Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Twiigs currently running new public opinion poll on NB shale gas

 - from the Twiigs site: 

Created on February 27, 2012 by nb-nat-gas
Ends April 27, 2012

Please vote on your personal views in regards to safe and responsible development of natural gas and oil in the province or New Brunswick, Canada.

Do you support the Safe and Responsible Development of Natural Gas and Oil in New Brunswick?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Uncertain
  • Require More Information
Total Votes: 68 

To vote or find more comments and information go to:   http://www.twiigs.com/poll/News/90497

VOX POP - Jane Q. Public on bullying

Come one, come all...

Come and Hear Another Side of The SHALE GAS STORY
Based on Research done by the Taymouth Community Association

Blackville United Church Hall
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
7:30 pm

Refreshments Will be Served
For More Information Call 261-5001

Monday, 27 February 2012

Leo Hayes students hold anti-bullying protest today

Leo Hayes anti-bullying protesters speak to media in front of school

Leo Hayes student explains protest and ejection by Principal Pottle from school today

Leo Hayes student describes how bullies justify behaviour

Potential city council candidate, DEC member and parent on bullying

NDP slams Business New Brunswick for record of failure

ACOA architect Donald Savoie joins New Democrats in call for agency to close

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick’s New Democrats emphasized the need to end corporate welfare following a damning report by the Canadian Press stating that 23% of Business New Brunswick (BNB) investments over the last six years went to companies that have since declared bankruptcy or closed their doors.

New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy said, “Liberal and Conservative governments threw more than $150 million dollars down the drain. Money we need for schools, for research and development, to tackle poverty. Mr. Premier, shut down Business New Brunswick. Put a stop to corporate welfare. Liberal and Tory businesses will have to go somewhere else to find money to waste.”

New Democrats proposed ending corporate welfare in the 2010 provincial election. The party is pleased Professor Donald Savoie, key architect of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, has said the time for corporate welfare programs has passed.

Said Cardy, “Progressive parties, including mine, used to hope governments playing favourites with business could strengthen the economy. The idea was tried. It did not work. The people who benefit most from corporate welfare aren’t New Brunswick businesses or taxpayers. The people who benefit most are Liberal and Conservative insiders; too often Business New Brunswick has been used to pass money to their friends and family members. Just look at Atcon – nearly $70 million dollars to a company with direct connections to the last Liberal government.”

Cardy expressed surprise after a BNB spokesperson said many failed BNB-backed businesses reopened with the help of additional government money. He said, “Liberals and Conservatives believe the only way New Brunswick can survive is by bribing bad companies. I don’t buy it: I believe in a rich and fair New Brunswick where people with a great education, living in safe, green communities, apply for jobs with New Brunswick companies that grew because they were world class.”

Cardy said, “Existing companies will move to New Brunswick because they see a province that values new ideas, that’s open and creative. A New Democrat government will work hard to make sure our people have the skills they need, that they are healthy, that our regulations and infrastructure make sense.”

The New Democrats have proposed programs to replace BNB including a revenue-generating New Jobs Tax Credit to reward companies that create jobs.

Balsam fir likely to disappear from New Brunswick's forest - Conservation Council

Forest management needs to seriously consider climate change

FREDERICTON- According to a new Canadian Council of Forest Ministers' report, balsam fir, New Brunswick's provincial tree, is likely to disappear from most of New Brunswick by the end of the century as a result of climate change. The report states: "Balsam fir is likely to disappear from Nova Scotia and most of New Brunswick, and shift north into northeastern Quebec and Labrador." Balsam fir, New Brunswick's preferred choice for Christmas trees, has historically fed the pulp and paper, and timber industries in this province.

"It's not too late for the provincial government to seriously address climate change in future forest management," said David Coon, CCNB Action's Executive Director. "If we are serious about adapting to the effects of climate change, then we need to choose forest diversity over plantations. We need to refocus our cutting plans and silviculture spending on creating a resilient and diverse forest. We are currently favouring the regrowth of spruce and fir by cutting other species or by planting softwoods and spraying the hardwoods that try to grow back. We must focus on restoring our forests' natural diversity to adapt to a future of climate change," said Coon.

According to CCNB Action, going with status quo forestry will further degrade out forest's diversity and weaken its ability to recover from disturbances like fires, pest outbreaks, winter thaws, droughts and floods that come with climate change.

"The Alward government will decide next month whether to adopt the previous government’s plan to intensify the production of spruce and fir in the public forest by permitting the clearcutting of wildlife habitat zones and more than doubling the amount of natural forest converted to plantations or shift gears and manage for diversity and resilience in our public forest," said Tracy Glynn, CCNB's Forest Campaigner.

Forests play an important role in carbon capture and storage. Researchers have concluded that old forests continue to store and accumulate carbon at a much greater rate than had previously been thought, a fact yet to be considered in forest management plans.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The fracking frontline: a tale of two Pennsylvanias - The Guardian UK

In what the Pennsylvania governor says will 'level the playing field for gas exploration', a controversial bill has been passed, rendering previous zoning laws void. With the new bill hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can take place as close as 90 metres (300ft) from residential houses. This film visits Dallas township where the citizens' engagement has kept the gas exploration at bay – for now

Boiestown area vote to continue with shale gas concerns local group

Companies can go on to drill in area 

- from the Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance: 

As previously reported, in the summer of 2011 SouthWest Energy (SWN) broke provincial regulations by conducting seismic testing for shale gas within the Rural Community of Upper Miramichi (RCUM) without permission.  As a result in October 2011, UMSA made a presentation to the RCUM mayor and council asking them to take action by: 

      Writing a letter of admonishment addressed to the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and Shale Gas group expressing disapproval of SWN for carrying out exploration without permission.
      Passing a motion denying permission for further shale gas exploration in the RCUM.
      Passing a motion denying permission for shale gas production in the RCUM.

In response, at the monthly council meeting held on Dec 19, 2011 Mayor Clowater stated that council had discussed the issues and had decided not to take further action against SWN and described SWN’s disregard for regulations as “an honest mistake”.  In a three to one vote, the council went on to pass a motion allowing SWN to continue shale gas exploration within RCUM’s boundaries.  Councillor Fowler was the sole dissenter. 

What does this mean?  According to provincial regulations, companies looking for oil and gas deposits in New Brunswick must obtain permission to explore within municipal boundaries.  Once testing is complete, these companies do NOT require further permission to start drilling for production.  Therefore blocking exploration is the only means to prevent oil and gas companies from entering our community.  Once drilling begins, there is no way to ask them to leave.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pet policy reversal a step in the right direction - NDP

"Now deal with the rats, drug dealers, and other pests" says New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy

FREDERICTON - New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy thanked Social Development Minister Sue Stultz for doing the right thing by reversing the eviction orders for NB Housing tenants in Moncton and ordering a review of the no-pets policy. The sudden reversal, two days after the Minister called on social housing residents to turn themselves in if they had a pet, comes in the face of mounting concern about serious health and safety concerns in NB Housing including reports of rat infestations, mould, drug use and other criminal activity. The New Democrats have worked with residents to make their concerns heard.

Cardy said, “As New Brunswick’s constructive opposition New Democrats join the seniors and other residents of NB Housing in recognizing Minister Stultz¹s decision to apologize for and reverse the eviction orders, and to let the residents keep their pets.”

Cardy said, “This controversy has brought up important issues around the way NB Housing operates, and concerns over the maintenance of its properties. I hope that Minister Stultz will, in addition to reviewing the pet policy, take action on the problems of health, safety, and crime that are a serious problem in many NB Housing complexes. We are happy residents get to keep their pets but now we have to make sure rats, drug dealers, and other unwanted pests are cleaned out of buildings paid for by New Brunswick taxpayers. New Brunswick's New Democrats look forward to working with residents of NB Housing, the government, and other partners to make life better for all tenants in social housing.”

Information from the Ministry of Social Development on the policy states:

•       There will be no evictions in connection with letters that were recently sent by the Moncton regional office.
•       Residents that recently received a letter asking that they find other accommodations for their pets can disregard that letter. It was sent in error.
•       Minister Stultz has instructed that Social Development immediately begin an internal review of what reasons would be considered medically required to allow a pet.
•       The objective of the review is to ensure the no-pet policy balances the obligation to protect residents from dangerous pets or unhealthy living environments while respecting the important medical benefits a family pet can bring.
•       While the review is taking place, the no pet policy will be suspended for current residents. But consideration will be given if concern is raised about pets that pose a danger to the community."

The Eviction: Occupy Fredericton vs City of Fredericton

By Andre Faust
The Lefteye blog
February 23, 2012

Occupy Fredericton took physical occupation of Phoenix Square October 15, 2011 which is located by City Hall. The Occupy tent remained there until 5:00 am January 03, 2012, Orders from the mayor were given to the city workers to physically demolish the camp, city workers proceed to demolish the camp while there were still occupiers residing in the tent. Alex Davenport one of the occupiers was struck on the head by falling a 2 x 4, no serious injury was reported.
Two and a half days prior to the order to tear down the tent, the occupiers at Phoenix square where hand delivered two letters one from Mayor Brad Woodside, the other from city engineer Jamer Murray.
The Letter from The Mayor informs the occupiers that they are prohibited from:
1. Installing, erecting or maintaining a building or other structure in contravention of Section 5 of By-law No. T -4, A By-law Respecting Streets and Sidewalks. A written notice from the Director of Engineering and Public Works is attached to and forms part of this Notice.
2. Placing or causing to be placed an enhanced attraction signage in contravention of Section 12.01 (5) of By-law No. T -4, A By-law Respecting Streets and Sidewalks.
The second letter from the city engineer states that:
Pursuant to Section 5 of By-law No. T-4, A By-law Respecting Streets and Sidewalks, you are hereby given three (3) days notice to remove any and all structures that are located in Phoenix Square, being a public square and a public place in the City of Fredericton.
If you fail to remove any and all structures from Phoenix Square after three (3) days you will be in violation of By-law No. T-4. Please be advised that
every person who violates any provision of this by-law is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) and not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).
In addition, please be advised that under Section 12 of By-law No. T-4, A By-law
Respecting Streets and Sidewalks, enhanced attraction signage is not permitted on a street, which includes a public square or any other public place in the City of Fredericton without the permission of City Council.
Both of the letter and the notice refers to section 5
The Director of Engineering and Public Works shall give to any person who erects or maintains a building or structure contrary to this section three days notice in writing to remove the same or such portion thereof as may be within or over a street. If such person fails to obey the notice, the Director of Engineering and Public Works shall report the facts and circumstances to the City Clerk.
Included in the notice is the penalty clause section 16.
Every person who violates any provision of this by-law is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) and not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).
According to Dr. Groarke, Section 5 creates and offense, but legislation as such contains three separate parts.
part 1. A Substantive clause that prohibits some form of
part 2. a clause providing for Notice.
part 3. A penalty clause that sets out what the penalty is for violating part 1.
The problem is that there is no clause that prohibited the erection of the tent, therefore was no violation so the notice become void.
On numerous occasions Occupy Fredericton has ask the City to take the matter to the courts for a decision. The city refused to have the matter heard in the courts and countered with “Other municipalities have taken the matter to the courts and won on constitution grounds, there is no need to waste the tax payers money”. However the Fredericton situation was different because this is not a constitutional question but an action from the city on a clause that doesn’t exist. In all likelihood the city would have failed if the matter would have been taken to the courts because of the missing provision.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Local citizen frustrated with MLA Brian MacDonald's lack of publicity for meetings on shale gas

Below is an e-mail local resident Mark D'Arcy sent MLA Brian MacDonald, from whom he has yet to receive a response.

Dear Honourable member Brian MacDonald,

This is a follow-up to my phone request a couple of weeks ago.  I requested information on when your town hall meeting will take place as part of public consultation on shale gas.  I did not hear back from your office.   

At a speech to Moncton Rotary Club and Moncton Chamber of Commerce on October 03, 2011, Premier David Alward promised that MLAs would host town hall meetings in each provincial riding as part of public consultation on shale gas.  He promised that these town hall meetings would take place in October. 

When I was speaking with your office in early January, I learned that you held a meeting on November 17, 2011 at the Stepping Stone Senior Centre.  I understand that there were no notices for this meeting in the newspapers, no notices using e-mail or social media, and no notice posted on your MLA website.  Your office said that there were radio announcements about the meeting. 

A meeting without public notice is not a public meeting. 

When will you be holding your town hall meeting as part of public consultation on shale gas? 

Sincerely yours,

Mark D’Arcy

Village of Doaktown clarifies stance on shale gas

Press release sent out today to clear up confusion

The Village of Doaktown is open for business to any endeavor, be that an industrial or commercial operation which would include Shale Gas Operations. 

The Mayor and Village Council are not against fracking or hydraulic fracturing, forest operations or any other industrial operation. We do as that any operation be done safely and responsibly.

The Mayor and Council did pass a resolution at a regularly scheduled Council meeting on February 9, 2012 to protect the water supply of our residents.

The energy companies currently operating under license in our area have taken no exception with the resolution that we passed on Feb. 9, 2012 and they are committed to protecting the environment and any water supply.

The Mayor and Village Council have worked closely with SWN Resources and their agents with their efforts in and around our area last summer. SWN Resources have been highly professional and cooperative in their dealings with the Village of Doaktown. The Village of Doaktown and SWN Resources are committed to continue to work together for our mutual benefit.

The Village of Doaktown was recently the victim of a press release by others to indicate the Village had taken position against shale gas, and that is not true. Anyone making a false representation of our policy may be subject to legal action.

Mayor Charles E. Stewart 
Doaktown Village Council


Rats, not cats: Minister Stultz's message to assisted-housing residents

New Democrats message to Stultz: apologize or quit

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on Social Development Minister Sue Stultz to end her cruel crusade against pet owners in assisted housing.

Cardy said, “Minister Stultz was aware of a rat problem in Parkton Heights in the fall of last year. Months later the rats are still there. Other residents have complained about mould in basements and used needles
littering the common areas.”

Cardy said, “Now the government is taking action. Not to fix the rat problem. Not to fix the mould problem. Not to fix the problems of drugs and crime that can make life in assisted housing difficult. No, Minister
Stultz is spending taxpayers money to make people’s lives even more difficult by forcing them to choose between their pets and the roof over their heads.”

Minister Stultz has sent pet eviction notices to residents of two assisted housing complexes. In one case residents have less than one week to get rid of their pets. Resident Melanie Dennis said, “My son and I have been through a lot of difficult times, and our dog Zane helps him through it. We have so many other problems in our community - why is Sue Stultz targeting our pets?”

On Monday, Minister Stultz said residents in assisted housing who own pets, in some cases people who had previously told her department about their dogs and cats “should be calling [her office] and saying well why
aren't you enforcing this [eviction notice] because we do have a pet.”

Cardy said, “Minister Stultz, don’t ask your tenants to do your job. Fix this problem: You can change the rule that justified this cruel campaign. You can fix the serious problems affecting assisted-housing. And if you’re
not capable of performing your duties you should resign.”

On Tuesday, NB Housing made an exception to the no-pet policy for Mr. Sonier, a man from Parkton Heights with cerebral palsy, and is allowing him to keep his dog Molly.

“I’m happy that Mr. Sonier will get to keep Molly. Now Minister Stultz has shown she has a heart. Why spend tax dollars enforcing a rule that has been ignored for so long? Make the change, and let everyone keep their pets.”

New Democrats are calling for the Minister to focus on problem tenants, not pets, and for the government to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to remove the right of landlords to evict people because they own pets. The New Democrats are calling for protection for all landlords and tenants and to target criminal behaviour and the other serious problems affecting public housing.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Lepreau re-start should wait until earthquake studies complete - CCNB

CCNB Action is calling on NB Power to delay the re-start of its nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau until the public utility has completed its earthquake hazards studies and made them public.

On February 17th, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) renewed NB Power's license to operate the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant and granted permission to re-start its nuclear reactor.  As a condition of its decision, the CNSC ordered NB Power to carry out site specific seismic hazard assessments and make them available to the public.  NB Power's license renewal application relied on earthquake assessments that were decades old.

CCNB's Saint John Chapter argued at the regulatory hearings in December that  Point Lepreau could not withstand a serious earthquake in the area, a point of controversy when Point Lepreau was originally constructed.

"We brought forward evidence from Ken Burke, a seismologist and expert on the history of earthquakes in New Brunswick that the next significant earthquake in southern New Brunswick would be in the Passamaquoddy Bay region," said Sharon Murphy, a CCNB Director who chairs the organization's Saint John chapter.  "We used NB Power's own data to demonstrate that Point Lepreau is not adequately designed to withstand tremors from a significant earthquake in the Passamaquoddy Bay region," she said.
CCNB's intervention before the CNSC convince  the nuclear regulator to require NB Power to carry out new site-specific seismic assessments. 
"It makes no sense to re-start the nuclear reactor until the earthquake assessments are completed and released to the public,"  said Murphy.  "We are asking NB Power to err on the side of caution and delay the re-start of the nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau until they have assessed the earthquake risks," she said.

NDP Convention in April

The New Brunswick New Democrats will have their biennial convention from April 13th – 15th.

The convention will be held at:
                       Delta Brunswick
                       39 King St
                       Saint John

Convention activities will begin at 5:00pm on Friday, April 13th and end at 1:00pm on Sunday, April 15th.

For inquiries, please contact Kat Heaney at 506-470-65449 or kheaney@nbndp.ca.

New Democrat leader calls for stop to government department donations

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick New Democrat Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on Premier David Alward to put a stop to government departments and agencies making donations and sponsoring events.

In recent weeks the PC Party has been forced to return donations from two separate government agencies. Horizon Health and WorkSafeNB came under fire after it was discovered they purchased tickets to an “Evening with the Premier” fundraising dinner.

Sharon Tucker, the chair of WorkSafeNB and three time Conservative candidate, attended the fundraiser on behalf of WorksafeNB. Ms. Tucker knew it was a party fundraiser before attending.

“New Brunswick’s tax dollars should be spent on public services, not private parties for political insiders,” says Cardy. "Premier Alward must investigate government department spending for donations and sponsorships, report the totals to the public, and stop this practise for good.”

“Premier Alward put your foot down and stop government departments from making these type of donations,” says Cardy.

In 2011, Business NB and Invest NB sponsored a provincially funded Enterprise Fredericton golf tournament and reception.

“New Brunswickers should not be footing the bill so bureaucrats can rub elbows with politicians,” says Cardy.

In 2006 former Premier Bernard Lord ordered all New Brunswick Crown Corporations to stop donations after NB Power donated $400,000 to the University of New Brunswick.

“Premier Lord made the right decision. Premier Alward enforce the rules,” says Cardy.

“A New Democrat government would stop government departments and agencies from donating to charities and other government departments,” says Cardy, “and put that money towards the front-line services that New Brunswickers need.”

Message to Caller

To the gentleman who called this morning regarding Windsor Energy and Ittihad Capital Corporation: Your message was difficult to comprehend due to accent and technical difficulties. Also your contact number was a dead end when your call was returned.

If you would like to contact this publication and pose the questions you say you have, please e-mail at thepurplevioletpress@gmail.com

Your inquiries are welcomed. 

Thank you.

Cheryl Norrad
Creator, Publisher, Editor, Reporter
The Purple Violet Press

Friday, 17 February 2012

Maude Barlow reports on the water war

Above, Maude Barlow relates a story from the water wars during her 
talk at UNB last night. 

By Cheryl Norrad

FREDERICTON - International water activist Maude Barlow spoke at UNB Fredericton last night to a packed auditorium, and overflow room, at the Wu Conference Centre as part of the university's Andrews Initiative speaker series, 2012 Year of Water.

Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, spoke bluntly on the worldwide water crisis, beginning with other countries around the globe and relating it to the situation in Canada and New Brunswick.

"We are running out of water on the planet," said Barlow, blaming pollution, improper crops and land-based industrial systems that use up water.

China, with its booming economy, she said, is quickly using up its water supply, while India has already hit the bottom of its water table, along with Australia and countries in the Middle East.

"Four thousand cities in China are in danger of being deserts, including Beijing, where tumbleweeds have been seen blowing down streets," said Barlow.

Citing U.N. statistics, Barlow said by 2040 two-thirds of the planet will be in water stress. Already there are conflicts arising due to the unequal distribution of water supplies. Calling it water theft, Barlow described how Mexico City runs a pipeline almost 100 miles into the countryside, taking water from rural citizens to supply urban dwellers. Uniformed security guard the pipeline and anyone caught trying to stop the water being pumped to the city is dealt with violently.

China is taking water from the Tibetan Himalayas through large dams it has constructed, diverting it for use. This is causing dissension with India and will likely lead to a future conflagration over water between the two.

Barlow said the crux of the global fight over water is between it being a commodity versus it being a human right. The commodification of water includes water utility companies running on a for-profit basis and bottled water companies. Barlow gave a shocking example of the scale of pollution and waste by the bottled water industry.

"In one year, the amount of discarded empty bottles of water can go to the moon and back 65 times," she said.

When water becomes a tradable property, it can become too expensive to afford. Barlow said the Australian government gave companies water rights for trading and selling, but when it realized what it had done and tried to buy the rights back, it couldn't. The water was too expensive.

She also said many are surprised to hear the water crisis is hitting the United States, one of the richest countries in the world.

"Water supplies in Detroit have been cut to 90,000 families because the city can't afford more."

Barlow opened the part of her discussion on Canada's water situation about how Canadians are used to having water on tap as much as they want, when they want it.

"We have a myth of abundance," she said. "We have to change our thinking."

Describing water policy in Canada, Barlow said the national water law is forty-two years old, the country has no national standards on water and the national water supply hasn't been mapped by governments.

"There is no national energy policy in Canada...Harper believes in nothing but open markets...an invasion of the North is coming to get our resources there...Harper is dangerous," she said.

The shortage of water in Canada can be seen in how ninety per cent of First Nations don't have running water in their homes, Lake Winnipeg is dead, and the Great Lakes are being overextracted and could be bone dry in 80 years. Experts predict Alberta will be the first province that won't have water due to the ravages of industry.

Worrying Barlow the most is the coming Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) Canada is currently negotiating with Europe that will give big European water corporations the right to challenge any province or municipality that doesn't open up its market.

"CETA is bigger than NAFTA, corporations from Europe will have access to 'sub-national procurement' where all federal monies for provincial and municipal spending will go into public/private partnerships and outside companies can bid on [water] contracts."

Barlow also forsees more civil disobedience in Canada over the water issue with First Nations taking the lead in the protests.

Turning to New Brunswick, Barlow showed she was fully aware of water issues here by mentioning the plight of the people who've lost their wells in Penobsquis, the expanding potash industry and lamented last week's announcement on wetlands by Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney as a "disgrace to government."

"New Brunswick water is not protected due to the voracious appetite of industry...it's clear the Alward government is giving preference to industry and putting communities on the backburner," Barlow said.

She also brought up the contentious shale gas fracking issue that has been making headlines in the province in the past year, describing the impact of the industry on water and how it has brought protest groups together.

"The Council of Canadians will stand one-hundred per cent with you and call for a moratorium on fracking; we have to get a moratorium on fracking in this province," said Barlow to applause.

Concerning to Barlow is the fact New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with no ban on commercial water exports.

"If water becomes a tradable commodity under NAFTA, American companies can take it," she said.

Barlow advised the audience to fight the fracking industry here by using laws beyond its borders.

"The right to water is an international law...signatories are bound by three obligations...the right to respect [is one] where no one can come in and take the water. This should be used to fight fracking," she said.

Circling back to her description of the water war being one between commodities and rights, Barlow outlined the Council of Canadians position on water rights as a threefold approach: 1. Water has rights; it is sacred and must be protected through restoration and watershed planning. 2. Water is a public trust where government has a fiduciary responsibility to entrench water as a public trust necessary for life. She gave Vermont as an example of this with its legislation saying the state's water belongs to the people of Vermont. 3. Water is a human right and it's equitable distribution around the world has to be ensured.

Barlow ended her talk by encouraging New Brunswickers to fight for their water as "water warriors" because, "...the local fight for water is part of the global struggle."

Thursday, 16 February 2012

CAPP bold in bringing its power to bear on NB

The reach of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers lobby in New Brunswick and how the province is quietly going along 

By Cheryl Norrad

Last month provincial media became aware Angie Leonard, a member of the province's steering committee on shale gas, was hired by the most powerful oil and gas lobby in Canada, The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). But overlooked in the discovery of that knowledge was an agreement made between CAPP, and a locally created provincial lobby group headed by employees of CAPP and industry.

"As part of a memorandum of agreement reached in December 13th, 2011, CAPP and the New Brunswick Oil and Natural Gas Association have formed a task group comprised of representatives from both associations. The task group's objective is to engage with communities, business leaders, governments and people interested in an open, fact-based dialogue about natural gas and oil development.," wrote CAPP spokesman Markus Ermisch in a press release dated January 18, 2012 to online financial publication, Canada Newswire.

CAPP made no mention of Ermisch's announcement on it's own website, and there is no information available online for The New Brunswick Oil and Gas Association (NBOGA). Leonard, and CAPP manager for Atlantic Canada, Paul Barnes, who is co-chairman of NBOGA, are the only two publicly noted as being part of this gas association lobby group in the press release.

However, when contacted, Ermisch said the group is comprised of about 9 members, including SWN general manager Tom Alexander and Corridor's Phillip Knoll.

It seems the full court press for industry is on and bearing down on little NB. 

After formally releasing it's principles for the hydro-fracking industry a few weeks ago, CAPP's Vice-President of Operations, David Pryce, spoke on behalf of the companies he represents during a two-day media tour here, telling the province what it should do to implement CAPP's principles. 

"What we're saying is if these things make sense, we'd certainly encourage the province to look at how they might adopt them and apply them in a regulatory world...there is a gap that we're trying to fill," said Pryce in an interview with Terry Seguin of CBC's Information Morning Fredericton a few weeks ago.  

The province, on the other hand, has been reluctant to admit it's close relationship with CAPP, and didn't reveal the Leonard defection to the lobby until it's hand was forced by local media. The Alward government has often been truculent in it's dealings with media since coming to power, but has been especially so on the shale gas file, keeping reporters at bay by ignoring e-mail and telephone inquiries.

However, research on how CAPP and the province became connected is revealing.
A spokesman for CAPP said recently the New Brunswick government sought out the services of the powerful energy advocate after leaning of it's work in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Members of the Alward government visited these provinces as part of a learning tour about shale gas after the administration came into power in 2010.

"A request for submissions went out by the New Brunswick government to BC and Nova Scotia for information on our work in those provinces," said Travis Davies from his CAPP office in Calgary.

In learning of the request, Barnes got in touch with the New Brunswick government to advise the province on how to proceed with its burgeoning shale gas industry, bringing with him the power of an organization that advocates for companies producing about ninety per cent of the country's natural gas and oil.

Ermisch also said CAPP has been involved over the past year with the shale gas industry in New Brunswick, but got "directly involved" when Angie Leonard came on-board.

This contradicts the impression the Alward government is projecting on this file in formulating what it calls it's own unique set of regulations for the province's shale gas industry. Four were created and announced last June in response to growing public worries over environmental effects of shale gas fracking expected to begin within the next few years. They are as follows:
  • conduct baseline testing on all potable water wells within a minimum distance of 200 metres of seismic testing and 500 metres of oil or gas drilling before operations can begin. These will be minimum requirements and may be increased depending upon the situation;
  • provide full disclosure of all proposed, and actual, contents of all fluids and chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracing) process; and
  • establish a security bond to protect property owners from industrial accidents, including the loss of/or contamination of drinking water, that places the burden of proof on industry.
  • The provincial government has also committed to develop a formula so landowners and nearby communities can share in the financial benefits of the natural gas industry.
"These are some of the toughest regulations in North America," said Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup.

However, those regulations have yet to be officially legislated as part of the province's Oil and Gas Act.

In fact, the government was caught with it's pants down last fall when shale gas companies Windsor Energy and SWN Resources were discovered to have broken municipal laws by not informing local communities of seismic exploration work within their boundaries. There were no existing rules to deal with the violations, showing regulations that had been established to be inadequate.

Both Premier Alward and Northrup called for regulations to be tightened, with the Natural Resources department announcing in December it was working on doing so. However, the influence of CAPP on the process has never been directly acknowledged.

"Considerable work has been done so far by several departments, and we look forward to releasing full details of the world-class regulations..." said Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup in a press release dated December 14, 2011.   

Pryce also claimed in his interview with Seguin that, to his knowledge, CAPP has had no input in the province's regulatory process. But the optics beg to differ. 

This publication noticed a link to CAPP last fall on the new shale gas website set up by Natural Resources. When inquiries were made twice via e-mail about whether CAPP was working with the province to formulate regulations, there was a reluctance to acknowledge the presence of the biggest oil and gas lobby group in Canada, or that there was already a link to it on the website.

"Everyone will have a chance to input on any change to regulations as is the case with any regulation changes made by government...We would fully expect that CAPP...will be sending us feedback when they are put on the site," said Marc Belliveau, a spokesman for the Natural Gas Group.

It was after these questions about CAPP the link to it on the shale gas website disappeared, never to return. Perhaps it was due to the the company's mission statement:

Maintain a positive, collaborative profile for the industry with governments and the public, thereby facilitating achievement of the goals of CAPP
  • Maintain a proactive communication plan that supports CAPP's mission and goals
  • Implement issue-specific communication plans that deliver consistent and effective messages to internal and external audiences.
Belliveau also claims only a vague awareness of NBOGA, deferring to CAPP as having a better knowledge of who is operating within this province.

"I saw reference to them in a news release by CAPP a few weeks ago. It's a fairly new reference, but it is the group of oil and gas producers and exploration companies working within the province. You may want to check with CAPP for a more detailed explanation though of the organization," he said.

Obviously a relationship exists between CAPP and the province. But it seems no one wants to come clean about how deep into the regulatory framework CAPP has penetrated. 

In September 2011, CAPP released it's Guiding Principles for Hydraulic Fracturing to industry members, outlining the obligations it formulated for member companies to follow.

The language of the CAPP document is very similar to that found in Northrup's release on December 14, 2011 about tightening up regulations, which itself was entitled Guiding Principles for Natural Gas Regulations.

The September CAPP statement: 

  • We will safeguard the quality and quantity of regional surface and groundwater resources, through sound wellbore construction practices, sourcing fresh water alternatives where appropriate, and recycling water for reuse as much as practical.
  • We will measure and disclose water use with the goal of continuing to reduce our effect on the environment.
  • We will support the development of fracturing fluid additives with the least environmental risks.
  • We will support the disclosure of fracturing fluid additives.
  • We will continue to advance, collaborate on and communicate technologies and best practices that reduce the potential environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing.

The December DNR statement:
  • monitoring to protect water quality;
  • addressing the need for sustainable water use;
  • protecting public health and safety;
  • protecting communities and the environment;
  • reducing financial risk and protecting landowner rights;
  • addressing potential impacts of geophysical (seismic) activities;
  • taking steps to prevent potential contaminants from escaping the well bore;
  • verifying geological containment outside the well bore;
  • managing wastes and taking steps to prevent potential contaminants from escaping the well pad;
  • addressing air emissions;
  • maintaining an effective regulatory framework; and
  • sharing information.
The provincial announcements have comparable language and buzzwords to that of CAPP. And with Angie Leonard jumping from the Natural Gas Group steering committee to NBOGA, which also has CAPP personnel onboard, the influence is unmistakable.

Although the government said it wants regulatory input from other stakeholders, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB), a leading provincial environmental lobby on the other side of the debate, has yet to be consulted. When Minister Northrup was asked by this publication in December for the reason, he stated the government has it's own experts for that work.

CCNB spokesperson Stephanie Merrill isn't surprised by what looks like double-teaming by industry lobby groups to hold sway over the government as it forms it's regulations.

"As the shale gas debate continues to remain heated, we would expect to see more and more lobby by professional oil and gas associations. It is tough to compete with the money and influence backing these lobby groups. We would hope however, that the provincial government would give the respect due to the people of this province, to listen to them first and foremost, as the people who have the most stake in the future of this province."

In January, CAPP announced it's operating practices for the hydraulic fracturing industry Canada-wide. The Alward government is set to unveil it's finalized regulations in March.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Doaktown votes to ban shale gas exploration and extraction

On  February 9, 2012, the Doaktown Village Council, in a public meeting , unanimously adopted a resolution  asking the province, “to establish a formal well field protection area” for the village after completion of a “hydro-geological survey of the aquifers” .

  “Following determination of the parameters of the aquifers: the Village asks the Province to ban any and all exploration for natural gas, or extraction within or near those well field areas."

Read the motion in full below:

Resolution of Council
February 9, 2012 

Whereas the Village of Doaktown considers a safe and secure water supply essential for the existence of its citizens;

Whereas the Village antiquated sewage system threatened Village water;

And Whereas the Village of Doaktown with the assistance of the other two levels of government has spent approximately $9,000,000 since 1983, to upgrade and expand its sewage and water systems;

And Whereas it has decided to spend an additional $1,200,000 to install water treatment plant beside its new well on the North side;

And Whereas the Province’s granting exploration companies the right to test for commercial quantities of natural gas in and around the Village may jeopardize the Village’s water supply;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Village of Doaktown asks the Province to:

Complete a hydro-geological survey of the aquifer(s) that supply both the Village springs on the South Side and the new well on the North Side;

To establish a formal well field protection area for both North and South Sides based on the survey;

Following determination of the parameters of the aquifers in question; the Village asks the Province to ban any and all exploration for natural gas or extraction within or near those well field areas.

The Village further asks the Province to provide bench mark tests of all wells and springs, including the Village’s 30% residents dependent on their private wells or springs, within its municipal boundaries at no cost to the home owner or Village. These bench mark tests shall be given to the Village and affected home owners and shall become the baseline for any potential damage to the water supply now or in the future resulting from the exploration or extraction of natural gas.

Should any damage or contamination to the Village’s water supply occur from either the exploration or extraction of natural gas, or any connected potentially damaging activity, the Province would automatically assume any costs for remediation up to and including purchase of any and all affected properties at replacement value. Such payment would be immediate and it would be the Province’s responsibility to recover its costs from the gas exploration or extraction company.  

The Village of Doaktown has assumed a large and onerous tax burden to provide this essential water service and cannot responsibly permit the Province to threaten its purity through its issuing leases to gas drilling companies. Since the Province has made the decision on this issue, it must be accountable to any and all persons suffering damages.

Further, since the surrounding communities of Storeytown, Hazelton, Blissfield, Grand Lake Road, Bettsburg, Nelson Hollow, and Big Hole Brook, are an integral part of the greater Doaktown, the Council asks that the same protection be given to them as well.

BE IT MOVED by Councillor Price and seconded by Councillor Gillespie to duly adopt the preceding Resolution of Council.


Natural gas leak forces evacuation in St. George, NB

At approximately 12:30 a.m. on February 15, 2012, a member of the District 1 RCMP on patrol in St. George, N.B. detected a foul smell near the intersection of Main and Portage Streets.  The St. George Fire Department and Enbridge Gas were called to the scene. The source of the smell was found to be a leaking natural gas meter serving a local business.
Ten residents of a nearby apartment building were evacuated as a precaution.  They were allowed to return to the building about an hour later.  There were no injuries.
Foul play is not suspected.

Maude Barlow to speak at UNB

photo credit: national speakers bureau

Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the public advocacy group, The Council of Canadians, will be at UNB in Fredericton on Thursday, February 16, at 7:30 pm in the Harper-Kent Auditorium, Wu Conference Centre.

Barlow, an internationally recognized activist, will be taking part in the university's speaker series, 2012 Year of Water. Her talk is entitled the Global Water Crisis and the Challenge for Canadians. Admission is free.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Hospital revenues should not be executiver social slush funds or politcal war chest

-People's Alliance want re-investment in actual health care services

There has to be a better way to spend money on New Brunswick's health care system than by attending high-priced fundraising dinners says The People's Alliance of New Brunswick party.
The People's Alliance of New Brunswick recommends both the governing Progressive Conservatives and the executives at Horizon Health Network provide the people of this province more than an 'Oops... we misunderstood.'

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said it's nothing short of nauseating to see this type of mismanagement of health care funding and the deceit of trying to pass everything off as mistakes.

"The Horizon Health Network is cutting front line services while sending executives to fundraisers that they don't know what the money is going towards," Austin said. "Either Horizon or the PC government isn't prioritizing the needs of the people in this province,  they're replacing the public's need with their own greed."

Austin added with last fall's announcement of 65 health care job cuts it almost seems as if the health authority lacks a sense of direction in its upper echelon of management.

"Last October, Horizon knew there would be 65 jobs cut, but couldn't say if they were management or front line. Now we have executives going out for an evening and spending a few thousand dollars and they have no idea who they were giving the money to," Austin said. "And if all it takes to make up for this is a simple, 'Oops, I'm sorry,' all it will do is make them and the Alward PC's more cautious the next time they want money to go from one wallet to the other."

People's Alliance party president Jason Inness says he finds it a difficult pill to swallow that the Conservatives didn't know Horizon Health was unaware it was a political fundraiser.

"The PC Party took the money without question and the only reason they care is because the media found out," Inness said.

Inness added it all comes down once again to members of the two traditional parties, the New Brunswick PC's and Liberals, having a firm belief that they are above the average New Brunswicker.

"Members of these two parties, their associates and many top executives of government departments continue to function like aristocrats at a king's court," he said. "Meanwhile the people who pay the taxes and need these services continue to suffer from the poor management skills of the current political class."

The People's Alliance firmly believes there are better ways to use revenues generated at our hospitals, such as aiding in fundraisers for better equipment.

"From this point forward the health care system needs to focus on re-investing the revenues they generate back into the system," Austin said. "And that should go for all revenues the hospitals take in. The last thing we want to see is hospital executives using the money collected from vending machines going toward entry fees at the Liberal's annual golf tournament."

Monday, 13 February 2012

STU professor spoke Saturday on destruction of Occupy shelter

Serious legal questions have arisen from the destruction of the Occupy Fredericton shelter at 5AM on January 3rd, 2012. Dr. Paul Groarke, a St. Thomas University criminology professor, discussed these issues at STU on Saturday by analyzing the relevant facts, such as the letters presented to Occupy Fredericton protesters, Charter rights, Fredericton by-laws, and what appears to have been the exercise of brute force instead of lawful authority. Handouts were provided to attendees, and a discussion period followed the lecture.

You can find Dr. Groarke's lecture notes at the following link: https://t.co/mQFVf6u6

Dr. Groarke is a criminal lawyer with over thirty years of experience, as well as a professor of criminology. He has not been retained as legal counsel by Occupy Fredericton or any of its members, as the Law Society of New Brunswick has not granted him permission to do so. He does, however, have an interest in the rule of law as a citizen and academic.

- video courtesy Andre Faust

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Canadian abducted by Israel in Fredericton this week

David Heap, a linguistics professor at the University of Western Ontario and Palestine solidarity activist, was on board the Canadian boat, the Tahrir, when it was seized by the Israeli navy in international waters. The Tahrir was part of an ongoing global solidarity movement challenging the blockade of Gaza and working for the freedom for Palestine.

 Heap will speak in Fredericton on Thursday, Feb. 16th, 7:30pm at Carleton Hall, Room 139, UNB Fredericton. Free admission.

Three Canadians, who were forcibly abducted from the Canadian ship Tahrir by Israel and detained without charge this past fall, are demanding the Conservative government press Israel return the boat and its contents. And they are taking this message directly to nine communities from coast to coast in an upcoming speaking tour beginning February 15 to address Canada’s role in the blockade of Gaza and give their firsthand account of the capture at sea of the Tahrir.

On November 4th last year, with a wink and a nod from the Canadian government, Israel sent a clear and unambiguous message to Canadian activists intent on challenging the illegal blockade of Gaza: Israel will not hesitate to use military force against you, and your government will do nothing to stop us.
Londoner David Heap, Montrealer Ehab Lotayef, and Karen DeVito of Vancouver, were on board at the time and are calling on the Canadian government to demonstrate its commitment to international law and the treaties to which it is a signatory, by:
  • exerting all necessary diplomatic pressure for the prompt recovery of the Tahrir, the medical aid, and all Canadian property illegally seized during a lawful, peaceful voyage to Gaza and to facilitate the completion of its mission;
  • insisting that Canada meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1860 and press Israel to facilitate the unimpeded movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, including by sea as mandated by International law.
"The Tahrir was purchased with donations from hundreds of ordinary Canadians and Canadian civil society organizations," said Heap. "Our grass-roots fund-raising campaign lasted more than a year, and now Harper’s Conservatives are doing nothing to help in the delivery of our ship and the $30,000 in medical aid on board, which the civil society in Gaza is waiting for," he added.

Israel has held the Tahrir and its contents in its possession without justification since November 2011. “Israel has never found, or even claimed to have found, anything dangerous or prohibited on the Tahrir,” said Lotayef. “Even according to Israel’s own arbitrary list of blockaded items, our vessel and its contents should be allowed to reach Gaza without delay. Yet this theft is added to the countless reckless actions for which Israel is being granted impunity by the Harper Tories,” added Lotayef.

For more info, visit: www.tahrir.ca

Organized by the Fredericton Palestine Solidarity, Jews for a Just Peace Fredericton, UNB Dept. of Political Science, Fredericton District Labour Council, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Fredericton/Oromocto Local and the Fredericton Peace Coalition.