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Fracking and CETA may be issues in looming Newfoundland election

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Photo: Calypso Orchid/flickr

With a provincial election required in Newfoundland and Labrador within about a year, fracking and a 'free trade' deal with Europe could be increasingly on the political agenda in the province.

The Grand Falls-Windsor Advertiser reports the provincial NDP environment and conservation critic wants a continued moratorium against fracking and says that the investor-state clause of CETA is a concern because it would give energy companies the right to challenge bans and regulations like this. 

St. John's East MHA George Murphy spoke at a public meeting in Stephenville about "how Lone Pine Resources Inc., a U.S. fracking company registered in Delaware, which wants to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement because of Quebec's moratorium on fracking. He said the company is saying this moratorium is violating the oil company's right to frack and it's demanding $250 million in compensation."

"Murphy (also) said the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada would grant energy companies far-reaching rights to challenge bans and regulations of shale gas development, such as fracking."

The article notes, "In early November of 2013 Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley declared a moratorium on fracking in the province. He announced government will not approve fracking onshore and onshore-to-offshore hydraulic fracturing pending further review and government would be doing public consultation before it develops any policy for fracking."

"(Murphy says), 'We want to make sure that if government is going to have that review, that it's going to be an independent review so government can keep their hands off it. ...Also, to make sure it's totally scientific. ...(The government) has not convinced us yet of a valid argument for fracking.'"

The Council of Canadians has also called for a full ban on fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as a comprehensive, independent and unbiased review of it in the province.

On January 22, Kathy Dunderdale resigned as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Toronto Star reports, "Under provincial law, Dunderdale's resignation triggers an election earlier than the scheduled date of Oct. 13, 2015. An election must now be held within a year of the new full-time party leader taking office as premier." It is expected that a leadership convention will happen this spring, meaning an election is likely to take place by the spring of 2015 or sooner. Currently in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, the Progressive Conservatives have 34 seats, the Liberals 9, the NDP 3, and there are 2 Independents.

Photo: Calypso Orchid/flickr

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