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New Brunswick election a litmus test for the rest of Canada on shale gas

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Photo: Rick Harris, Flickr Media Commons

New Brunswickers head to the polls in what seems to be another PC versus Liberal tête-à-tête this Monday.

But this province's election could also be key to determining Canada's future and the future of fracking. Liberal Premier Shawn Graham's wrong-headed decision to sell off NB Power cost him the last election; this time, PC Premier David Alward will lose from putting all of his eggs in the shale gas fracking basket.

In both cases, the people of New Brunswick rose up and took a stand. In New Brunswick, the Alward government has been industry-friendly to the extreme: giving Crown lands to the Irvings for forestry, helping TransCanada approve the Energy East pipeline, and signalling to shale gas (fracking) companies that New Brunswick is "open for business."

This is not the direction New Brunswickers want their province to go! Just this week, we learned that the Alward government granted SWN Resources environmental permits to build well pads and do test drills in four sites in Kent County... a departing gift to industry?

And the Conservatives did not even bother to respond to a questionnaire to tell us that they were pro-shale gas. Along with allies, we sent a questionnaire to all five provincial parties asking them their vision for the environment and for fracking. Despite three requests, the Conservatives seem to have chosen to not be transparent: they have not participated in any community-organized all-candidates debates either (as is unfortunately the case of many Liberal candidates as well).

This election result will show that people want control of their power and their communities. Sunday's People's Climate March in New York City (with sister events happening across Canada) is another demonstration of people's empowerment. While citizens are yelling at the top of our lungs that we need action on climate change, politicians don't seem to be listening anymore. If you ask the community they will say yes to jobs but no to more fossil fuels. It is a false dichotomy and there is another way forward.

As many of us prepare for a march on climate change, our friends in Kent County are sounding the alarm in order to protect their water and their communities. For those of us outside of New Brunswick, we will be watching the outcome of this election. Let's hope that this election New Brunswick leads the way on climate change.

For more information on our questionnaire, and the full results: http://www.canadians.org/media/new-brunswickers-get-ready-vote-council-canadians-releases-party-positions-shale-gas

Here is the summary of the responses.

The full responses along with the letter sent to the parties:

Photo: Rick Harris, Flickr Media Commons

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