Letters to the Editor

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Tired of going west, young men want to come home but not work for Irving

By Cheryl Norrad

Ryan Beek, above, worked for seven years in the fracking industry in Alberta. Now home working in NB, Beek welcomes shale gas in the province. (Photo: Cheryl Norrad)

FREDERICTON - A few weeks back at one of the anti-shale gas protests at the Centennial Building, twentysomething New Brunswicker Ryan Beek was across the street testing the gas lines under the new building going up across from the iconic government office on King Street. Beek was doing a bit of heckling at the anti-shale gas protesters so he was approached and asked why.

"There's nothing for the young generation here...people are starving because they've got no work...we've got to have something to put them to work," he said.

Beek spent seven years fracking wells for Nabors Production Services, a shale gas company in Alberta, without running into any drilling problems during that time.

"There was not one accident in seven years...there are strict rules to follow and there are lots of different styles of fracking with lots of different fracking materials not damaging to the environment," he said.

Beek said the shale gas industry in New Brunswick will bring people home from out west by providing work. He said people are tired of going elsewhere away from their families to find employment.

Comparing the shale gas industry being here to the Irving empire dominating the province, Beek said, "The shale gas companies are no worse than Irving. With it's mills and woodswork, Irving is destroying the rivers and wildlife...there is not enough monitoring of Irving," he said.

With the shale gas industry in the province, said Beek, young people can come home and work for a company that will pay better than Irving.

"The gas companies can compete on a wage level with Irving...people don't want to work for Irving because they don't pay enough, but they will work for gas companies because they pay a better wage," he said.

Beek added instead of one company controlling industry, Irving, other competitors should be brought in.

"Give the poor people a chance to work," he said.


  1. Nice post. Very 'objective' reporting there.

    Interesting that when people see government hiring they call it socialism and 'make work'. Yet SOME young people expect the same from industry.

    Young people do not need to be simply handed a job. They need to be trained to learn how to create their own jobs. It's not simply 'accidents' that are the issue, and saying "our industry is only as bad as other ones" is hardly a selling point.

    For young people, the world is leaning toward a knowledge economy and a global one. The days of blue collar expectations are over. You will have a job for ten years while the gas is extracted, THEN have to leave to find work elsewhere.

    It's true that people are often over inflating the dangers of hydrofracking (although in order to get lots of jobs, you have to have a LOT of fracking going on), but its a very good point. However, people need to also focus that energy on the educational system, which isn't training people for the new economy.

  2. Regrettably Mikel your allusions to "people need to" is based on illusion that fracking is safe I worked in Alberta with above interviewed Ryan Beek in fact I was fracking in Alberta 20 years before he arrived.

    Absolutely nothing has changed... I am ashamed of myself for whoring myself out the way I did... I actual understood that we were poisoning the water.

    No excuse for what I done, but all i could think off at that time was that I needed the money as I was raising a family with two growing children.

    My children were safe in New Brunswick as I poisoned water in Alberta.

    We actually had to replace our rubber boots each day because of the corrosive liquids we pumped into the ground would eat the rubber.

    Truth is, Ryan Beek like all of us Red Necks at his age, think we will never die, that we are invincible and cannot die.

    Ryan Beek is still a kid and honestly does not know what he is talking about and or does not have enough wisdom to comprehend the consequences of his actions.

    My health has been destroyed, from exposure to the chemicals we used, in fact some where radioactive... at least that was the symbols we noted on the tanks of liquid we pumped into the ground.

    I became a supervisor before retiring and can assure all readers the people behind this are best characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness.

    They are dangerous and proud of it.

    I am sure I made my point.

  3. What? He said what ?

    "Beek said the shale gas industry in New Brunswick will bring people home from out west by providing work. He said people are tired of going elsewhere away from their families to find employment."

    We do not want these dangerous people to come back to New Brunswick let Ryan Beek do his dirty business somewhere else, but not here in New Brunswick.

    Ideally no fracking anywhere. these people are mercenaries also for mentally ill people to compare Irving pollution of surface water to the same as below ground drinking water makes me so angry.

    also Mikel time to stop talking this way!

  4. Mikel.

    The problem with tapping into the new economy is that the job market there is very saturated. Also, alot of these blue collar workers are only in it to fund their way through University so they can trade their blue collars for white ones.

    -Agent Green

  5. Two commenters missed what I said. It's always ironic that I usually see nastier posts from people who are on the same 'side' as me than I do from those who disagree with me-that says a lot, mind you, its still an isolated incident.
    For the constructive comments above (and the other can take their own advice and stop posting here), the job market in the 'new economy' is hardly over saturated. It certainly is in New Brunswick, which is why there needs to be a focus on exports.
    However, knowledge industries are creative ones, which include all kinds of creativity. So for example look at the guy from Sudbury who went to animation school in Toronto, then created "Chilly Beach". He took that success and opened an animation facility in Sudbury.
    You can easily provide a living for yourself simply by developing iphone apps. How many people know how? How many young people who by the end of high school know everything about DOWNLOADING apps know the first thing about programming them, or marketing them?
    If you think that is too 'saturated', then develop apps for China, for Brazil, or for any number of new economies. A new sailing app has animations of how to tie various knots, for sale for a dollar, and if the creator sells a million worldwide (hardly a big number) then he's a millionaire.

    Back to natural gas, the Ryan Beeks should not be blamed for what is endemic to the NB educational system. Its not his fault he wasn't trained for anything but a blue collar existence. In the nineties it was well known that when rural kids were sent further away to school they did much worse-so what did McKenna do? Close most rural schools. Vermont did the opposite and saw its educational testing scores skyrocket-particularly in rural areas, which are the most problematic.

    At the height of the forestry collapse the Minister of Education was 'making it a priority' to 'get kids into forestry programs'. That's completely insane, particularly since the government routinely steers clear of the only forestry initiative that has created any jobs in this country-community foresting.

    I certainly didn't defend fracking, only said that in order for it to do real damage it has to be done on a large scale (which is obviously the intent). As for chemicals though, the exact same thing can be said of the chemicals used in pulp mills and metal fabrication plants-and I still don't see why people aren't lobbying to shut down pulp mills. I certainly never said public policy should be decided on the basis of what this kid says, but his opinion should not be discounted-particularly when his is such a common story.

    It's not like he is 'evil' because of what he does for a living. Virtually ALL of us tread on this planet in some way, and no doubt if he could make a living doing something that tread on it as little as possible he would. By that reasoning most of the workers in NB are evil in some way because they are harming the environment in SOME way. They aren't the villains in this story, and they should be partnered with to lobby for the types of creative jobs that ARE sustainable. And of course its ironic in that he HAS a job already, even without fracking.

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