Shale gas protesters and SWN await word on court injunction

LAKETON, N.B. – At the site of Thursday’s shale gas protest in Laketon, the mood was very different among protesters on Friday. People were calm as they camped out along Highway 11, many waiting to hear whether the Elsipogtog First Nation’s request for an injunction to stop SWN Resources from exploring in Mi’kmaq territory would be granted.

The request was filed yesterday against SWN, and New Brunswick’s energy minister and attorney general. The application’s wording suggested that continued shale gas exploration could lead to more violence.

A Fredericton judge announced Friday afternoon that a decision on a possible injunction would be delayed until Monday at 4 p.m.

READ MORE: Global News ongoing coverage of shale gas protests

Louis Jerome doesn’t want to see violence, but he said First Nations people will take their fight outside the Mi’kmaq regions if they have to in order to stop shale gas development in the province.

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“If they go different places, we are going to follow them where they go,” he said.

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Gordon Sprott said yesterday’s shale gas protest was nothing short of disrespectful to St. Margaret’s, his community, which is located just north of Laketon, N.B.

“I don’t think blocking highways and disrupting normal people’s traffic is the way to do it,” he said.

Sprott said the small group of very vocal protesters don’t speak for the entire region.

“I think shale gas exploration is a good thing for the economic values that are necessary to stabilize this province once again.”

He said people have the right to disagree and protest, as long as they do it lawfully. He believes protesters went too far yesterday by blocking the road for about three hours.

Angus St. Pierre, also from St. Margaret’s, said it was SWN Resources that went too far. He said thumper trucks parked on and damaged his neighbor’s property last night.

“While they were loading their trucks onto the flatbeds, they all damaged the pave and this is private property,” he said.

READ MORE: What is shale gas, and why are people protesting against testing for it?

Last month, during a protest in nearby Rexton, 40 people were arrested and weapons seized when the Mounties enforced a court-ordered injunction to end the blockade of a compound where SWN stored exploration equipment and vehicles.

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Protesters have said they’re concerned shale gas exploration poses a threat to the environment, but the province’s Progressive Conservative government is banking on a shale gas industry to create much-needed jobs and revenue.

with files from The Canadian Press

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