The Canadian Press reports, “Federal New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair says he supports his New Brunswick NDP counterpart’s position on shale gas development. Mulcair joined provincial NDP Leader Dominic Cardy on the campaign trail in Fredericton in the final days before the election Monday.”
The news report says, “Cardy has promised to wait two years before considering development of a shale gas sector, at which point companies wanting to exploit the resource would have to undergo tests to assure health and environmental concerns are satisfied. Cardy has also committed to setting up a royalty rate and putting shale gas development to a free vote.”
In October 2013, Cardy promised more explicitly, “The day a New Democrat government is sworn in, we will issue a ministerial letter, suspending the licenses of the shale gas companies. That would lead to discussions and possible legal proceedings, but the result would be clear: the shale gas companies would have to stop operations, immediately.”
On World Water Day this year, Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui wrote federal NDP leader Mulcair and asked him, “Will you place a ban on fracking to protect the water sources of Canadian and Indigenous communities?”
The NDP responded, “While regulating shale gas is primarily a provincial responsibility, the federal government has a critical role to play in responding to potential environmental concerns stemming from fracking. Recognizing that, in 2010 Parliament unanimously approved a NDP motion calling for an open, public review of relevant federal laws, regulations and policies regarding the development of all unconventional sources of oil and gas.” They also noted, “New Democrats strongly support the mandatory disclosure of fracking fluid components. …We will continue to call on the federal government to thoroughly investigate the risks of shale gas fracking and take appropriate regulatory action to protect our environment.”
Lui replied to Mulcair that this position was “a good first step” but that the NDP should “commit to a ban or at the very least a moratorium on fracking.” It’s therefore good to see Mulcair now supporting at least a two-year moratorium on fracking in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick 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. The New Democrats are without a seat in the legislature.
It is likely that the Liberals under Gallant will form the next government after Monday’s election. A Corporate Research Associates poll conducted between August 19-31 shows the Liberals at 48 per cent, the Progressive Conservatives at 29 per cent, and the New Democrats at 17 per cent.
In a Council of Canadians media release today, we stated, “The Conservative Party staked out the only pro-shale gas position. The New Democrats, Greens, and Liberals have all opposed shale gas and the People’s Alliance call for a referendum on the issue. The Liberals call for a moratorium; the NDP and Greens propose an outright ban.”
It was expected that Houston-based SWN Resources would return to New Brunswick in the summer of 2015 to drill exploratory wells for fracking, but there are now indications that SWN has received approvals for their test wells this fall.