Violent shale gas protests in New Brunswick threaten to hit rest of Canada

Canada’s Eastern provinces are up in arms against shale gas development in the eastern New Brunswick community of Rexton, where the RCMP arrested at least 40 people after a demonstration turned violent Thursday evening.

The Mounties say the detentions were made after protesters began throwing Molotov cocktails at officers and police vehicles were set on fire because police began enforcing an injunction to end a weeks-long demonstration.

A wave of pacific protests hit the country after the incident, reports CBC.ca, in support of the First Nations community. They had been demanding that SWN Resources, the company at the centre of the conflict, stops all shale gas seismic testing in the area.

In Ottawa, supporters marched to Parliament Hill as a way of backing the native protesters in New Brunswick.

In Winnipeg, about 50 people staged a march during rush hour, causing traffic congestion.

So far, no other violent outburst has been reported, but more demonstrations across the country are expected today.

Speaking in Halifax at a roundtable discussion on cyberbulling Friday, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said he was briefed early this morning on the incidents near Rexton, NB.

He called for calm and the resumption of talks between the parties.

Those arrested on Thursday showed up in court this morning, where they were told they face charges of violating a court-ordered injunction, as well as firearms offences, uttering threats, and mischief.

Shale gas has quickly emerged as a low-cost alternative to natural gas. With the goal of reducing carbon into the atmosphere, it is quickly becoming a “cleaner” alternative to other forms of energy.

Opponents, however, don’t believe that is really the case, as shale gas is extracted using a process called fracking, which is said to pollute water reservoirs and be a likely cause of seismic waves.

Image: Screen grab from YouTube