FREDERICTON - An estimated fifty people turned out for the first anti-shale gas protest of 2012 on the grounds of the Legislature in Fredericton today at noon. After about thirty minutes at the House, the group marched downtown to City Hall where it finished up.
Organized in response to statements made by the Alward government on budget day to move forward with shale gas exploration in New Brunswick, the group consisted of core members, plus several new faces.
Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup briefly spoke to protesters after emerging from the Legislature's morning session. However, his presence wasn't appreciated by some.
"I didn't want to talk to him," said Heather Whalen, a strong supporter of the anti-shale gas movement, clearly frustrated by the Alward government continuing with shale gas development despite strong opposition.
Several members of the Opposition Liberals were on the Legislature lawn talking to protesters, including leader Victor Boudreau, (in picture left), former Natural Resources Minister Donald Arsenault, Denis Landry, Roger Melanson, Bertrand LeBlanc, Bill Fraser and Bernard LeBlanc.
It was overheard at the gathering today that Angie Leonard of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, a lobby group for the shale gas industry in New Brunswick, has been calling some in the Liberal Opposition to influence the party's position on shale gas. However, that has yet to be confirmed.
As the protest wound its way over the downtown sidewalks, several in the public paused to watch and motorists honked their horns in support. Demonstrators moved along behind a large banner shouting slogans and carrying placards.
Coming to rest at City Hall, the group continued it's chant of "No shale gas!" but no one from City Hall came out to talk to them or listen to their concerns.
A Fredericton City Police officer, however, seemed sympathetic to the cause and slipped a CD about shale gas into his pocket from a protester.
Many present at the protest and march today wore blue ribbons the movement has come to adopt to symbolize the importance of saving the planet's water from industrial pollution and waste. In the days ahead, the movement will be promoting its campaign.