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Fracking a key issue in the Sept. 22 election in New Brunswick

One month from today, a provincial election will take place in New Brunswick.

Today, the CBC reported, “As the campaign unfolds, there is likely to be much talk on the trail about the natural resources, particularly shale gas and forestry.”

The province is currently governed by Progressive Conservative Premier David Alward (his party holds 41 seats in the 55 seat Legislature), while the Liberals under Brian Gallant have 13 seats. Dominic Cardy and the New Democrats are without a seat.

It is clear that Premier Alward supports fracking and sees it as part of his economic strategy for the province. Liberal leader Gallant has promised a moratorium on fracking and development, though he has not been specific about how long that moratorium would be in place. NDP leader Cardy is also opposed to fracking and has said that he would issue a ministerial letter suspending the licenses of fracking companies should his party form the government. The Green Party also supports an immediate halt to shale gas development in the province.

A Corporate Research Associate poll in June put the party standings at:

  • Liberals – 53 per cent

  • Conservatives – 28 per cent

  • NDP – 16 per cent

  • Green Party – 3 per cent

With a 25 point lead in the polls, it’s worth noting what the likely next premier of the province has to say about fracking. Gallant says, “Their [the Alward government’s] fixation with fracking is concerning too — they’re putting all their eggs in one basket. Meanwhile, we lack information to fully understand the potential risks fracking poses to our water, environment and health. …We should not blindly take on this risk when there are other options to create jobs.”

If Gallant wins, his new government will be on a deadline to act on this stated commitment. It is expected that Houston-based SWN Resources will return to New Brunswick in the summer of 2015 to drill exploratory wells for fracking.

Further reading
New Brunswick chapters defend the forest