Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Moving on up...

We are moving to a new personal residence and will be unavailable to cover events for the next few days. We regret the inconvenience to readers, but if anyone wants to submit their own piece on events during our absence, we would be happy to post. - ED. 

Policy denying disabled person stirs ire

Earlier today we posted video regarding a shale gas protester in a wheelchair denied entry to the Legislature yesterday for having anti-shale gas stickers on his seatback and carrier. According to building security, it's policy to disallow political slogan material into the House.

We received e-mail, and posts on our Facebook page, from readers registering outrage, ranging from free speech rights to comparing Alward to Hitler.

The individual in the wheelchair, Rick de Gruyl, e-mailed his MLA, Jake Stewart, with his frustration, saying the following:

"Sad state of affairs when Premier Alward does the "Hitler Thing" and puts himself above the taxpayers who voted for him. Yesterday at the Legislature I was refused entry as a disabled person in a scooter because of a bumper sticker. SHAME ON ALWARD!!!!!!! Watch the video at a/m link. I am disgraced and shamed publicly for being disabled. Disabled as a volunteer firefighter protecting the property and lives of New Brunswickers, now a slap in the face from Premier Alward.

Sincerely, Rick de Gruyl."

Stewart replied:

"Premier Alward would never do that. Premier Alward and our team have been making many improvements in the lives of people living with disabilities. We continue to work hard for all of NB.


One of our readers submitted a link to the Legislature website citing Gallery Rules. We found no mention of policy forbidding the public from sporting printed materials with a political opinion in the gallery. We did notice one of the rules for the public gallery is visitors must abstain from applauding, yet protesters clapped for MLA Kirk MacDonald yesterday when he submitted the anti-shale gas petition, with no repercussions from security in the gallery.

So what gives?

We wonder where such a security policy came from that an individual in a motorized wheelchair; someone who was disabled through an accident while working as a firefighter helping a community, is denied access to the people's house for something as simple as a bumper sticker.

Editorial: Denied entry - Part II

The Purple Violet Press recently applied to the provincial press gallery at the Legislature for media credential to better cover the shale gas issue, and branch the blog out to other areas of news. However, we received word today we were voted down by the gallery membership 12-0, with one abstention.

We understand the reasons for the decision of the gallery, which include, no provision in the gallery's constitution for new media, and a lack of existing citizen journalism oversight, to name a few.

We were pleased to be informed in the reply, however, that our application has spurred the gallery to act in the new year on updating its constitution where blogger media is concerned. This advances the state of citizen journalism in the province, moving it closer to becoming an accepted form of reporting the public can access for information. It is now not a matter of if bloggers will be part of the press gallery, but when.

To better help the cause of citizen journalism in New Brunswick, this publication calls on all bloggers in the province to help us form a Federation of Independent Journalists. We would also like your suggestions on reputable individuals who would be willing to give of their time to make up an oversight body for the Federation. Please contact us with your ideas and input to make blogging a respectable media reality in New Brunswick. - ED.

Denied entry - curious policy at Legislature

In an interesting aside to anti-shale gas protesters attending the Legislature yesterday to see MLA Kirk MacDonald present a petition to the House on the issue, a few of them had problems entering the building due to strict policy guidelines for security purposes. Judge the threat below for yourself.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Amazay - A film about water

Premier David Alward on Kirk MacDonald petition against shale gas

- video courtesy of Charles LeBlanc

Minister of Natural Resources Bruce Northrup on Kirk MacDonald and...

- video courtesy of Charles LeBlanc

Finance Minister Higgs on shale gas and corporate taxes to eliminate debt

CBC anchor Harry Forestell raises issue of shale gas costs

CBC fracking survey

CBC report: post-petition debate on shale gas between Conservatives and Liberals in House

Kirk MacDonald, MLA York North, on presenting today's anti-shale gas petition in Legislature

- video courtesy of Charles Leblanc

NB economist Dave Campbell does shale gas article for the Globe and Mail

Anti-shale gas protesters turn out at Legislature for petition presentation

Protesters gather near the Legislature to picket before entering this afternoon to see Conservative MLA Kirk MacDonald present an anti-shale gas petition to the House.

 By Cheryl Norrad

About 20 anti-shale gas protesters picketed the Legislature today for their cause before entering the House to observe Conservative MLA Kirk MacDonald present a petition to colleagues of 15,840 signatures against the industry in New Brunswick. The York North representative endorsed and signed the petition as well. 

Surprising the protesters, however, was the unexpected presentation of petitions by Opposition Liberals, containing thousands of signatures from across the province in their various ridings. Thinking the petition presentation complete after MacDonald submitted the documents to the House, protesters were exiting the public gallery when they heard Liberals on the other side of the floor standing one by one to present their petitions as well. Several paused and listened with a look of delighted surprise on their faces at the Liberal action.

"I had no idea, but was glad to see it," said Stephanie Merrill of the New Brunswick Conservation Council.

Environment Minister Blaney on air quality regs for NB shale gas industry

CBC shale gas series - day 2

Monday, 28 November 2011

Letter to the Editor - Fishing for shale gas red herring

The shale gas drilling media conversation has become a carefully managed theatrical event orchestrated by government and industry. Their message is controlled by filtering what issues will be discussed and what will be ignored. The mainstream media have been complicit in allowing industry to frame the conversation.

Industry wants to keep the conversation focused on water contamination because it's difficult to legally establish a link between shale gas drilling activity and water contamination. Water contamination is only the tip of the iceberg of the environmental and economic degradation that is threatened. Our province's recent guest Calvin Tillman from Dish, Texas pointed out that dangerous air pollution has been associated with the shale industry in communities where this industry has been in production, Canada included.

Another area where industry wants the conversation focused is that fracking takes place a mile in the ground. What concerns opponents about this industry is party what is going on a mile down, but the primary concerns are the environmental risks at the wellhead and the other above-ground activities.

Our mainstream media have paid much attention to our government's claim that we will have the strongest regulations on the continent. Their readers would be better served if inquiries were made about specific details about these regulations. As, for example, if air quality will be monitored and for what chemicals? Do we have an air quality standard and what levels of these chemicals will be allowed in our air? How many regulators will be hired at what cost? How will NB's regulatory regime be compared to other districts? Have other districts' efforts effectively  protected the environment?

In a true democracy the media acts as a check against government and industrial tyranny. It is time for our mainstream media to glance beyond where industry wants their attention and do some responsible journalism the serves the people of NB.

Paul Melanson
Rexton, NB

SWN's Alexander not concerned about environmental worries over shale gas

CBC starts week-long shale gas series


With the onset of winter and the slowing down of anti-shale gas protest events, The Purple Violet Press expects it will be scaling back coverage of the issue. We will continue to research the topic, do stories and welcome any information you would like to send to us. In the meantime, if an event does come about, please let us know, and we would be happy to cover it. - ED.

Protesters look on as Blaney listens to concerns in teepee

Protester questions Blaney on government inexperience with oil and gas industry

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Global Maritimes on yesterday's Legislature rally

First Nations to take NB gov't to court over shale gas development?

CBC six o'clock news on Legislature rally

1500 strong at Legislature rally yesterday

Premier Alward braves the wrath of Legislature protesters

Natural Resources Minister Northrup meets protesters and reporters at Legislature rally

Emotional plea from First Nation anti-shale gas protester to Environment Minister Blaney

Liberal leader Victor Boudreau and MLA's arrive for opening of the Legislature

Deputy Liberal leader Denis Landry on protest and upcoming legislative session

Liberal MLA Donald Arsenault on Legislature crowd

Liberal MLA Bill Fraser on upcoming Legislature session

Conservative MLA Kirk MacDonald plans to present anti-shale gas petition to House

Lt. Gov. Graydon Nicholas takes royal salute at opening of Legislature yesterday

Standing in solidarity at the Legislature rally

Former Premier Shawn Graham makes Legislature opening

Every New Brunswicker has a stake in it's government

Technical Difficulties

The Purple Violet Press is currently experiencing technical difficulties in uploading video coverage from yesterday's rally at the Legislature. We are working on the issue and expect to have video posted for readers later today. We apologize for any inconvenience. - ED.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Huge turn out for Legislature Rally

At the opening of the provincial Legislature yesterday, up to 1500 people braved the elements and turned out for a protest rally on the grounds of the historic seat of government in Fredericton. About 1000 members of CUPE representing various workers in the health and education industries demonstrated their dislike of the Alward government's cuts to their workplaces. Along with those workers, demonstrators in the anti-shale gas movement were out in numbers ranging from 400 to 500 over the period of the day. Some of the shale gas protesters had already been on the Legislature grounds for several days after erecting and occupying a teepee there in an anti-shale gas protest last Saturday in a run-up to yesterday's rally. The Native community put up the teepee to underscore the movement's desire to stop the shale gas industry in New Brunswick. The teepee came to be seen as a unifying symbol over the ensuing days, bringing people of all different backgrounds and cultures in New Brunswick together against what they see as the threat of the shale gas industry on the province's environment. Going up alongside the teepee yesterday was a gigantic oil derrick dotted with anti-shale gas signs. Organizers said the structure symbolized what the provincial landscape would look like with large numbers of unwanted oil and gas derricks on it's surface. 

Politicians of all stripes and parties came and went in and out of the Legislature building yesterday, on hand for the opening of the new session marked by the throne speech in the House read by Lt. Governor Graydon Nicholas. Many went into the crowd to listen to the concerns of the people, including Premier David Alward who was roundly booed, and it is reported, got a snowball thrown at him by an anonymous demonstrator in the crowd. Accompanying Alward was Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup, who took heat on the shale gas issue, from both demonstrators and the press. Environment Minister Margaret Ann Blaney spent time in the teepee, right up until the bells were ringing for the throne speech to start inside the Legislature, to listen to Native concerns about the effects of the shale gas industry on the province's water. 

Shortly after the speech from the throne was completed and the Lt. Governor was given the ceremonial sendoff by assembled trooops, the teepee was dismantled and protesters dispersed from the Legislature grounds to waiting buses sitting in the driving snow or to clean their vehicles off in preparation for the trecherous drive home.