Heavy RCMP presence accompanies SWN's return

A heavy RCMP presence is in an area Tuesday where a Houston-based energy company is expected to resume its controversial shale gas exploration.

(RCMP officers on the scene were a small camp has sprung along Hwy 11 where SWN Resources Canada is preparing to resume shale gas exploration work. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Clair)

APTN National News
LAKETON,NB–A heavy RCMP presence is in an area Tuesday where a Houston-based energy company is expected to resume its controversial shale gas exploration.

About 30 people from Elsipogtog and their supporters have set up a camp near Hwy 11 by Laketon, NB., where SWN Resources is expected to begin laying down geophones in preparation for seismic testing set for Wednesday.

The exploration area is about 46 kilometres north of Elsipogtog First Nation.

Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi said the RCMP presence may be larger than what was witnessed during the Oct. 17 raid of an anti-fracking camp that was blocking SWN’s vehicles in a compound owned by JD Irving Ltd.

“You never know what they are going to do,” said Levi. “They might be shooting their real guns this time, that is what I am worried about.”

Levi said he’s been getting calls and texts all morning from an RCMP liaison officer trying to speak to him.

“I don’t feel like to talking to them right now,” said Levi.

RCMP Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is monitoring the situation.

“Based on things that have happened previously, it would be irresponsible for us not to be in the area,” said Rogers-Marsh.

Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP is not there to protect SWN.

“We are not private security,” she said. “We have no issues as far as protesting, everybody has a right to do it as long as they do it peacefully and don’t break the law.”

SWN referred calls to communications firm Cape Consulting. Calls to senior consultant Tracey Stephenson went to voice mail.

About a dozen Mi’kmaq Warriors camped out overnight along Hwy 11. The group was joined by reinforcements on Tuesday morning and people there gathered around a small fire keeping warm.

“Geophones are all set on the road, SWN is working really fast and the trucks and driving back and forth,” one of the people at the site told APTN National News.

SWN’s lawyer Michael Connors, who is a partner with East Coast law firm McInnes Cooper, met with several dozen people from the Elsipogtog First Nation and the surrounding communities late Sunday afternoon.

Connors told the people that SWN would withdraw a lawsuit against several community members if the Houston-based firm was allowed to finish its exploration work unimpeded.

The meeting was held at a longhouse erected at an anti-fracking encampment used over the past summer. The area sits off Hwy 116 near Elsipogtog First Nation.

Connors told the people in the longhouse that SWN would be working for 14 days and warned them not to block the company’s movements or they would face violence.

“I’m not asking anyone not to protest, but I am asking that we don’t do anything that would lead to violence,” said Connors, according to video of the meeting posted on Facebook by Brian Milliea. “Unfortunately, blockades lead to violence.”

Connors said SWN just wants to finish its work and leave the area.

“We don’t want violence and if we can get through two weeks then we will go away for awhile,” said Connors. “I am not saying we are not going to come back, we may not come back, but I think everybody needs some time, you know a break.”

Levi told Connors that the community would not be backing down.

“We are going to be there. Whatever happens, the ball is in your court. Whatever happens, you’re the ones who are going to make the calls,” said Levi, according to the nine minute video. “Us as Natives and the protectors of this land, we are going to protect it, it is our land, we never ceded this land and we are going to protect it before these waters are contaminated.”

A woman in the crowd, who identified as non-Native, also pledged opposition to the exploration.

“As non-Natives we are going to protect the future of our children,” said the woman, in the video. “So non-Natives and Natives are together.”

SWN has faced intense and prolonged opposition to its shale gas exploration work around Elsipogtog First Nation which exploded after heavily armed RCMP tactical units raided an anti-fracking camp along Route 134 on Oct. 17.

While the raid freed SWN’s trucks, it sparked day-long clashes between Elsipogtog residents and the RCMP. Several RCMP vehicles were torched and about 40 people were arrested.

A camp still remains on Route 134, which sits about 15 km southeast of Elsipogtog.

People in Elsipogtog and surrounding communities fear the discovery of shale gas would lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The controversial extraction method is viewed by many as posing a dire threat to water sources.

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8 thoughts on “Heavy RCMP presence accompanies SWN's return

  1. Hey, how about you people at the National Post act like responsible journalists and state facts as facts for a change. For example, when you say “The controversial extraction method is viewed by many as posing a dire threat to water sources.” you create the false impression that these people just ‘view’ it that way, you don’t make reference to the science that these people have read that shows this, or reference the experiences of other people living near fracturing wells that these people might be aware of. You’re conveying the idea that it’s an opinion, when you know that it’s a fact, which is the same as lying, and when you lie about something that makes people sick and causes people to die of cancer, etc., it makes you an accomplice to a crime, and eventually you will be held accountable.

  2. As expected at every protest and riot, the rcmp or swat team are there. I get a kick out of how surprised and enraged the Natives are for thinking rcmp would dare come out and try to stop it, well maintain the situation. Its part of there job. Just be thankful they didn’t bring out the big guys like they did when the Quebec students protested, even got shot at and pepper sprayed.

  3. The reality is that the human species is fighting for its very life. The oil Cartels are putting profit before human beings. The accelerating destruction of our environment is leading to our extinction.

  4. The problem lies with the NB conservative governments encouragement of this “exploration”. They can’t solve our deficit issues in a creative and ingenious way, so this is the result. Opposition to fracking is growing- I am voting this next election based on this issue alone. I plan to visit and support the protesters again. I am non native and don’t see this as a Native issue at all. Except that the Native people are leading the charge and deserve all the credit.

  5. Is the part of the report regarding SWN’s spokesperson Connors accurate? This report seems to suggest that SWN, through Connors, threatened violence against First Nations and other protesters: “I’m not asking you not to protest, but I am asking that we don’t do anything that would lead to violence. Unfortunately, blockades lead to violence.”

    Blockades don’t have to lead to violence. The act of blockading itself is not a violent act. Only when the blockade is challenged by those who seek to impose their power upon those occupying the blockade – that’s when violence starts. Think about the cordon sanitaire that the U.S. placed around Cuba during the Cuban Missile crisis. Would connors suggest that the naval blockade of Cuba led to violence? Seems to me that it didn’t – because the Soviets didn’t challenge. That’s an historical example of how blockades do not have to lead to violence. Which leaves me perplexed by Connors statement – if what’s reported is accurate, it seems to me that it can only be interpreted as a threat to violence.

    And that would be astounding. APTN, are you sure you’ve reported what Connor said correctly?

  6. RCMP reduced to working as security goons for foreign corporate polluting molesters in HarperLand.

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