB. However, we can be sure there is a long general and a shorter “watch-list” for non-Indigenous persons as well. At the community level, we grassroots people are all in this together. As well some non-Indigenous people have been long involved in peace and justice civil disobedience, and many work together with Indigenous communities.

What A Public Consultation Meeting re: the Anti-Terrorism Act would Mean for People in Kent County

another-worldIn this submission, we have not touched on all the problems in Canada’s current national security legislation, policies and programs. As mentioned, only last week we accidentally learned of this consultation process deadline. There are certainly dozens of issues we would like to highlight, but shortness of time makes that impossible. For now, suffice it to say we endorse anything sent in by any chapter of the Council of Canadians, the national office of the Council of Canadians, or from KAIROS, Voices-Voix, or the Canadian Section of Amnesty International.

Our immediate request is that your Committee come to Kent County NB to hear from people directly how we feel about being made to look like enemies of the state. Speaking for our Chapter members, and advocating also for all our diverse Water Protection allies, you need to see our faces and hear our voices to understand what needs to change and why.

After the treatment many of us endured, we need to know you care enough to take the time to do this. It may be a first step to rebuilding trust. As former NWT Premier Kawfki says, we are all in this together. There is no Planet B. We need to figure out how to get along and pull this planet back from the brink of ecoapocalypse.

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copied to:
Scott Bardsley, Media Coordinator/Minister of Public Safety; scott.bardsley@canada.ca

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An Open Letter re: the Outstanding NB Medical Officer of Health’s Report on Glyphosate Herbicides

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Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/KentCountyChapterCoC/?fref=ts
email: coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com
June 28, 2016

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Government of New Brunswick
HSBC Place, Floor: 5
P. O. Box 5100, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5G8
transmitted by email: Jennifer.Russell@gnb.ca

Dear Dr. Russell:

We need to see that report on glyphosate that you promised we would have before the spray season begins. We need to see that report now. It is not clear to us if your report has been scrapped, suppressed, or something else has happened.

Dr. Russell, the spray season is upon us. Both CN Rail and NB Power have already publicly released their approved spray plans. Timber industries have already compiled their lists of acreage they want to spray for their monoculture conifer plantations. Their applications for taxpayer-financed provincial silviculture spraying are being reviewed, and they anticipate approvals within the next few weeks.

We remember all too well how the government of that day tried to bury Dr. Cleary’s report on fracking in 2012. They knew they could not “control” her when it came to matters of public health, and they knew the report did not agree with their stated view that fracking is perfectly safe and would be great for NB. A similar situation potentially exists with this matter because in recent weeks, Minister Denis Landry and Premier Brian Gallant have both said glyphosate is safe.

On May 18th, I and eleven other New Brunswickers hand-delivered a formal complaint to the New Brunswick Ombudsman. It addresses matters pertaining to the “no cause” termination of the former Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Dr. Eilish Cleary. Our major concern is the status of Dr. Cleary’s promise to investigate and report re: the risks of glyphosate herbicide compounds on population and environmental health. Our conversation with NB Ombudsman Charles Murray is ongoing.

During her exemplary tenure as CMOH, Dr. Cleary established a very high standard for independent and comprehensive research, both with her peer-acclaimed 2012 report on population impacts of shale gas development, and in the Health Impact Assessments model developed in 2015 for the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing. Since we learned that Dr. Cleary was put on leave and then dismissed, I am only one of thousands of New Brunswickers who are concerned that we will not see a comprehensive and independent report from the Office of the CMOH on glyphosate herbicide spray use in our province.

In her communication to me promising this report (sent August 14, 2015), Dr. Cleary said that her office would develop “a plan” for reporting “in the coming year.” In response to the issues I raised on behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Dr. Cleary also made the following comments:

  • concurrence with the IARC/WHO conclusion that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”;
  • there is need investigate “the nature, duration and intensity of the exposure to the toxins in this province” and to look into the high incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma among men in NB;
  • any further protections needed to protect the population in New Brunswick would be independently developed and not curtailed by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency conclusions.

On September 24, 2015, I wrote the former-CMOH concerning some additional issues raised by members of our group. You responded to this letter, Dr. Russell, on November 9th, as follows:

  • re: “cases of poor compliance with setback distances, inadequate signage and ineffective advance notice of spraying,” your “office will bring these issues forward to the Department of Environment and Local Government which regulates these aspects of pesticide use”;
  • regarding when we could expect the report: “it is our understanding that its use is seasonal so we do not expect any significant spraying between now and the summer of 2016. We anticipate completing our action plan in advance of the next spraying season.” Subsequently, in a communication to Dr. Caroline Lubbedarcy, you promised the report this Spring.

Dr. Cleary’s impending and then actual dismissal broke in the media in early December 2015. At that time, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Minister of Health, and the Premier all affirmed that this report was forthcoming as originally promised. Spring is over, and the spray season has begun. Where is the report?

I am sure you are aware that new research is coming out all the time on these herbicide compounds.

A literature review by 14 diverse scientists called Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment Health on February 17, 2016. You will find the content in the appendices especially alarming. Other research suggests that glyphosate on its own is not nearly as bad as the complex herbicide formulation, glyphosate PLUS additives and adjutants, that make it work and are protected as “trade secrets.” As I understand it, these additional substances are what carry the glyphosate across cell walls and increase the hazards by untold magnitudes in a multitude of ways. Of huge concern to scientists studying glyphosate is that its use is so widespread: people’s exposures to the residue are pandemic, and tests show high concentrations in humans.

I am sure you are also aware that a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirmed government has a rightful mandate to apply the “precautionary principle” on the directly related matter of pesticides. The Consensus Statement referenced above clearly advocates for caution and care, and is part of the reason we are convinced that the precautionary principle must be applied to use of glyphosate here in New Brunswick. The precautionary principle can be understood as: first, do no harm; and, second, avoid doing things when there is a reasonable likelihood this could cause harm. The principle applies until the safety of the matter in question can be established.

Thousands and thousands of New Brunswickers share the concerns I have penned on behalf of our Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. Valid population and environmental health research of the risks associated with these compounds is urgently needed. We sincerely hope that the report you have been working on will meet the tests for being valid, in depth and independent.

Please send me the report that we are promised.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl
Chairperson, Kent County NB Chapter – Council of Canadians

Copies:

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Remarks to the Hon. Brian Kenny, the Most Important Cabinet Minister in New Brunswick Government

On March 2, 2016, 17 member groups in the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN) attended a 1.5 hours meeting with Brian Kenny, Minister of the Environment for New Brunswick, and three of his senior staff. Thank you to NBEN’s Mary Ann Coleman and Raissa Marks for organizing this opportunity for an exchange of information and issues.

Major items discussed included: how “regional planning” might help with environmental protection (eg. through increased mandates to the regional service district committees); water protection legislation – including wetlands, and enforcement of riparian buffer regulations; the Environmental Trust Fund; and, the urgency of climate action and moving on to renewables.

During this session, the Ministerial staff set out their current major priorities and here is what I recorded from their remarks in approximate order of urgency:

  • modernizing municipal legislation (now 50 years old apparently)
  • updating the regulations associated with this legislation
  • working with other departments to define priorities and capture these in “statements of interest”
  • a comprehensive water strategy
  • improvements to wetlands policies

Concurrent with all that is making the department’s work more transparent, and various digital information enhancements that are already underway.

While looking at this list, it is important to remember that Brian Kenny is Minister for the Environment AND Local Government (one department). On reflection, it appears that they are putting their eggs in the basket of local government as their approach to improving protection of the environment. An interesting idea – not adequate certainly, but might well help if done properly. A lot can be accomplished through land use planning tools if used properly. So folks, if you want to make a point on municipal or regional planning systems, policies, issues, concerns, etc. — now’s the time!

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I took this photo so am not in it. That’s the Minister at the head table, on the left in front of the screen. I attended on behalf of the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians. As always, when I have the chance to speak truth to power, I think about which of my closest allies are not “At this Table,” and what they might like me to communicate that seems appropriate to the situation.

Here is a picture of me and my confrere Mark D’Arcy who attended on behalf of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. image
Mark used his allotted time to speak about climate change issues and the need for the Government of New Brunswick to do its own EIA on the Pipeline proposal. Mark strongly emphasized the Minister’s Duty of Care in regards to the possibly serious, even lethal, risks related to both these issues. This photo was taken by Caroline Lubbedarcy, who represented Stop Spraying in New Brunswick, and used her alloted time to press for a full review of health and environmental hazards of herbicide spraying by forestry companies and NB Power, as well as an end to the spraying.

It is also important to mention Jim Emberger was present, speaking on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. He addressed many of the points included in NBASGA’s Statement on the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing Report, including the lack of social license, the science case against fracking, and the urgency of NB government undertaking nation-to-nation relationship-building with First Nations . Later in the meeting, Jim spoke about the importance of government recognizing that each region of the province is very different, something he has learned through NBASGA.

Unfortunately, none of our Indigenous environmental protection allies were present. For me, a smudge and a reading of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would have been a welcome addition. Next time?

In the order of our NBEN agenda, I was given the opportunity to make the final presentation, before the wrap-up. Following are my remarks…


 

“The Final Report of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, released last week, speaks of the distrust, mistrust, and alienation of New Brunswickers regarding our provincial government. The Commission heard this loud and clear in Kent County.  In fact, Commission members seemed to stop in their tracks and feel overwhelmed by our perspectives here, about how government has betrayed us.  (∗ : in the footnote on this post are links to submissions that prove this sentiment.)

“Another example of that betrayal connects to something that was discussed at the outset of this meeting today. Our Kent Regional District Service Commission passed resolutions unanimously opposing the new Forestry Management Act, and opposing Shale Gas Fracking Exploration in Kent County (actual vote 15-1 abstention, I believe). But, Mr. Minister, as you know, there is no systemic pathway for resolutions from the Service Districts into the government here in Fredericton. The fact that the Government of New Brunswick totally ignored the only local body that represents our municipalities and local service districts contributed mightily to our sense that government deserted us to our fate of being a “Sacrifice Zone” for resource extraction industries.

“I am going to assume that you, Mr. Minister, and your three staff at the head table, have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, perhaps godchildren… When thinking about the future they will face, it is clear and evident that your Ministry is the most important department in the Government of New Brunswick.

“At the core of your mandate is ensuring environmental sustainability in this province we all love. You have the tools and responsibilities for all manner of impact assessment, regulatory powers, inspection and enforcement services, in order to protect our environment. There is a huge urgency to bring all these into active service due to the ecoapocolypse that is lurking over our shoulders due to our rapidly deteriorating, changing climate.

“For us in Kent County, your department certainly has the most urgent and important mandate in this government:

  • We love our Acadian Forest, and all its inhabitants.  We want our Forest Relations to survive and thrive. This means stopping the rapacious clear-cutting, the softwood plantations, and the spraying of poisonous herbicides.
  • We want water protection legislation for our fresh drinking water, our inland fisheries, and our precious wetlands.
  • We want shale gas mothballed for the long term by legislation. Your department’s mandate re: “impact” and “sustainability” strengthen your hand at arguing this in cabinet.
  • We are passionate about biodiversity. The diversity of wildlife in our region — the forests, the waters, and the soils — contributes directly to the livelihoods of virtually everyone in Kent County, all the way down in scale to the bees we rely on to pollinate our fruits and vegetables in our gardens — so take a look at the neonicotinoids as well, please.
  • We fully support implementation of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process, proposed by the former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary to the NB Fracking Commission. The Commission endorsed this approach but in an inappropriate and ineffectual manner. An HIA trumps an EIA, and as Dr. Cleary pointed out, the current EIA processes will and can be addressed and included within the broader scope of the HIA process she outlined. This is what we want to see. It will begin to restore our confidence that government is capable of looking after us over here in Kent County.

“On behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, and all our united Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Anglo environmentalist allies in Kent County, I beg that you hear what I am saying. There is no time to lose on these matters. Please instruct your staff to walk into all interdepartmental meetings — and you, please,Minister Kenny, walk into all Cabinet meetings — with your heads held high, insisting on full implementation of the environmental protections your broad mandate offers.

“Yours is the most important Ministry in the New Brunswick government. Our future generations are depending on you.”

Ann Pohl, Chairperson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter, March 2, 2016

 

 

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∗ See for example: “Powerless Citizen” and “Illusion of Certainty”,  Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking , Lise Johnson’s Story, No Shale…, Kent County Chapter Council of CanadiansNotre environnement, notre choix / Our Environment, Our ChoiceYvon Daigle’s Submission to the Commission, The Requirement to be InformedIt’s about Trust, To Make Critical Decisions, We Must Employ Critical Thinking, Personal Submission to the Shale Gas CommissionGroupe de développement durable du Pays de Cocagne Sustainable Development Groupe.

Question: is there a Conflict of Interest in the NB Commission on Hydro-Fracking?

Some Questions about the Legitimacy of the NB Fracking Commission

KENT NOT FOR SHALE

1   About the McLaughlins 

A man named Andrew McLaughlin was recently hired by Major Drilling. According to their website, Major Drilling “is one of the world’s largest drilling services companies primarily serving the mining industry,” and “provides all types of drilling services including surface and underground coring, directional, reverse circulation, sonic, geotechnical, environmental, water-well, coal-bed methane and shallow gas.” Sounds like this Andrew McLaughlin is closely associated with deep shale fracking operations.

Here’s the question: is Andrew the son (or other close relation) of John McLaughlin, the man who is the Chair of the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing? Someone told me Andy is John’s boy. Mind you, I did not want to believe that Premier Brian Gallant’s Fracking Commission could be skewed in favour of the fracking industry, who are known for their “drill, baby, drill” practices because that is the only way to make deep shale extraction possible. So, what’s the scoop on this?

2   About Major Drilling

The CEO and President of Major Drilling is Francis McGuire, the former Deputy Minister of Business NB and former head of NB Power during the failed attempt to sell NB’s electric system to Quebec. Here is some background info about Francis and his commitment to Major Drilling. This man seems to be motivated by money and the gambling challenge of private industry, at the cost of anything else perhaps…

For starters, Francis’ debacle on the NB Power sell-off issue makes it clear the man has no idea about the significance of “social license.” Now, he is not in government any longer, so a person might say he does not need to be concerned with social license issues, UNLESS he is flouting the integrity of the NB Fracking Commission by hiring someone who can use family connections to make sure the Commission comes up with the recommendation to proceed with fracking.

Here are the questions: Assuming for a moment that Andrew IS John’s son, and I have no way of knowing this for sure but someone told me he is, then which came first: the chicken or the egg? Did Andrew get hired by Major Drilling to sway the Fracking Commission, or did Andrew know the Fracking Commission will recommend lifting the Moratorium so he took this job to be in the right place at the right time? Or both perhaps?

3   About Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna, former Premier of our province, is a huge booster of fracking in New Brunswick. Frank is also buddy-buddy close with Francis McGuire.

Frank’s 2014 speech in Saint John is probably the best synopsis of his real views on the topic. He not only thinks shale gas fracking is the salvation of the province, he also derides the idea of listening to shale gas opponents, calling us an “extremely vocal, anti-fracking minority” and “blowhards” who “seize control of the agenda” using “mob rule.”

Here are the facts on the matter of whether those of us who oppose fracking are a minority. In all surveys done to date and released to the public, our province’s population is split just about 50-50 on the simple topic of shale gas extraction industrial development. However, as soon as the question is complicated with balancing this development against the priority of protecting our environment, the environment has won in all public opinion surveys. In one memorable one during the Alward government, more than 80% of the population said they would not support shale gas development if it could negatively affect the natural environment. We all know it is absolutely impossible to “do” shale gas without damaging the environment.

On November 5 2015, Frank spoke at a business conference in Saint John. Not normally a patient man, he is quoted as saying that the fracking moratorium (the same one he abhorred in 2014) is now fine with him. “When it comes to the provincial fracking moratorium,” he “is satisfied” with “the process,” and says we (industry) just “need to be patient.”

Here are the questions: Is Frank patient now because he knows his crony Old Boys network already has the fix in? Does this seem like a logical conclusion for Frank to reach, because of the direct line between Frank and Francis at Major Drilling, especially as it seems that Andrew may be the son of NB Fracking Commission Chair John? Or is there some other reason Frank all of a sudden feels the Fracking Commission is doing a fine job?

4   About the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing’s Work

The thing is, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) just took a gigantic step backwards on gaining social license for any industrial activities that could have or will have negative impacts on health and environment. In December, GNB fired for “no cause” the one person in the entire civil  service that the medical community and grassroots communities knew we could trust to speak the truth about whether provincial policies were good for people and the environment that sustains us. I am speaking of our former exemplary Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eilish Cleary. So, like many others, I am in a state of hyper-vigilance about what GNB has up their sleeves next.

As Cheryl Robertson, the member of the Fracking Commission who does their folksy communicating, has posted on their website, “one of the core findings of our work” is that “distrust of public institutions runs deep” among New Brunswickers. Good one, Sherlock! She continues, “There is anger, frustration and a strong sense of weariness on all sides…”

Here are the questions: given the obvious pro-fracking standpoint of Major Drilling can the Government of New Brunswick set to rest the questions that are floating around right now, about whether Andrew McLaughlin may or may not be directed related to the Commission’s Chair John McLaughlin? If this suggested malfeasance is indeed true, can the Fracking Commission Chair explain how this is compatible with the Commission’s online Code of Conduct? Is this perhaps a true conflict of interest? Was it declared? If it was declared, where and when? And even if it was declared, does that make it right?

 

It is an unfortunate thing when a citizen of this province is forced to address
a major issue like this one in an online blog, simply asking questions…
From my standpoint, if this is confirmed, it totally justifies the public’s
deep distrust of GNB, and would be one more nail in the coffin of social license.

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— Ann Pohl wrote this on February 1, 2016 —

THIS IS GOING TO HURT

We are in a real mess.

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Other Policing Issues — directly relevant to RCMP Conduct in Kent County during 2013 Anti-Fracking Protests

November 12, 2015

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To:      The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP

From:  Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians
(Author: Ann Pohl, Chairperson <coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com> )

Introduction

Our Kent County chapter of the Council of Canadians, a group of citizens previously known as Upriver Environment Watch, has been corresponding with your office for more than a year. In addition, many allies in Kent County NB have been cooperating with Commission staff on your investigation into policing conduct during the 2013 anti-fracking environmental protection and protest activities in our region. Following is supplementary information on several issues that are very closely related to your investigation.

It is likely you are as frustrated as us about the length of time it is taking to produce your final report: almost 2.5 years from original complaints. We believe it is not the writing process that is slowing you down. Your Commission has the task of slogging through a mass of complicated complaints, attempting to verify information presented to you, reconstructing events, and seeking interviews with the RCMP to corroborate or deny these complaints. Then there are the tasks of reviewing pertinent RCMP policies and procedures (or lack thereof), and analyzing your findings. Not the least of your problems must be actually getting relevant RCMP paper and digital files.

Still, this time delay is worrisome for a very practical reason. While your commission carries on this investigation, some of the same experiences we had with the RCMP are being repeated in other regions of Canada.

If your report addresses only 2013 circumstances without at least acknowledging the matters we present below, there is risk of producing a “freeze frame” document that makes it look like the issues are in the past. To our knowledge, Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment: Criminal Threats to the Canadian Petroleum Industry remains the RCMP’s perspective on united groups of people acting to protect the environment. If this document is still central to RCMP analysis, nothing has changed or will change. We hope this is already within the scope of your investigation.

We do not wish to further delay your work with the information below. However, we do think it is important that you consider, as you write this report, the “2015 reality” regarding RCMP operations and strategies at protests and protector camps that involve Canadian settler and indigenous environmental activists.

Standard Operation Techniques Still Being Used,
…and Sometimes Not Used, in Telling Ways…

Much of the information in the next few pages comes from a Forum on Fracking sponsored by KAIROS, an ecumenical Christian network that unites eleven national churches and religious orders on work related to ecological justice and human rights. Motivated by this mission, KAIROS sponsored a two-day national forum on fracking, environmental justice and human rights, held October 30/31, 2015.

I was a speaker at the Moncton end of the forum, which was linked by digital technology to a simultaneous forum in Vancouver. Two indigenous women at the Vancouver portion spoke about policing abuses of rights that occurred in the environmental protection campaigns with which they are involved. Some of the matters they raised are identical to some of the issues we have raised here in New Brunswick in regards to RCMP conduct against our united anti-fracking movement. Following is some information about this, from my notes from their presentations, intermixed with some commentary from me.

From the Unist’ot’en Camp, Freda Huson:

In Unist’ot’en, for six years, one family has led a peaceful occupation of their territorial lands to assert protection of that area. Their family territory is threatened by environmental disruption from a pipeline and a mine. Their non-violent direct action has met continual challenges by the industry and government. From what I understand, the indigenous people there developed their own checkpoints on a logging road, at their territorial boundary. This checkpoint was based on “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” protocol as a condition for entry into their territory. 1

This year, as the resource extraction industries were becoming more impatient about entering Unist’ot’en territory, the RCMP constructed their own checkpoint outside the indigenous territory on the same logging road. They were stopping cars, and asking all people in them to show their ID, thus intimidating them. RCMP were also doing such things as telling visitors from other countries that they could be deported for this

This report is very similar to what we experienced here in Kent County in 2013: on Airport Road in July, and on Highway 11 in November and December. RCMP stopped people going into, and sometimes away from, protest sites. They asked for ID from drivers and passengers. When people passed police checkpoints frequently, it seemed their names were cross- checked. Some felt intimidated, possibly even targeted for harassment.

john with rcmp

Above is one photo of this actually happening. In this occurrence, which was in November 2013, I was riding in the small backseat of a half-ton truck. We had left the protest site on Highway 11, and there was another passenger in the front seat on the right. It was a cold day and we were on our way to the nearby town to pick up coffee for our allies. Just a few kilometers down the road, we noticed there was an RCMP car behind us. As we made our way up the ramp at our exit, the cruiser’s lights and siren went on, and it was clear they wanted us to pull over. When we pulled over, the two officers in the cruiser came to either side of the truck. We first noticed the one by the driver (shown here). The driver rolled down his window, and was asked to present identification for himself and the vehicle. When he asked why, he was told this was just a “document check.” As the driver was gathering the paperwork together, we noticed that the second officer was standing by the front passenger window. That passenger rolled down her window, and the officer asked for her identification. She began looking for her wallet. At that point, I intervened and told her that she did not have to provide this, under these circumstances. She told the officer what I said, and the officer went away. Sadly, these officials carry guns and have the capacity to turn violent, to arrest, and to otherwise make civilian lives miserable, so all too often people allow their rights to be violated — or perhaps do not know they have the right to decline.

check stop Irving Road

The only reason I was aware passengers absolutely did not have to provide ID during a so-called routine “document check” is because, in July 2013, human rights lawyers told us so,  because this form of direct intimidation was happening so frequently. The July 2013 photo above shows a “document check” on Airport Road. This is akin to the discredited practice of “carding.”

As Unist’ot’en spokeswoman Freda Huson explained, the RCMP document checks were really making their supporters fearful. I am not certain of the chronology of events, but they did report this to the BC Civil Liberties Association. Around the same time, the RCMP tried to facilitate the signing of an MOU (Memorandum of Agreement) that would cover conduct on both sides. Huson said that they noticed one of clauses buried in the document said that the indigenous people were agreeing that the RCMP could enter their territory to “keep the peace” while the pipeline company got their work done. They eventually had to get a lawyer to send a letter to the RCMP, and for now things are not as confrontational. 2

Here are two big questions. Why do the original Peoples and other citizens of Canada need to get lawyers to remind the RCMP what they can legally do or not do? Why is it up to us to put them in check when they are operating outside the law?

Although this was not mentioned during the KAIROS forum, according to social media and eyewitness reports, apparently there was recently a massive, hopefully temporary, influx of RCMP tactical units and such personnel in communities around the Unist’ot’en camp area. There was serious concern that this huge build-up of RCMP presence signaled the onset of preparations for an intervention/invasion similar to what happened here in Kent County on Route 134, in mid-October 2013. Public call-outs for support seem to have averted this for the time being. Unfortunately, that chapter of their ordeal may not be behind them.

From the Speaker for Lax Kw’alaams, Christine Martin:

Lax Kw’alaams is a territory in what is now called British Columbia where nine of the fourteen Tsimshian tribes reside. More than seventy days ago, in August 2015, Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donny Wesley) began a continual occupation of their territory to protect the salmon habitat and other ecological features of that region, for future generations of all life.

A core issue in this campaign is that this is one of two most important habitats in Canada for salmon, who are now a species at risk on both coasts, due to industrial activity and perhaps other causes. Specifically, the place called Flora Bank is of enormous importance to the salmon, and is a sacred place to the indigenous people of this region. The young salmon go to this place where fresh and salt waters mix, to “get tough enough to leave” the estuaries and travel out into the open saltwater sea. Destruction of this water habitat is inevitable if the industry (“Petronas” in this case) proceeds with its plan to construct an LNG terminal in that vicinity.

The reason I am introducing this to you is to make sure you understand that the people who are trying to protect this area are doing so for the very best of reasons. More about this issue is covered in this editorial blog Council backs Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief’s letter to prime minister opposing LNG project, which was written by Brent Patterson, the Political Director of our parent organization, the national Council of Canadians. As you will see in Brent’s column, the people already voted to not accept the corporation’s offered financial package of $1B in return for consenting to construction of the LNG terminal.

Up until a few weeks ago, a modest amount of “test drilling” was already taking place there. Damage has already begun, which was reported at the KAIROS forum in some detail. (See the link to both Ms. Martin’s and Ms. Huson’s presentations at this forum, in endnote #2 below). As I understand it, very recently the B.C. government over-ruled the Indigenous Peoples vote and announced that permits had been issued for test drilling. This resulted in an immediate increase increase in the number of drilling-rigged ships now working in this water – to a total of six! These permits were issued on the grounds that test drilling of the river bed would not impact the salmon and other sea-life habitat. The indigenous protectors see damage happening, but as Ms. Martin pointed out in her presentation, all the environmental protections that used to exist, including the DFO patrols themselves, were eliminated in recent years by the federal government. So the indigenous protectors have no one in the public service to call on for help.

While relating all of this and much more, Christine Martin also mentioned that they had to contend with the RCMP escorting and protecting the corporation’s drill-rigs. That comment immediately brought to mind this picture from our region in 2013.

RCMP guarding Thumper

Is it any wonder that so many environmental protectors believe the RCMP is only in our communities to protect the corporate agenda and their equipment, and that they care nothing about the destroyed natural environment we will be passing down to our grandchildren?

It is worth noting a comment made by another panelist at the Moncton portion of the forum. Kim Cornelissen, past vice-president of the Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique, was presenting on how a defacto moratorium against fracking was achieved in Quebec. After listening to presentations from these women in B.C. and from me, Kim commented that in Quebec they did not have the same issues with police. I thought about this and concluded it was because the Indigenous Peoples of Quebec region did not have a significant organizational role in their alliance. It makes me embarrassed about our government and our national police force to say this.

On a related note, I just returned from a protest action in Ottawa called Climate Welcome, organized by 350.org. The purpose of this action was to bring climate justice and renewable energy to the attention of our new Prime Minister, prior to the very important global climate issues conference being held in Paris in a few weeks. A sit-in was part of the plan, and 350.org is a very responsible organization. So, there were numerous legal information sessions and briefings for those of us who were willing to risk arrest to bring our message to the Prime Minister. I found it hard to believe what I was being told during these pre-action briefings, about the civility and laissez-faire attitude we might expect from the RCMP. Once out on the road, I was utterly dumbfounded that we did in fact illegally block driveways and roadways for multiple hours on several days and not even one arrest occurred. We did not even get severe warnings from the RCMP. Clearly there are diverse sets of standards for how activists are to be handled, depending on: how much media is at hand; how many indigenous people are involved; and, what seems the most effective way to muzzle our message that business-as-usual is killing our planet.

A Comment on Catch & Release of Protestors and Protectors

In a Kent County backgrounder from the cusp of 2013-14, we sardonically used the fishing expression “catch and release” to describe an RCMP tactic for intimidating anti-shale gas protestors and environmental protectors in our region. (Although some of the links in that blog are now broken, the information is still valid.)

In this article – Revealed: Police using pre-charge bail to muzzle protesters (from the respected periodical The Guardian), the term “pre-charge bail” is used to denote the same practice by UK police. It is clear that this practice is a violation of human rights as police are acting as judge, jury and executioner without even or ever pressing charges in the majority of cases. We hope that you are looking into this practice in your report. Numerous – too many to count – protestors were scooped up in 2013, read the injunction, and to avoid further legal consequences they were told to sign a statement that they had been read the injunction and would adhere to it. This process amounted to what in the UK is called for “pre-charge bail.” There are just so many ways that this is wrong!

Conclusion

These additional sources of information are being brought to your attention because we want to underscore that the abuses and intrusions we experienced in 2013 in Kent County were not unique to that time and place.

While your Commission struggles to assemble your report on events of that time and place, in 2015 the same violations of human, civil, political, and indigenous rights are taking place in British Columbia and perhaps other places in Canada.

We ask that you consider the information presented above, and hold it in your minds and hearts as you move with all diligence and speed to prepare the report on what happened here in Kent County (Sikniktuk District of Mi’kma’ki) in 2013.


1 Here are some references for more information on “Free, Prior and Informed Consent (“FPIC): See Articles 10, 11, 19, 28, and 29 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is signatory, and also FPIC 101: An Introduction to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

2 For more on this, please take the time to listen to Ms. Huson’s presentation and follow-up questions on the video recording uploaded from the KAIROS Forum. Ms. Huson’s presentation begins at 1:09:30 at that link. After her presentation, and that of Christine Martin (see next page), there is a brief Q & A period which is also relevant. So, kindly stay tuned to the video recording up to c. 1:55:00.

Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking

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NovemBer 12, 2015: Second Submission

TO:  NB COMMISSION ON HYDRAULIC FRACKING

FROM:  Kent County Chapter Council of Canadians
(author Ann Pohl, Chairperson)

On Saturday October 31st, at the KAIROS forum on fracking and human rights issues, I happened to meet Commissioner Cheryl Robertson, who was in attendance for that portion of the forum. Ms. Robertson confirmed for me that the Commission is not yet informed on the two matters I address in this submission, which relate to the first and fourth points in the Commission’s mandate.

Civil Rights Violations are a Solid Barrier to
Obtaining Social License for Fracking

The material in this section is extracted from a memo submitted by our Chapter to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, who are investigating RCMP conduct during the 2013 anti-fracking protests here in Kent County. The serious nature of many underlying issues and complaints about RCMP conduct is underscored by the fact that, midway into this investigation, the Commissioner for this civilian oversight body filed his own complaint with the RCMP. This text below was forwarded to the Civilian Commission on September 25, 2015, from our Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. It was written to respond to a specific request for submissions from the Civilian Commission – on a matter not directly relevant to your Commission on Hydraulic Fracking. For your convenience, the text below has been slightly edited. Should you wish to refer to the original version for context, this is the link. Here, then, is an account of some of the civil and political human rights violations experienced during the anti-fracking protests in 2013.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP acknowledges hearing from many witnesses and complainants who expressed that the conduct of the RCMP during protests against fracking had led to a lack of faith and trust in the police force…

It is very clear to us that we became targets of a public relations war. From 2010 on, the Government of New Brunswick was determined to shove deep shale gas industrial development down the throats of rural New Brunswickers. This meant we had to accept the new style of hydraulic refracturing – called “fracking” – which is clearly dangerous. Communities across the province were in an uproar over this. There was and is no evidence that there are any real benefits to the communities that get fracked, but initially the provincial government used simple bluster and positive assertion to try to convince the public about the economic benefits and safety of deep shale gas fracking. As the truth started to come out, especially in peer-acclaimed research on benefits, risk, and hazards found in the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (September, 2012), it became evident that the government was losing its public relations war.

By 2013, it became patently obvious that corporate and public officials (both federal and provincial) were concerned only with promoting climate-killing “extreme” petrochemical industrial development. The pro-fracking elite was desperate. They needed a new public relations strategy, and decided to demonize those of us who wish to protect the environment and community health from fracking. Their public relations war was tweaked a few times, and ultimately re-aimed to focus on the danger of indigenous people and their environmentalist allies.

As mentioned below, we can even identify the time period when the focus telescoped from saying we were all dangerous, to zeroing in on indigenous protectors as the primary targets. The “wrongs” committed in 2013 by officials during the anti-fracking actions are many – most severely: removals, arrests, charges, conditions, and sentences. These were often done in disregard for the pain inflicted, or the cultural and spiritual world of the protestors and protectors…

1.  It is apparent that the RCMP have not been educated on the common knowledge about the Peace & Friendship Treaties, in which there was no surrender of land or resources by the Mi’kmaq People. It was evident as well that the RCMP have not benefited from cultural competency or anti-oppression training.

2.  The issues at stake were basically a civil matter, where a corporation wanted to do something in and around communities that opposed this activity. People have a right to non-violent protest against such activity, a right that is guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution as well as the various international human rights accords to which the Government of Canada is signatory. The people involved in protest and protection resistance were well aware of their rights. This is why there were so many elders, women and children involved in the actions. No one expected the things that happened.

3.   The “Crown” failed in its obligations under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and additional legal precepts established by the Supreme Court of Canada and international law. The “Crown” in this case is the Province of New Brunswick, because management of natural resources falls under provincial jurisdiction.

4.   The underlying purpose of all this activism was first and foremost to protect the water. This is a poor region where there are few actual jobs. Most people of all cultures here make their livelihood at least in part from the land, rivers, ocean, and forests. Water is essential for the survival of people and these natural resource areas. People were concerned that the loss of good fresh water would mean having to leave the area where their family and cultures have lived for many generations, and in the case of the Mi’kmaq People since time immemorial. There appeared to be no understanding by the RCMP that protection of the water was the underlying issue for all community members involved in resisting the corporation’s activities, and a core issue for the extended communities supporting these activists.

5.   The Government of New Brunswick contracts the RCMP as the NB provincial police force. Because the force is first and foremost a federal one, Indigenous people in particular have established expectations and protocols regarding the RCMP. To a certain extent, so do all Canadians. To enforce its pro-fracking policy, the New Brunswick provincial government exerted extreme influence and pressure on the RCMP to “break” the non-violent resistance of Kent County environmental protectors and protestors. This alone was the major factor creating the alienation between community members and the force. We knew that the RCMP were being used politically to advance a corporate/government agenda we opposed. None of the authorities cared to consider the relationship damage they were creating.

With this mandate, the RCMP operated as a military-style force to implement the government policy that shale gas development would go ahead despite community uproar across the province. The criminalization of protestors and protectors was a choice made by RCMP commanders who instructed the forces on the line.

6.   During the initial days of the corporation’s activity in Kent County (June 3 – June 20 2013), the RCMP appeared to be equally concerned with criminalizing both non-Indigenous and Indigenous activists, as they faced non-violent resistance from a united front of Acadians, Anglophones, Mi’kmaq, and other allies. However, by June 21, which is ironically National Aboriginal Day, the focus of the RCMP switched to total concern with Indigenous activists. The Civilian Commission for RCMP complaints heard from various individuals (both non-Indigenous and Indigenous) about this biased conduct, related to June 21st and the following weeks and months.

7.   Ours is a tightly networked rural area where most people know or are related to each other in some way, across all three founding cultural communities. Many of the protestors and protectors also have extended family members employed in the RCMP. Informally through community networks, it is our impression that many officers with local Kent County RCMP detachments were not in agreement with the way that the force was commanded to operate during these months. The voices and reasons of these local peace officers, as to why they disagreed, should have been heard and considered fully. That is the way good community policing is done.

8.   The events of October 17 2013 were the most obvious breach of people’s constitutional rights. Looking at an affidavit by Mark Lenehan, prepared by legal representatives for SWN Resources Canada on October 9 2013 (this has already been submitted to the Commission), we see quotes from an RCMP operational commander at the protest site. Sgt. Robichaud tells Mr. Lenehan that going into the 134 camp with Lenehan to serve papers re: the civil action injunction would amount to “inciting a riot” and “igniting a powder keg.” Ann Pohl is one of the people specifically named in the injunction related to this affidavit. Prior to October 13 2013, when Ann visited the camp, she was assured by RCMP on duty at the police blockades (located at either end of the protest area) that she could enter the area without risking arrest. Specifically, she was told it was not the RCMP’s job to enforce a civil action injunction.

Despite all the apparent tolerance and understanding by RCMP on duty during the weeks leading up to the October 17 commando raid on the protest site, we all saw what happened that day. On October 17, the RCMP’s callous disregard for human rights and safety of people was a stark contrast to their easy-going attitude in the weeks before. This deeply hardened community attitudes against the force.

9.   There are a number of specific issues of great concern relative to the October 17 dawn RCMP commando raid on the protest camp. Just a few are mentioned here:

     ♦    A sacred gift of Tobacco was provided by the RCMP to some of the Mi’kmaq protectors the night before the raid. Everything that happened after was a complete violation of the significance and protocols associated with this gifting.

     ♦    As it was being launched, all Kent County roads leading to the site were closed EXCEPT the roads that go from Elsipogtog First Nation. To many people, this suggests that the RCMP were actually baiting First Nations people to come into the fracas that the RCMP troops were creating at the site, so that it would appear to the media and the outside world that the only people involved in the protest were Indigenous.

     ♦    Two very different stories were used to explain the rationale for the police assault. Early that morning, the RCMP brought in trucks equipped with powerful public address systems. These were used to proclaim the civil law injunction as a pretext for the invasion. Yet, hours later, the RCMP commented they had to invade the protest camp because they had “intelligence” about a build-up of weapons on site, and feared things were going to turn very dangerous. As there was almost no verifiable evidence of a weapons buildup, both excuses contradict what RCMP said a week earlier (see Lenehan affidavit). Dishonesty undermines public faith in the trustworthiness and credibility of our public servants.

     ♦    The burning of the police cars was major news across the country. We are all convinced that it was not done by anyone who was part of our united movement to protect the environment. Among all Kent County protestors and protectors, and our allies, there is a wide-spread belief that agents working for some arm of the RCMP or a sister federal force are responsible for the burning of the police cars.

            Your Commission is well aware of this view, from complaints and comments you have heard: unusual RCMP activity immediately before the fires appeared; querying what accelerant could actually cause the fires to start so quickly; failure by RCMP to protect the crime scene of the burned cars; why the cars appeared to be lacking standard police communications equipment; the possibility that the cars were deliberately decommissioned at a specialty shop the week previous; the cars were left at the road for so long after the burning; knowledge that such provocative acts have been done before by the RCMP (eg, at the G-20 protests, etc.); and many more points.

            The evidence points to this conclusion: the RCMP burned their own cars, or hired someone to do so, in order to affect public opinion. This is a kick in the teeth to the entire community, making those of us involved in non-violent resistance to protect our environment for future generations look like hoodlums.

     ♦    Many people continue to face charges and other legal and financial consequences as a result of this RCMP action. For some, this has been devastating. Some people pleaded guilty as they had no financial means to defend their rights through the justice system.

At the heart of all the issues related to policing during these protests is ethics and fairness, as well as the use of tired old military strategies such as “divide and conquer.”

The RCMP have consistently attempted to insinuate that there are significant differences between those of us involved in the protests and protection actions, and that these differences follow cultural boundaries. There is no truth to this. It is an undeniable fact that greater than 90% of Kent County residents are united in our determination to protect the natural environment that sustains us all. Local environmental groups and communities did a research survey in the summer of 2013 to ascertain this fact. The findings were subsequently reported to the Kent County Regional Service Commission, who on July 18 2013 passed a resolution by a vote of 16-1 to ask the provincial government to stop the corporate exploration, until Kent residents can be provided with “a guarantee for our environment and we can inform citizens about what’s going on.”

We are now, in fact, more united than ever in our collective determination to protect this territory we share in “Peace and Friendship.” Some of the community members being interviewed by the Civilian Commission‘s investigators were led into a field of inquiry about divisions between activists based on cultural heritage. We sincerely hope that these questions do not reflect biased attitudes by Civilian Commission personnel. We hope these questions were asked only to determine the relative validity of information provided by the RCMP to the investigators and staff of the Civilian Commission. But, we have learned not to trust.

That said, we have clearly stated above that we note that Indigenous protestors and protectors were handled in a much rougher and meaner manner by RCMP than non-Indigenous ones. Most of the issues that arose over this period in regards to the Indigenous protectors and protestors are addressed in the final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, submitted by The Honourable Sidney B. Linden (Inquiry Commissioner) on May 30, 2007 to the Government of Ontario.

Echoing specific points highlighted in that report, it was clear from the conduct of RCMP officers here in Kent County that the members of the force were never briefed on why people were engaged in these protests, occupations, and actions of non-violent civil resistance. RCMP were also not made aware of the significance of the “colour of right” (another point highlighted in the Ipperwash Inquiry report), in regards to the sincere motivations of all protestors and protectors. People engaged in actions were making a good faith assertion of their right (even obligation) to defend their water, land, air, communities, and family health, because the threat being posed to these things would result in their irretrievable loss. It is the fault of the provincial government that Kent County neighbours and allies felt this desperate, but the RCMP needs to be a peace force for all the people, not for the government.

The most important fact for your NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracking to retain from this entire excerpt above is that we have learned the hard way not to trust anything GNB says on this topic. We know that the RCMP work for the Government of New Brunswick, as do you, as did the discredited Louis LaPierre, and as do many civil servants who have participated in the ongoing attempt to force us to accept something that we have rejected.

Through all the above (and much more not in that brief summary), we the Peoples of Kent County stand united in our non-violent, unbending determination to protect our homes, our communities, the health of our families and neighbours, our water, our air, our soil, and the rest of the natural environment that sustains us all. We do so at great cost and sacrifice for many of us, because we want all our grandchildren to have a future here.

We believe that GNB should abandon its retrograde love affair with the very substances that are killing our planet, which have brought our global climate to the precipice of ecological apocalypse. GNB should stop spending our money on deals for petroleum and other related industries, and commissions such as this one (etc.). GNB should massively invest in upscaling of renewable energy research, development and innovation.

The Provincial Government’s Duty for Free, Prior and Informed Consent from Indigenous Peoples

This is the most basic and fundamental requirement of any evaluation about whether or not deep shale gas extraction can be permitted in this region. The previous sentence is all the more true because there is no mention of surrender of resources or land in Mi’kma’ki under the Peace & Friendship Treaties, which are the legally binding agreement documents governing title and shared use of the land in the province of New Brunswick. In short, the Government of New Brunswick holds no true title to the land it has leased to shale gas extraction companies, and it has never consulted properly with First Nation communities on the issuance or terms of these leases.

SWN Resources Canada made this severely cautionary observation in their memo, dated December 22, 2014, addressed to Michael Pearson in the Premier’s Office: “…(T)he necessity for the Crown to effectively execute its obligations to the province’s First Nations under the government’s Duty to Consult Policy remains a primary concern for us… the ultimate responsibility rests with the Crown and we believe the government needs to do more to advance this file.”

Please do not follow the proponent’s (SWN’s) suggestion that the 2011 GNB Duty to Consult Policy sets out a reasonable path, which simply needs better implementation. That policy is wholly inadequate.

Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution specifies the obligations of the Crown to Aboriginal Peoples, and on matters of natural resources the “Crown” is the provincial government. These obligations mean that valid consultation processes are an essential precursor to any infringement on Aboriginal treaty, original, or unceded, territories. In regards to First Nations in specific, this is well-established law in Canada. Several important Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) cases uphold and augment the law on this section of the Constitution.

To address this fourth point of the five conditions that are to be met to lift the moratorium, any process your Commission conducts, or recommendations you develop, will not be adequate. The Government of New Brunswick must understand and implement a “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” (FPIC) process for consultation with the Indigenous Peoples of this region.

The first place you need to go to understand this, and what is meant by “FPIC,” is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Government of Canada is signatory to this Declaration, but under former Prime Minister Harper’s regime this was a long time coming. It only happened because Canada was shamed into it both domestically and internationally. The Harper government was ideologically opposed to recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. It actively promoted Canadian public acceptance of this corporate-based goal, leading to the totally militarized relationship that currently exists between the governments of Canada, and indigenous earth protectors and their environmentalist allies. Through policy, act, law, and covert means, the Harper government enlisted the active support of the RCMP and other state security forces to promote their agenda of repression and oppression. This government did so despite judicial reprimands from the Supreme Court of Canada and massive civil society protests. When the Harper government finally signed the Declaration, it raised specific objections to the text.

On October 18 2015, Canadian voters, including record numbers of Indigenous Peoples, rejected the Harperist vision of a Canada that valued, above all, “Old Stock” Canadians and regressive fossil-fuel corporate agendas. We are now in a new era of Canadian politics. It seems there is interest in restoring Canada’s reputation as a land where fairness, kindness, decency, and respect for diversity are highly valued as social objectives. The newly elected government of Canada under Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau has pledged to fully implement the UNDRIP:

“When I say that we must complete the unfinished work of Confederation, I mean that Canada needs a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Aboriginal communities. A relationship based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. One that is rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One that is guided by the spirit and intent of the original Treaty relationship, and one that respects the decisions of our courts… Reconciliation starts with recognizing and respecting Aboriginal title and rights, including Treaty rights. A Liberal government will do just that. Not only in accordance with Constitutional obligations, but also with those enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…”

To proceed, as New Brunswick seems to be doing, to ignore the huge “elephant in the room” – the issue of Indigenous Rights – is mind-boggling idiocy. This approach is so far out of line with the reality of 2015, one can only wonder: in what century is GNB stuck? New Brunswick has had its head in the sand for far too long, in far too many ways. There is no point continuing in this vein.

To reiterate, reading UNDRIP in tandem with the Treaties, the Canadian Constitution, and relevant SCC decisions, makes it clear that your Commission cannot undertake FPIC. FPIC is the responsibility of the Crown under domestic and international law, and cannot be undertaken by a commission of inquiry such as yours, which has no mandated power to dialogue or negotiate directly on behalf of the Crown.

What your Commission can do is take the time to:

  1. understand where, why, and how these things have been done in the wrong way in New Brunswick up until now;

  2. learn about how they can and must be done in a proper way; and,

  3. report back to GNB as soon as possible that it will be impossible for your Commission to report on that portion of your mandate, while taking care to include in this “report-back” what you have learned during your inquiries into points 1 and 2 immediately above.

In regards to the matter of consultation with Indigenous Peoples, this would be the only option for accountable, transparent, and responsible action on your part.

Your Support is Needed — Backgrounder

Ann Pohl (annpohl@xplornet.ca) and Brian Seaman (brianseaman@yahoo.com) ASK FOR YOUR SUPPORT…  

FOR:      Mi’kmaq & Wabanaki Environmental Protectors, Kent County Grassroots Communities, & the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

TO:        Develop a Legal Strategy to Make the Government of NB Send Home the Texas Frackers and PROTECT ATLANTIC REGION for future generations.

BACKGROUNDER 

“Catch and Release” is fishing terminology but also describes an RCMP tactic for intimidating anti-shale gas protesters and environmental protectors in New Brunswick. On November 29th, an older Acadian man standing alone with a placard was arrested and then released without charge. An independent journalist experienced this three separate times. In one memorable incident, a Mi’kmaq spiritual leader from the Elsipogtog First Nation peacefully protested dressed as Santa, and was arrested, detained, and then released without charge. These are not isolated examples of abuse of process as will become clear below.

Four years ago, the Government of New Brunswick (NB) granted licenses for the exploration and testing for shale gas deposits on 1.4 million hectares of Crown Land, as well as various privately owned lands. The largest lease-holder is SWN Resources Canada (SWN), a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas-based Southwestern Energy.

Throughout 2011 until now, New Brunswickers (NBers) from all walks of life have been urging the Government of New Brunswick to not allow unconventional hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), through petitions, lobbying, protests, public information sessions, etc. With the emergence of the Idle No More movement a year ago, the Mikmaq People – especially those from Elsipogtog First Nation — got on board with this anti-fracking opposition in a BIG way.

People, including NB’s own Chief Medical Officer of Health, are concerned about the links between fracking and pollution of water, land and air, and its potential impact on natural habitat and human health. The other huge issue is the lack of consent by NBers to proceed with extreme shale gas extraction, especially the Indigenous people of the province, who never ceded their original territory in the pre-Confederation Peace & Friendship Treaties. Regardless, the NB government’s enthusiasm for fracking has continued unabated.

Fast forward to early June 2013, when SWN began seismic testing for shale gas deposits in Kent County (c. 50 km north of Moncton). Ignored by their own provincial government, Acadian and English-speaking allies rallied behind the Mi’kmaq in a unique grassroots alliance to protect the Signigtog District of Mi’kmak’i. As SWN moved around Kent County, several “Unity Camps” were established on properties volunteered by area residents.

After facing stiff resistance, SWN temporarily ceased testing in late July with only about 40% of their planned work program complete.

When SWN returned in September, the “Rexton” or “Route 134” camp was set up. Demonstrations resumed, this time including a road blockade. For almost three weeks, the RCMP showed restraint, and the protest remained peaceful.

RCMP changed tactics at dawn on October 17th. Hundreds of heavily armed officers raided the camp, citing as pretext the need to enforce a civil injunction by the SWN corporation against several demonstrators plus unsubstantiated information that the protest had become dangerous. Native and non-Native area residents opposed to fracking rushed to the scene. In the ensuing melee, a phalanx of various police officers (perhaps from more than just the RCMP) deployed flash bombs, fired bean bag bullets and sprayed pepper spray directly into the faces of people, including elderly people and even children. The news reports you have all seen (the burning police cars) neglected to mention that the Mi’kmaq Warriors providing protest security were arrested several hours earlier. Questions remain about who started these fires, as well as police claims about weapons being used by the protestors.

Forty people, including Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock, were arrested. Most were “Catch and Release” (their charges were subsequently dropped). Some were charged with various offences, often public mischief. Several Mi’kmaq men and one teenage boy were detained without bail pending arraignments. One Warrior was sentenced on a plea bargain. Two are still in jail. None have had the benefit of Gladue or Aboriginal Court Services. (People are still being arrested, presumably based on extensive video taping by private security and public police forces, although to date none have been charged with starting the fires that consumed the police vehicles.)

Fifteen people (Native and non-Native) are being sued by SWN for economic loss in what is often colloquially called a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). In conjunction with their civil actions, SWN was also granted two injunctions, dated October 3 and November 22. Both injunctions also name “John Doe” and “Jane Doe.” The latter injunction restricted anyone in NB not employed by SWN (by virtue of “John and Jane Doe”) from being within 250 metres of company equipment and/or personnel.

SWN has finally left NB with perhaps 50% of their planned 2013 work programme complete. They say they will return and indeed are being welcomed back by NB Premier David Alward.

Virtually every lawyer in NB with civil litigation experience does business with Irving industries, who publicly partnered with SWN since 2011.  Modest legal assistance has been provided “off the record,” but there are no lawyers “of record” for: 

A number of relevant background documents and additional links can be viewed elsewhere on this blogspace.