Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

NDP leader candidate Thomas Mulcair lectured on fracking at UNB Tuesday

Offline rest of week - investigating story

I am currently working on an investigative piece that requires all my time and attention, therefore, I will not be posting any new written stories for the next few days. However, I plan to have a contribution by a friend tomorrow in my place that may turn into a regular column. I hope you will give him a read and send me your thoughts at thepurplevioletpress@gmail.com. Thank you in advance. - Cheryl Norrad, editor-in-chief, The Purple Violet Press.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Recently formed No Shale Gas NB group mounting legal injunction

By Cheryl Norrad

UPDATE: Comment from Chris Rendell, one of the founders of No Shale Gas Group NB, on why organization formed:  

"The injunction project was started because it became clear that the Alward government was not listening to the people of New Brunswick. The project began with a short discussion at the Christmas Craft Fair at Kredl's in Hampton at the end of November. After several meetings with our group, and with David Lutz, we developed a proposal which was then circulated amongst friends and other warriors in the fight against Shale Gas. The first donations arrived before the end of the year.

It took several more weeks of fine tuning and the work of a dedicated group of volunteers to arrive at the point where we were ready to publicize the first version of our website (on Thursday, January 26). The first online donations arrived within days.

There is much work to do to reach our goal, but we are confident that this goal will be reached. Anyone that is interested in helping with this project is asked to contact us at:
HamptonWaterFirst@gmail.com "

Chris Rendell

on behalf of Hampton Water First

FREDERICTON - A provincial lobby group has sprung up in the province recently with a plan to bring a legal injunction against the province to stop the shale gas industry in New Brunswick.

No Shale Gas NB has created a Facebook page and website to begin it's fight against the province to stop the shale gas industry in New Brunswick. It wants to raise $500,000 to bring in an an outside legal firm to mount its challenge, and pay for expert witnesses.

It is unclear who is responsible for the initiative, although Hampton Water First, an anti-shale gas organization in the Kennebecasis Valley, is the e-mail contact on the group's Facebook page, NoShaleGasNB.

Since no one The Purple Violet Press contacted at the page was heard from before publication, the following mission statement from the group's page is reprinted below:

NoShaleGasNB is a group raising funds to bring a legal action against the province, in order to put a stop to the ShaleGas industry in New Brunswick.

Since the government of New Brunswick has shown that they are not willing to consult the citizens of New Brunswick in a meaningful way, and that they are not willing to hold a commission of inquiry, we have no choice but to pursue this matter before the courts.

We propose the formation of a new initiative, with a board of representatives of existing ‘stop-shale-gas groups’, to raise the funds needed to bring an injunction against the Provincial government to prevent them from permitting any additional activity for Shale Gas development in the province.

In order to mount a serious and effective court challenge, we need to raise a ‘defense fund’ of $500,000 or more. This is the amount of money that is required to hire an effective (out-of-province) legal team, and to bring in expert witnesses for trial. Although daunting at first, this number is achievable if 5000 people donate $100 each. If we are not successful in raising the required amount, all funds will be returned less an administrative fee of $5.00 per refund cheque.

The goal of this action is to have a judicial review of the evidence, and ultimately, to find that the Shale Gas industry is detrimental to the environment, detrimental to the people of New Brunswick, and that it should not be allowed to proceed.

The group appears to have arisen in early January and so far has 95 members on its Facebook page, several of whom are part of the wider anti-shale gas lobby in the province.

A website is also part of this group's efforts where more information can be found by the public to learn about it's purpose at http://NoShaleGasNB.ca. Donations to the group's legal action fund can be made can be made at this site.

Friday, 27 January 2012

From Texas to Canada: Harper gov't also now calling environmental activists "radicals", "terrorists"

January almost over; no shale gas regs report or SWN investigation results

NDP's Cardy reacts to State of the Province address

Liberal Opposition leader Victor Boudreau comments on State of Province Address

“We were very disappointed at the lack of substance in the premier’s speech. We were expected some details on a plan to create jobs, because he’s been promising that now for 18 months. Unfortunately it was another missed opportunity for the premier. The speech was long on rhetoric and short on details and specifics. It’s also hard to listen to him say things like poverty reduction is a priority for him. His government has completely ignored the poverty reduction plan. They’ve turned their backs on New Brunswickers who need them the most, our seniors, our children, those living in poverty and those looking for a good job. Once again the premier had nothing to offer ordinary New Brunswickers.”

Alward delivers 2012 State of Province Address

By Cheryl Norrad

FREDERICTON - Premier David Alward delivered an optimistic, but tempered State of the Province address this evening at the Convention Center in Fredericton to a sold out crowd of 900 ticket holders. The event was sponsored by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce in concert with the Telegraph Journal and smaller businesses.

The crowd mingled to the tune of "Fix You" by Coldplay until the lights went down at 8:30 pm for opening remarks by Andrew Steeves, President of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and  Robert Warner, head of Brunswick News and the Telegraph Journal, who introduced the Premier to the stage.

Warner, new to New Brunswick and his post at Brunswick News, echoed much of what has already been discussed regarding the province's dire financial situation since Alward came to power.

"The Alward government has the reigns of power at a terribly difficult time in this province's history," he began, blurring the lines between media and politics by going on to parrot rhetoric heard on both sides,while trumpeting the Telegraph repositioning itself behind an online paywall as, "...the first step on the long road to tomorrow."

Alward's speech was as much a report card on the work of his administration for the past 16 months as it was cheerleading to buck up the populace for the hard economic road ahead. It focused on the necessity of innovative business vision, balanced with fiscal responsibility, to pull the province out of it's economic quagmire.

"We have a lot of work to do, we can get there together...the government will assist and help, but we are not job creation experts or a bank...we will foster an environment to succeed...but the rest of the time we will get out of the way," he said.

The presentation began by pointing out the triumphs of prominent home grown business visionaries, including Wallace McCain and Ian Fowler, as take charge New Brunswickers who embodied the achievements the province's citizens are capable of.

But that confident opening was offset by painful ways the administration will have to address a ballooning debt such as highway tolls and HST increases (through a referendum or election), pension plan adjustments, consolidating local governments, changes to the Official Languages Act and integrating government departments.

"Our economy is tied to the rest of the world...the U.S. economy is shaky and that affects us. 2011 was tough for the New Brunswick economy," said Alward.

The Premier outlined ways the government has already taken steps to provide a scaffold for some businesses in the province such as a fuel tax exemption for farmers and lower energy rates so money can go back into business operations elsewhere.

"...natural gas distribution rates were changed to fix a flawed system in New Brunswick [creating benefits] to pass on to New Brunswickers, to the economy, jobs, businesses and consumers," said Alward.

Innovation weaved it's way throughout much of the presentation, used as a by-word for dynamic business solutions to the province's economic woes, while at the same time meant as a prescriptive for doing more with less. 

"Innovation is the rocketfuel of our economy," he said, citing the information and communication sectors as areas the government wants to help foster growth.  

Although no concrete framework was announced, Alward outlined other areas the government will help to prosper including, aerospace, bio-sciences, industrial fabrication and value-added food. 

"We are investing 250 million over four years across the province," he said, while teasing the crowd with hints of a coming announcement by Invest NB on new jobs to the province through a pharmaceutical and medical supply company McKesson.

The Premier said the government will continue to provide services in core responsibilities such as health care by looking at best practices to prioritize where to put money. 

"Services and programs are being reviewed for appropriate affordability and sustaining services for New Brunswickers," he stated. 

Other plans were also mentioned for paring down the debt by decentralizing economic development to regions around the province, letting local communities decide how best to help local businesses.

"Aspects of change are coming to small communities...there will be negative results if we don't go forward," he said.

With shale gas exploration a major issue dominating the headlines in the past year, Alward addressed the province's natural resources, saying the potential for a shale gas industry in the province an economic driver behind the overall economy in the province to create jobs. However, he stressed, it will be regulated for safety.

"Responsible development of natural resources in New Brunswick will not sacrifice clean water, clean air or clean soil...[there are] strong regulations to protect the environment...a strong regulatory regime for oil and gas exploration. There will be no tradeoff in the protection and safety [of the environment] for economic gain." he said.

Alward went on to point out that in his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama stated the shale gas industry is a massive job creator for the country. 

After taking some scripted questions from a few business owners via video, Alward finished up his address saying the last major review of government services was done over 40 years ago and since the debt has grown to 9.4 billion, a strategy to do a new overhaul is required, for which a panel has been struck and will be announced next week.

The Premier left the stage to the dynamic sounds of "Clocks", another Coldplay tune, giving a hopeful impression of his administration's future management of New Brunswick. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Motor vehicle collision sends four people to hospital, Bathurst , N.B.

At approximately 2:00p.m., on January, 25, 2012, Bathurst RCMP responded to a collision on Route 11 at the Vanier Boulevard exit in Bathurst.  Four people were sent to hospital with non-life threatening injuries after two vehicles collided.  An RCMP collision re-constructionist was on scene.  The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

RCMP would like to remind motorists to slow down when emergency vehicles are on the side of the road and to follow traffic directions given by emergency personnel.

The plight of blogger Charles Leblanc goes Hollywood

Reason magazine has a blog entitled Reason - Hit and Run operated out of Hollywood, California that has done an online piece about Fredericton blogger Charles Leblanc, and his latest run-in with city police on charges of criminal libel.The piece can be found at this link: http://reason.com/blog/2012/01/26/police-charge-canadian-blogger-with-crim

Congratulations Charles, you've made it to Hollywood.

Occupy Fredericton Speaker Series

Occupy Fredericton has taken its message indoors and is holding a bi-weekly speaker series around the city. See below for the schedule and locations if you would like to attend:

Occupy Speakers’ Series Schedule

Tuesdays, 4 PM, Sir James Dunn Hall, Room 108, St. Thomas University
Saturdays, 11 AM, Conserver House, 180 St. John Street
  • Tuesday, January 17: Matthew Hayes, STU Sociology (Occupy Tuition: What Students Can Learn From the Occupy Movement)
  • Saturday, January 21: Susan Machum, STU Sociology (The Politics of Food Production)
  • Tuesday, January 24: Jim Gilbert-Walsh, STU Philosophy (The Attack of the Trolls: Occupy, Ideology and Social Media)
  • Saturday, January 28: Julian Walker, STU Journalism (The Once and Future New Brunswick Free Press)
  • Tuesday, January 31: Brad Cross, STU History (How the City Shapes Your Life [And How You Can Shape the City])
  • Saturday, February 4: Karen Robert, STU History (Social Movements: Lessons from Latin America)
  • Tuesday, February 7: Tom Beckley, UNB Forestry (Current Directions in New Brunswick Forest Policy)
  • Saturday, February 11: Jean Sauvageau, STU Criminology (The Harper Government and the Criminal Law Agenda)
  • Tuesday, February 14: Tony Myatt, UNB Economics (The Provincial Budget)
  • Saturday, February 18th: Bill Parenteau/Stephanie Merrill, UNB History/CCNB Action (Budworms, Hydroelecticity and Hydrofracking: Public Engagement and Natural Resource Management in New Brunswick)
  • Tuesday, February, 21st: Shaun Narine, STU Political Science (Inequality, Globalization and Canada)
  • Saturday, February 25th: Michael Boudreau, STU Criminology (The Person of the Century: The Protestor in Canada)
  • Tuesday, February 28th: Tracy Glynn, STU Environment and Society (It's Bigger than Bling-Bling and the Banks: Women's Stories of the Origins of Our Stuff and the Messages of Occupy)

Occupy Fredericton - passion still there; plans for spring

More from pre-budget meeting: Cardy doesn't want budget balanced on backs of poor

More from pre-budget meeting: Eloquent plea by student for funding; wants to stay in NB & make difference

Leonard responds to economist slagging at pre-budget meeting Tuesday night

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

VOX POPS - Do you know who Brian Gallant is?

Provincial Liberal party leadership hopeful Gallant in Fredericton today

                                                    (photo credit: Charles Leblanc)

By Cheryl Norrad

FREDERICTON - Provincial Liberal leadership candidate Brian Gallant made an appearance in Fredericton today, part of province-wide barnstorming to launch his bid for party leader and future Premier. 

Introduced by Miramichi-Baie du Vin Liberal MLA Bill Fraser, campaign co-chairs Mary Schreyer, a former cabinet member in the Graham government, and federal Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc, lauded Gallant's potential to be the great white hope for the rejuvenation of New Brunswick's ailing Liberal party.

Praising Gallant's fresh approach to politics Schreyer said, "Brian is taking the conversation out on the road to ask people what they think went wrong with the Liberal party...to find out how they think the province can move ahead and manage issues in the province differently."

During his remarks, LeBlanc said Gallant has the qualities of a strong leader by being hardworking, with an ability to relate to the small business person and having compassion for people struggling. He added, "It's a good day for the renewal of the Liberal party of New Brunswick, and a very, very bad day for the do-nothing government of David Alward!"

Striding into the room to the tune of "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane, Gallant shook the hands of party faithful lining his way to the podium, stopping to embrace Schreyer and LeBlanc in front of a crowd of close to one hundred supporters, who cheered as he stood at the mic.

"I'm extremely excited to embark on this adventure," said Gallant after thanking his co-chairs, then launched into his plan for the party in the coming years.

Gallant cited buzzwords like restructuring and renewal, saying the Liberal party is learning from it's mistakes.

"The Liberal party has been through tough times before and the party will be stronger than ever after the renewal process," he said.

Gallant also outlined the path of the change the Liberal party is on, pointing out 2011 was a time to fix the structures and problems of the party, while 2012 will bring re-invigoration of the party with a leadership race, and 2013 will be a time to engage New Brunswickers with productive ideas to ensure the election in 2014 fields good local candidates to represent the populace.

Focused on engaging the youth of the province, the charismatic twenty-nine-year-old Gallant said education has to be a priority to retain young people and build the economy for tomorrow that will be transparent, inclusive and accountable in a Liberal administration.

"We will keep our promises by making promises we can keep," he said, the crowd reacting with roars and a standing ovation as Gallant walked into their arms, and into his future.

Gallant speaks to media after candidacy speech

Brian Gallant throws hat in ring for Liberal leadership

MONCTON - Moncton lawyer Brian Gallant today declared he is seeking the Leadership of the New Brunswick Liberal Party. Gallant made the announcement to a large gathering of enthusiastic Liberal supporters at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton following earlier stops in Caraquet and the Miramichi.

“It’s time for a new approach to politics in New Brunswick,” said Gallant. “We can make this province a more prosperous and progressive place. We can grow our economy and protect our social programs. And we can put our financial house in order,” said Gallant. “But we can’t keep using the same methods that have failed in the past and are failing New Brunswickers today.”

“The first step is the renewal of the Liberal Party,” noted Gallant. “We need to rebuild the party from the grassroots up and ensure every Liberal has a voice in party policies. We need the party to be transparent and inclusive.”

Brian Gallant first came to political prominence in 2006, when he very nearly defeated incumbent Premier Bernard Lord in the riding of Moncton-East, earning 41 per cent of the vote.

Brian Gallant grew up in Shediac Bridge. While still a student, he started small businesses to pay his way through university, going on to earn business and law degrees from the Université de Moncton. After being called to the New Brunswick bar, he worked at a major law firm in Moncton for over 3 years. He recently earned his Masters in Law from McGill University in Montreal. He currently practices corporate and commercial law in the Moncton area.

Brian Gallant’s campaign is co-chaired by Dominic Leblanc, MP for Beaus√©jour, and Mary Schryer, former MLA for Quispamsis.

Following his campaign launch in Moncton, Gallant will make further campaign stops on Wednesday in Fredericton at 3 pm in the St. John Room, Crowne Plaza hotel, Saint John at 5:15 pm at the Delta hotel and Woodstock. For the remainder of the week, he will make several campaign stops in northern New Brunswick and in the furthermost regions of the province.

Liberal leadership candidate Gallant behind fresh idea for vote campaign in 2010 provincial election

Pre-budget consultation meeting coverage

By Cheryl Norrad

FREDERICTON - Finance Minister Blaine Higgs held a pre-budget consultation meeting in Fredericton last night at the Forestry Complex to a standing-room-only crowd who presented their concerns, ranging from double tenant tax to small gas station owners being gouged by giant Costco and tuition costs for university students.

Higgs began proceedings shortly before 6:30 pm with a Powerpoint presentation, giving an overview of the province's financial situation, and how the plan will tighten things up. He stressed during his speech everyone will have to do their part in taking responsibility for pulling the province out of debt, and people will have to do more with less. After the 30 minute presentation, Higgs sat down and the floor was opened to the public.

Presenter Sherry Wilkins of District 18 addressed her concerns regarding school library funding, reduction of school districts and the job losses with it. However her biggest concern was the potential loss of retirement allowances for civil servants. In response, Higgs asked if there were any suggestions for saving money. Wilkins cheekily replied, "Not with the salary I'm making," to the laughter of the crowd.

Another presenter, Karen Ross of Kidney Cancer Canada, requested Higgs' department fund catastrophic drug costs, since New Brunswick and PEI are the only provinces in Canada without it. Higgs responded by saying, "We are committed to making that area a priority."

Speaker Andy Hardy raised the pulses of the crowd when he suggested at the mic that bonuses across the board received by some in the senior civil service and crown corporations be done away with completely. Hardy, a department of transportation employee, also said the government was overbuilding highways in the province with some projects unnecessary. "Someone in government has to have the guts to go into the highway contracts and cancel them because it's costing too much money," he said. He added, "The Lord government got us out of the highway tolls, there should be away out of some of these contracts."

New Brunswick NDP leader Dominic Cardy was also in attendance and worked his way through the line-up to the mic, saying he questioned the transparency of the process, adding focusing on the needs and wants of the province misguided; that a vision for the future of the province is needed. Cardy drew the biggest response from the crowd when he brought up government's addiction to corporate welfare, funding business to stay in the province over and over when it was something that doesn't work. Higgs prefaced his response to Cardy with a sly grin and said, "That was a great stump speech opportunity," before going on to answer the NDP leader. Higgs said the government is focused on creating accountability, and an open, transparent process by looking at all sectors. He added companies and banks are being asked to do their part.

A common refrain by Higgs after each member of the public spoke at the mic was, "...we have to balance our priorities and see what our needs are." No concrete promises were made, but Higgs took copious notes when members of the public spoke, taking down their suggestions and concerns. The meeting ran over it's scheduled adjournment at 9 pm, going until 10:30 pm which allowed everyone lined up at the mic to have their chance to speak.

At the end of the meeting, Higgs spoke with reporters. This publication posted video below of Higgs answering some of their questions.

Along with Alward, Higgs kept awake about issues too

Business plan concept coming for government departments

Quality services but not everywhere in NB - Higgs

"Nursing homes have to do their part," - Higgs

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Frack Off - The Concert

The heady days of Occupy Fredericton; is the passion still there?

Councillor Marilyn Kerton doesn't support legislated bilingual policy for the City of Fredericton

An afternoon with Michel DesNeiges, Legal Counsel, NB Environmental Law Society

(photo credit: elements.nb.ca website)
Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 2 pm
Bass River Hall, 20 Fearon Cross Road, Bass River NB
Free Admission. Everyone Welcome!
Stormdate: Saturday, February 04, 2012 at 2 pm.
Freewill donation will be requested to cover the costs of sponsoring this presentation.
Protecting Ourselves from the Deep Shale Gas Mining Industry
Residents of Kent County are very concerned about what shale gas exploration and mining will do to our fresh water wells and aquifers as well as human health, health of livestock and wildlife, and local land and air quality.  Upriver Environment Watch! has recently formed, to inform ourselves and our neighbours about this issue. We are working together with Kent County's Our Environment/Our Choice to sponsor this public information event.
The Alward government is vigourously promoting the economic development of our provincial deep shale gas resources. To set our minds at rest, our trustees in Fredericton are promising they will soon produce a “world-class” set of standards, so that these industries understand they must not pollute our families, homes and rivers in the beautiful Kent County region.
The creation and enforcement of even the strongest regulations by the Government of New Brunswick will not guarantee that we are protected from the health and environmental hazards associated with this industry. Leaving aside the larger and major environmental concerns, this deep drilling and refracturing technology is scientifically exceptionally unpredictable. It is too new, too unknown, and very unsafe. Further, how does the Alward government propose to fund a top-notch regulatory and enforcement system that opens in high gear, and can operate 24/7/365 as needed? That is an expensive proposition.
In October 2011, Minister Northrup said that natural gas companies have been “made well aware that they may not explore where they are not welcome.” WE DO NOT WELCOME shale gas exploration in our Kent County communities, but we expect to see their equipment back here by Spring. How do we protect our properties, families, farms, drinking water, watersheds, wildlife, and livestock from this environmental threat?
Mr. DesNeiges will cover these and more topics in his talk. He will also answer questions from the audience. His presentation will be in English but he will take questions in French or English.

Councillor Jordan Graham on speaking truth to power

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fredericton Police Chief MacKnight on criminal libel investigations; takes questions from blogger Leblanc

After a Council-in-Committee meeting this evening, Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight, above, answered questions pertaining to criminal libel investigations without going into specifics about the Leblanc libel case since it's an ongoing matter. This publication spoke to him before the above scrum, but MacKnight had no comment. He was more forthcoming as reporters gathered around him before he headed into the regular Monday night council meeting. Interestingly, blogger Charles LeBlanc was one of those reporters and he asked questions of his own to MacKnight captured in the video.

The People's Alliance Party makes suggestions to Higgs for paring down budget

Minister Higgs,

Thanks for the opportunity to meet with you today. Although I do hope we will see a return to a public meeting forum in Miramichi next year. A stakeholders meeting is fine, but as a party, the People’s Alliance does question why your government doesn’t consider all taxpayers stakeholders in the budget process.

During your presentation you make mention of the need for political parties to avoid making campaign promises they cannot fulfill. Given the number of times your government has backed off, tweaked, reversed or totally neglected many of its promises I wish you the best of luck in this endeavour as you explain this to your colleagues at the legislature.

Our party has listened to many initiatives you’ve brought forth as finance minister to bring in new revenue and decrease spending. Some we agree with and some we don’t. But at the end of the day, all we can hope for is that your government has the political will to do the right thing and bring us back to balanced books in order to start paying down the debt.

One thing you’ve said in the past is your government can leave no stone unturned in the efforts to find decreases in spending. If that is truly your intention then I would please ask you to consider the following ideas from the People’s Alliance:

1)      Roll back MLA salaries to 2008 levels and establish annual salary increases more similar to that of the average New Brunswicker. We also don’t believe that the argument is legitimate to say New Brunswickers need quality individuals to run for office and they need to be paid accordingly. By that logic I would find it hard to believe that more than half of the current government cabinet, who ran for office prior to the 2008 increases would have considered themselves poor quality. The only other point I’ll make on this issue is to ask how your former employers at Irving Oil would have dealt with you and your former colleagues giving themselves raises without the boss’s knowledge and consent.

2)      Sell the government plane. You speak of wants and needs quite often. From the amount of excessive use by a handful of your colleagues, I would say this government resource falls under the want category, when commercial airlines can provide much cheaper travel fare. All it would take to achieve a balance between work in Fredericton and people’s home ridings is more responsible scheduling of time commitments by your cabinet colleagues.

3)      Reduce the amount of travel expenses that MLA’s and cabinet minister’s claim. Regardless of how much travel is required, when you have MLA’s spending well over $30,000 a year and sometimes hitting $40,000 a year and they aren’t even part of cabinet, I question whether our tax dollars are being put to the best use when MLA’s are spending more than an average New Brunswickers annual salary on food, gas and hotel bills.

4)      One can understand if a premier wants to have a couple trusted advisors at their side in order to work steadily and freely. But when governments begin handing out jobs to political friends and campaign workers as a reward for their support regardless of their qualifications at the alarming rate which continues to grow with each successive PC and Liberal government, then I would suggest the governing party kick in some funds from their own bank account to pay for these salaries. Although you weren’t a part of the last Progressive Conservative opposition who lambasted the former Liberal government for appointing their friends to various positions, your government has been no slouch itself. The best result New Brunswickers could hope for is to end the patronage machine once and for all. Make a select few of these positions by contract only and don't hand away anymore secret pensions cloaked in cabinet confidentiality.

5)      If you do want a suggestion of where to invest some money, give the auditor general's office the resources and staff to fully investigate government spending through a full audit of the books. It would also be nice to see the person holding that position to hold more clout when highlighting when governments, department officials and individual elected members begin to abuse taxpayers money. 

These are just a few ideas our party has Mr. Minister, not to mention ones that could be done very easily if the political will is there. If you should choose to discuss these ideas or any others  further, the People’s Alliance is always willing to work with other parties to achieve the best results for the people of this province and would be willing to sit down with you.

Kris Austin,  Leader
Jason Inness, President
Carl Bainbridge, Vice President
Rhonda Smith, Treasurer
Michael Marsh, Secretary

Blogger Charles LeBlanc back in business

Blogger Charles LeBlanc is officially back in business with computer equipment donated by supporters that was set up this afternoon by an IT professional sympathetic to his plight. Leblanc's equipment was removed by police during the execution of a search warrant last Friday after a lengthy investigation into whether one of their own, Cpl. Fred L'Oiseau, was libeled in a post by LeBlanc on his blog.

A steady stream of well wishers has been visiting LeBlanc's home since Friday, giving him cash and cheques to help him with legal fees in his fight against criminal libel charges if the Crown chooses to move forward on the file. 

An exhausted LeBlanc was grateful for the outpouring of public support and vows to continue doing his work in highlighting issues affecting the less fortunate. 

Reminder - Fredericton City Council Meeting, Provincial Pre-Budget Consultations

From 5 pm to 9 pm, the regular Monday evening city council meeting in Fredericton convenes. 

Tomorrow evening, from 6:30 pm to 9 pm, Finance Minister Blaine Higgs will be holding a pre-budget consultation meeting with the public in the theatre at the Forestry Complex on Regent Street.


Last week it was posted to this blog that CBC provincial affairs reporter Jacques Poitras was reporting rumblings of a cabinet shuffle on his Twitter feed. However, in an e-mail to this publication, Poitras pointed out this wasn't the case:

"I did not, and do not, report on rumours. I was responding to others who were speculating about a shuffle, by providing my thoughts on whether it would or would not be too early for such a move.

The way you've phrased it suggests I was the first to broach the subject, and that I was doing so based on rumour. Neither is the case."

This publication regrets the error. - ED.

Editorial: Criminel libel, mental illness and police overreaction

Taxpayers should hope the Leblanc libel case gets thrown out

According to the Criminal Code of Canada, under section 298 (1), defamatory libel is defined as, “…matter published, without lawful justification or excuse, that is likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or that is designed to insult the person of or concerning whom it is published. “

In section 298 (2), the mode of expression of the defamation is defined as, “being expressed directly or indirectly by insinuation or irony, (a) in words legibly marked on any substance ; or (b) by any object signifying a defamatory libel otherwise than by words.”

When an alleged defamatory libel is published, as per section 299 of the Criminal Code, a person becomes libel, "(a) when he exhibits it in public, (b) causes it to be read or seen; or (c) shows or delivers it, or causes it to be shown or delivered, with intent that it should be read or seen by the person whom it defames or by any other person.”

Punishment for defamatory libel ranges from two to five years in jail. If, in section 300 of the Code, if a person is aware the information published is libel, he can receive a term not exceeding five years. If he doesn’t know it’s libel, as stated in section 301, then the term is not to exceed two years.

Nowhere in this section of the Criminal Code of Canada, pertaining to defamatory libel, is new social media such as blogging addressed within the context of these definitions. It only mentions newspapers as related to publication. There is no specific legislation dealing with unconventional reporting online such as blogging. 

Libel, or defamation, can be dealt with in a criminal or civil action in Canada. A civil action is filed through a lawsuit and settled with monetary damages. Criminal action can result in a jail term, hence the punishment portion of section 300 and 301 in the Code. But criminal defamation is rarely enforced in Canada and has been ruled unconstitutional in three provinces. When it has been trotted out for use in the past, it was mostly by authority figures seeking redress for damage to their reputation.

The most commonly known libel case in New Brunswick is that of Beutel  v. Ross. Editorial page cartoonist Josh Beutel was sued for defamation by teacher Malcolm Ross in 1993 after depicting Ross in a cartoon comparing him to a Nazi. Ross was known for his anti-semetic views, and had gotten press for expressing them inappropriately in a classroom. Beutel was found libel in the case in 1998 and ordered to pay damages to Ross of $7500. However, Beutel appealed the decision and it was set aside in 2001, with Ross ordered to pay Beutel $5000.

The Beutel v. Ross case was a civil action. There is no known case of criminal libel being brought forth in New Brunswick that this publication could find in it’s research on the issue. Until last Friday.

On that day, Fredericton City Police executed a warrant to search and seize computer equipment from local blogger Charles Leblanc on charges of criminal defamation against one of its own, Cpl. Fred L’Oiseau.  

For some time it has been known there is no love lost between Leblanc and L’Oiseau, the two having crossed paths in the past and taken a dislike to one another. Some call it the local version of the wider family squabble under the francophone roof of Acadian vs. Quebecois, the two having feuded for centuries after landing on North American soil, with the Acadians calling the Quebecois arrogant, while the Quebecois treat their New Brunswick brethren as something akin to country hicks. The situation between Leblanc and L’Oiseau was compounded in June of last year when L’Oiseau singled out LeBlanc on the street and ticketed him for not wearing a helmet while on his bicycle, a minor by-law infraction that is often broken by the general public in the city’s downtown under the noses of police.

LeBlanc went home and wrote on his blog about what he felt as being unfairly ticketed for something that is a common occurrence, noting also that police are aware he is on social assistance and couldn’t afford to pay the fine. Leblanc began lampooning L’Oiseau regularly on his blog. In a July post, he inferred that during their exchange, L’Oiseau allegedly touched him inappropriately, referring to L’Oiseau as a “pervert”.  Speculation suggests this is where the police began their investigation that culminated in the raid on LeBlanc’s premises last Friday.

It is clear, given the definition of defamation in the Criminal Code of Canada as outlined above, that Leblanc has some explaining to do. Often he cities his ADHD mental illness as the reason for much of his impulsive behaviour, and while it is indeed likely the strongest explanation for LeBlanc thoughtlessly skewering some public figures on his blog, his refusal to take medication for the illness puts part of the blame on him for his current woes. LeBlanc has been heard to question why he should take a medication that makes it easier for society to deal with him when it is society that needs to learn how to deal with people who have mental illness. And while he has a point, it does nothing for his immediate situation. The longer LeBlanc goes without medication to regulate his illness, the more he will deteriorate as he ages which could lead to further problems with authority figures. Nobody wants to see that happen.

L’Oiseau, for his part, is also to blame for his predicament of being the object of ridicule on LeBlanc’s blog. He tweaked the nose of the lion by doing something as petty as issuing a by-law ticket on a minor infraction when it was common knowledge Leblanc didn’t have the means to pay for it. Such action gives credence to LeBlanc’s claims against L’Oiseau, and the Fredericton City Police at large, as being a corrupt organization with little respect or compassion for the less fortunate. How, one wonders, does it help the situation when police torment a mentally ill man that lives in poverty by issuing him tickets for minor offences he can’t pay for, and then storm into his home to silence him because they don’t like him complaining about it in a public forum? The resources of an entire department are being used to bully one man who is often dismissed as crazy. Simply because he’s considered crazy doesn’t give officials the right to trample Leblanc’s civil rights. The mentally ill are entitled to their rights as much as the next person, and the police need to be properly trained to understand how to deal with them. It doesn’t appear the Fredericton City Police currently have the skills to do so. Perhaps Chief MacKnight could consider sending his personnel on a few courses to learn how, starting with Cpl. L’Oiseau.

The entire exercise on Friday smacks of what is known as “libel chill”, a term that describes how in using such heavy-handed tactics in the name of criminal libel, the state sends a message to society that this is what will happen to those who loudly protest its actions. It is a way to quiet dissent. Regardless of what city-dwellers think of LeBlanc, it should make them nervous their police force is acting in this manner. It is a slippery slope that can lead to the erosion of respect for other rights that could impact their own quality of life.

In the meantime, both sides in this situation need to pull back and look at the bigger picture because it will be the taxpayer left holding the bag for court costs in what is looking more and more like than an ego-filled pissing contest. LeBlanc needs to find more suitable ways of discussing his displeasure with the Fredericton City Police or his blog will soon have no readers because many taxpayers are his readers, and they will be fed up. The police need to look at the optics of this thing, i.e. city taxpayers already had to pay $200,000 for the Const. Stafford debacle and now it looks as though they may be on the hook for costs because a police officer has nothing better to do than worry about the blathering of a small-time blogger.

Things are out of hand.

With the Crown yet to decide on whether it will move forward on the charges against Leblanc, there is a window of opportunity for some sanity to prevail. It can decide not to pursue the criminal route and send the file back. Barring that, it is hoped if proceedings move forward, a judge will throw it out for being the ridiculous dispute that it is, forcing cooler heads before a man is sent to jail, and a fine police force is permanently damaged in the eyes of those it serves.

Conservation Council reaction to Leonard move to CAPP

Friday, 20 January 2012

Blogger's frame of mind after arrest and raid at his home yesterday morning by Fredericton police

Blogger Charles LeBlanc chronicles events of arrest and raid at his home yesterday morning by Fredericton police

Blogger Charles LeBlanc negotiates with Cpl. Bobbi Simmons - officer who arrested him - for modem back

LeBlanc's request for modem back denied I

LeBlanc's request for modem back denied II

Stay Tuned

Blogger pleads for help to replace some seized equipment taken in raid yesterday morning by Fredericton police

Rumblings of coming provincial cabinet shuffle...

The CBC's Jacques Poitras is reporting on Twitter there are rumblings of a cabinet shuffle circulating in political circles surrounding the provincial government. What this means for high profile departments such as Natural Resources and Environment on the hot seat in the past year related to shale gas and water issues remains to be seen. This publication will continue to follow events on this story as they unfold.

Fredericton City Police arrest and search home of Blogger Charles LeBlanc

RCMP release sketches of suspects from armed robberies, Zealand and Millville, N.B.

The RCMP have released sketches of two suspects in a pair of armed robberies on Wednesday night at convenience stores in Millville and Zealand.

The sketches were compiled by the RCMP's Forensic Artist based on surveillance video and witnesses.

District 2 (Oromocto) and District 7 (Carleton-York) are investigating the robberies with assistance from the Fredericton Police Force.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police or N.B. Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Thursday, 19 January 2012

BREAKING...Blogger Charles LeBlanc arrested on defamation charges; blog shut down

By Cheryl Norrad

FREDERICTON - Local Fredericton blogger Charles LeBlanc was arrested by Fredericton Police earlier today on charges of criminal defamation. Police raided LeBlanc's home this morning, taking his computer equipment and means of producing his blog. After being processed, LeBlanc was released from police custody and will appear in court on the matter April 20.

 Above, LeBlanc's desk minus computer equipment after police raided his home and seized his computer today

On Monday, LeBlanc pleaded guilty in court to violating a city noise by-law. The case stemmed from LeBlanc protesting in front of the city police station last summer using a bullhorn which authorities claimed gave disturbed locals cause to complain. LeBlanc was trying to draw attention to the fact he was ticketed for not wearing a helmet while riding his bicycle based on a third-party complaint without police witnessing the violation.

The Purple Violet Press is continuing to follow this story and will update it as details emerge. In the meantime, this publication has learned friends will be donating computer equipment to LeBlanc and he will be back online with his blog tomorrow morning. Police remain tight-lipped on the matter, providing no comment to media.

Below is a link to LeBlanc's blog detailing events of today.

Blogger Charles LeBlanc makes video statement after arrest by Fredericton city police

More photos of armed robbery suspects in Zealand and Millville

The RCMP in New Brunswick has released photos of two suspects in connection with an armed robbery at a convenience store in Zealand, N.B., on the evening of January 18, 2012.

One of the men is described as being approximately 5'5' tall and weighing about 140 lbs. The second man is about 6' tall and weighs approximately 250 lbs. Both were wearing snowmobile suits.

Anyone with information about this armed robbery, or the one that occurred 90 minutes earlier in Millville, is asked to contact police or N.B. Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).

Conservation Council of NB Reacts to Leonard defection to CAPP

By Cheryl Norrad

FREDERICTON - A high profile New Brunswick environmental group is concerned a recent defection by a provincially employed bureaucrat to a national oil and gas lobby will influence the government further with shale gas exploration in the province, against the wishes of many in the population.

 Stephanie Merrill, above, of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

Stephanie Merrill of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said Angie Leonard's move from the province's natural gas steering group to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), may give the powerful lobby group access to inside information on shale gas development in New Brunswick.

"Her taking with her to industry, to the biggest [oil and gas] lobby group in Canada, information that she's gained through working with the Natural Gas Steering Group...information that is sensitive and potentially confidential...the biggest concern for us is industry exploiting that information..." said Merrill.

 Angie Leonard, above, in an image from her Twitter account

Leonard, sister of Energy Minister Craig Leonard, was employed by the province as an executive with the natural gas steering group, a committee struck in April 2011 by Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup to regulate and oversee the evolution of the burgeoning shale gas industry in New Brunswick. She was also present on several panels speaking to the public at community meetings held by the province on the contentious issue of shale gas, attempting to ally fears of potential environmental damage felt by the populace.

 Leonard, third from left, is seen on a natural gas group panel consulting with the public in the community of Taymouth during the summer of 2011

Although shale gas is a high-profile issue in the province, no announcement was made by government about Leonard's move to a player with a strong interest in seeing the industry take off here. The CBC's Jacques Poitras broke the story and Natural Resources spokesman Steven Benteau responded saying Leonard would be given no access to senior officials on the shale gas file.

"They have decided that they will not be meeting with this individual on the natural gas file, and this would be do to the perceived appearance of a conflict...especially in that she is also a relative of a cabinet minister, who is a member of the natural gas steering committee," said Benteau. 

But for Merrill, the government saying Leonard will have no access to senior government officials on the file is irrelevant.

"She still has access to communities...other governments like municipal councils and business groups...in a communications capacity and that will be big asset," said Merrill.

Leonard has declined to comment on the controversy surrounding her new position with CAPP. Her Twitter feeds have also been quiet.

- with files from CBC.ca/nb

RCMP investigating two armed robberies, Millville and Zealand, NB

 An image of one of the suspects has been released, above, from a security camera during last night's robberies.

On January 18, 2012, at approximately 8:00 p.m., the District 7 RCMP responded to an armed robbery at Estey’s General Store, on Route 104 in Millville, N.B. A masked man, carrying a firearm, entered the store. A shot was fired, but no one was injured. The store clerk and a few patrons were in the store at the time. The suspect left with an undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes. He ran from the store and left the scene on a snowmobile.
About 90 minutes later, the District 2 RCMP received a report of an armed robbery at Zealand Convenience, on Route 104 in Zealand, N.B. In this case, two masked men entered the store. One had a firearm, and a shot was fired, but no one was hit. The store owner was assaulted and taken to hospital, where he was treated and later released. An undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes was stolen. The suspects fled to a nearby trail.

The suspects in both robberies were wearing snowmobile suits. One man is approximately 5’5” tall and weighs about 140 lbs. The second man is about 6' tall and weighs approximately 250 lbs.

Due to the similarities in the two incidents, police believe the robberies may be linked. The RCMP Police Dog Service and Forensic Identification Service assisted at both scenes.

Anyone with information about these two crimes is asked to contact RCMP at 1-888-506-RCMP (7267). Information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or www.crimenb.ca. Information leading to an arrest could qualify you for a cash award of up to $2,000.

RCMP statement on armed robberies in Millville and Zealand

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

2012-2013 Pre-Budget Consultation Meetings

New Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs is holding pre-budget meetings around the province to consult NBers for their input on the province's finances. If you want to have your say, click on the link below to find the  government website giving a list of times and locations of the meetings:

Something New

There have been some changes here at The Purple Violet Press, and since it is a new year, it was decided a new look was needed to herald those changes.

Although a founder and contributor to this publication, I am now the sole proprietor and in charge of publishing and editing, along with reporting duties. However, due to time and financial constraints, it will be on a part-time basis only. 

With that, the publication will be taking a new direction through less daily reporting, but will continue with on-camera interviews and examining issues in written pieces. Other subjects beyond shale gas will also be covered that is hoped will be of interest to readers. Contributions from the public are also welcome. Please see the submission guidelines above in the Policy section.

I hope you will send me your feedback on the new changes to this publication through the various avenues of Contacts found in the section above. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your interest and continued support. I appreciate each and every one of you.

- Cheryl Norrad

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Sick Leave

We regret to inform you a personal health issue we have been struggling with recently has become more severe and an indefinite leave of absence is required for treatment. We are greatly disappointed to have to put the publication on hold for the time being since we just returned from holiday. However, it is circumstances beyond our control. This publication apologizes to readers for an inconvenience and hopes for understanding. It is our wish to be back online when our health is better. Thank you. - ED.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Injured Occupier hit with wooden beam as structure torn down

A Closer Look - Occupy structure torn down with protesters still in it, one injured

Editorial: This is what a dictatorship looks like

Early this morning around 5 a.m., Occupy Fredericton was dismantled by City of Fredericton staff while Mayor Brad Woodside looked on quietly from the shadows off to the side. The deed was done under the cover of darkness, and police prevented CTV reporter Nick Moore from filming it by threatening him with arrest. Members of Occupy Fredericton on-site posed no threat to City workers or gave any sign of being belligerent. They put up no fight as their structure was removed.

We have several questions:

Why was it done secretly at night?

Why were the police there?

Who ordered the police not to allow filming of the incident by media?

Why weren't city council meetings on the issue transparent?

And who did council think they were acting on behalf of without a city-wide consensus on whether Occupy should stay or go?

The City of Fredericton has much to answer for on this issue. While they may have disliked Occupy protest tactics that led to a structure being on City Hall grounds, it's unacceptable for the City to have gone in during the dark of night and tear it down. Although the Occupiers were warned dismantlement was a strong possibility, they were also told by the Mayor on New Year's Eve it would likely end up in court. In giving mixed messages, the City played dirty with the Occupiers, and even dirtier by rousting them out at 5 a.m.

This behaviour by the Mayor and City Council shows they are a dictatorship that governs by decree and force, on behalf of themselves and their cronies, rather than fairness or the rule of law. Those who want change are bullied and silenced. That is what a dictatorship looks like. But it can change with a vote to get rid of them on May 14 in province-wide municipal elections. That is what a democracy looks like.

Occupy Fredericton is dismantled

Monday, 2 January 2012

Editorial: Woodside a dictator who needs to go?

Fredericton mayor Brad Woodside has recently been in the media announcing deadlines for Occupy Fredericton demonstrators to dismantle their hut on City Hall premises. So far he has backed down each time. But in a  meeting with the group on New Year's eve, he wanted to know when they planned to move off City Hall ground.

As seen in the video below, it was clear during the meeting His Worship took a hostile and aggressive tone with the Occupiers. He continually talks of how he has been patient with the group, attempted to be fair and understand their message; as if he has allowed them to remain there out of good will.

Woodside's behaviour is disturbing. It appears he is acting unilaterally when a city government is supposed to be a democracy. It leads this publication to ask, is he acting on how he feels about this issue, or the electorate? And without a referendum on the matter, how can he ask the Occupiers to leave without truly knowing how the entire city electorate feels about the Occupiers at their City Hall site? And when did it become okay for a city official, elected to do the bidding of the people, to tell the taxpaying public what to do, because like it or not, the Occupiers are taxpayers that help pay for the ground City Hall sits on. They have the right to be there legally and constitutionally.

By taking such an approach, Woodside is illustrating what the Occupy movement is fighting against - the establishment dictating terms to the public and ignoring their civil rights. A recent article in a local paper said Woodside will run for an eighth term in this year's spring municipal elections. Given his length of service, he is clearly a member of the city's establishment. But like all political figures in power too long, Woodside has become out of touch with the younger populace of the city and the changes they desire. What's more, with his obvious aversion to the Occupiers and his implication of get out or else, he is behaving like some third-world tinpot dictator who will bully them out of Phoenix Square with force if necessary.

That is not what a democracy looks like. Since we have heard rumblings of some citizens planning to run against Woodside in May's municipal elections, perhaps Frederictonians, the younger ones in particular, ought to exercise their right to vote and send a message to City Hall that they want changes to how their city is run, they won't be bullied and it's time for some fresh blood in the mayor's office.

Mayor Woodside takes aggressive tone with Occupiers on New Year's eve

Is Occupy unsafe or breaking by-laws?

Occupy initiatives for practical change

Happy New Year

Just a note to readers to inform you whereas the Legislature is closed until March and the shale gas issue is somewhat on the back burner, we here at The Purple Violet Press will be covering other matters of interest to us for the time being. We will continue to bring news on shale gas when it arises, welcome any submissions by readers on the subject and plan to carry on reading articles and research as it comes in. We hope you will stick with us as we work to make New Brunswick a better place to be in 2012. - ED

Occupy fredericton gives Woodside election warning

Occupy long-term goals

Occupy Evolution

Occupy Strategy Teaser