Elsipogtog protesters have had an ongoing blockade outside of Rexton to halt seismic testing and shale gas exploration. The RCMP had been ordered into the area Thursday morning to enforce a court injunction to remove the blockade.
A small army in full military gear, including snipers, crept up on the encampment at dawn and events quickly turned ugly. This peaceful display of people protecting their land became a spectacle of police state oppression worthy of any Banana Republic dictatorship.
The encampment included elders and children, and it’s a miracle no one was seriously injured or killed in the ensuing chaos as shots were fired, vehicles were set on fire and people were gassed and struck with rubber bullets fired by the RCMP.
Pictures and videos of the debacle were quickly posted on social media, alerting people to the unfolding horror of what was happening, and First Nations throughout the province rapidly mobilized and organized local demonstrations in support of the Elsipogtog encampment.
Tobique First Nation quickly gathered local activists, and had blockades erected on the Trans-Canada Highway by 2:30 pm on Thursday.
Transports became backed up for several kilometres on both sides of the highway, but cars were permitted to pass, with many people honking their horns and giving a thumbs up sign in support of the demonstration as they drove past.
In the days following the raid, many more extremely troubling details have come to light which have been revealed on social media sites and in alternative news sources.
This unprovoked attack on the Elsipogtog encampment has gone viral on the internet, and has been reported in newspapers abroad.
It has galvanized anti-fracking groups all over Canada and the world. Instead of crushing the anti-fracking movement, the violence of the raid has brought even more public awareness to the fracking issue.
Shale gas is not a source of “cheap and abundant” energy. This is a myth that has been driven by speculation and industry over-estimates of production and profits.
Fracking permanently contaminates and poisons our finite supply of fresh water, the land we live on and the very air we breathe.
According to current online polls, the citizens of New Brunswick are opposed to shale gas extraction in our province by a margin of 2 to 1. That is, there are twice as many people in New Brunswick who are adamantly opposed to fracking as there are supporters.
Why isn’t the government listening to the people? Why aren’t we exploring alternative energy technology?
There is a growing tendency to perceive people who are exercising their fundamental right to speak and protest publicly as a threat requiring a forceful response. We may like to imagine that this kind of stuff only occurs in foreign lands that are ruled by tin pot dictators, but, as we have just seen, it is happening in our own back yard.
When our provincial government authorises a full scale para-military raid, complete with snipers, dogs, incendiary devices and riot gear on a small camp, which included elders, children and women, something is seriously wrong in New Brunswick.