By Cheryl Norrad
(Photo: Cheryl Norrad)
FREDERICTON - Twenty-eight members of citizen-based groups from all across New Brunswick came together for a press conference in Fredericton today, presenting a united front in it's opposition to the shale gas industry in the province. Calling itself A Network Against Shale Gas, the loosely-knit organization wants the government to ban shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.
Representing English, French, Maliseet and Mi'kmak people from all walks of life and vocations in the province, the network has no direct leadership, preferring to govern itself by consensus through representation from the smaller citizen groups.
Opening remarks at the press conference were made by Peter DeMarsh, a member of the Taymouth Community Association. DeMarsh defined the group's raison d'etre as a mechanism to educate and protect the population, while at the same time act as a voice for democracy in representing the wishes of the citizenry that have so far gone unheeded by the government.
"Sadly, on the issue of shale gas, good governance has been in short supply. And so we are left to our own devices to both educate ourselves and take what peaceful actions we can to protect our rights, lives and the province we love," he said.
Seven speakers from the network gave presentations at the press conference outlining the group's concerns, ranging from health and safety, pollution and infrastructure damage, to economics and sustainability. The First Nations perspective was also represented with emphasis on saving fresh water from contamination by industry.
Calling it a 'public engagement' campaign to furnish the facts to the public, the presentations used scientific evidence and first hand experiences to outline the group's concerns it says have gone unaddressed or ignored by government.
"The government and industry have called for open debate, but have yet to participate in one. We stand ready to do so," said DeMarsh.