• PROPOSAL: Community-organized 'All Candidates Meetings'

    in ridings around the province prior to the election


    Proposal from: Council of Canadians – Fredericton Chapter


    To: All NBEN member and associate groups and all interested individuals

    We are asking groups and individuals to host all-candidates meetings in their ridings. This is easy to do!

    Citizen engagement is the key to these meetings, where the citizens in the audience ask the questions. The public meetings provide constituents with an opportunity to publicly ask questions of their MLA candidates on issues which concern them. These meetings will be citizen-led and non-partisan.

    These meetings are extremely easy to organize. We simply need an individual, a community group, or a union to book a venue in their riding for the first week of September.  Invitations would then be delivered or e-mailed to all the candidates [see sample letter below that was used in Fredericton South] at least two to three [2-3] months in advance of the meeting.

    For the meeting, only one moderator is necessary to introduce the candidates, and also to keep track of the time limit that candidates have to answer each question from the audience. A donation jar can be circulated at the meeting to pay for the cost of the venue plus advertising posters.

    Here is the simple outline of the meeting:

    • At the start of the meeting each candidate will have 3 minutes to introduce himself/herself to the audience.

    • Following these introductions, the main portion of the meeting will give an opportunity for constituents to ask questions directly from the floor.

    • After each question, each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond.

    • At the end of the meeting, each candidate will have 2 minutes to address the public with closing remarks.


    The best time for the meeting in each riding would be the 1st week in September, after people return from vacation, and before the advance polling starts. According to the Elections New Brunswick website - FAQ Information, it says that "The first advance polling day is 9 days prior to the election. The second advance polling day is the Monday, 7 days prior to the election." This means that the advance polling for the Sept. 22nd election will start sometime in the 2nd week of September.


    Where possible, we would like to have All Candidates meetings broadcast live [live streamed] on the Internet. Each meeting would be saved and archived on YouTube for future viewing, to allow as many people as possible an opportunity to view proceedings and hear the candidates’ positions on the issues.


    SAMPLE INVITATION ONLY


    April 30, 2014 

                                                                               

    To [MLA Candidates in Fredericton South]:



    RE:  INVITATION TO ‘MEET THE CANDIDATES Q&A’, THURSDAY, SEPT. 04, 2014


    As citizen organizers of the Voice Of The People tour, we are pleased to offer a valuable opportunity for all candidates in the upcoming provincial election to engage and interact with their constituents.  Meet the Candidates Q&A town hall meetings will be organized for a number of ridings around New Brunswick, where candidates from each political party will have the opportunity to present their positions prior to the elections.  These citizen-led meetings will be non-partisan and described as a “Meet the Candidates Q&A – A Town Hall Meeting”.


    For Fredericton South, the Meet the Candidates Q&A will be held on September 4, 2014 at Christ Church Memorial Hall, 168 Church Street from 7:00-9:00 pm.  This event will be well advertised in advance as a chance for the public to clarify each candidate’s perspective on a variety of issues, to better inform their decision later that month in the provincial election.


    This is a formal invitation for you, as the announced candidates for Fredericton South, to attend and participate in this debate.  Invitations will go out to all other candidates for Fredericton South when they are announced.


    At the start of the meeting each candidate will have 3 minutes to introduce himself/herself to the audience.  Following these introductions, the main portion of the meeting will give an opportunity for constituents to ask questions directly from the floor.  After each question, each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond.  At the end of the meeting, each candidate will have 2 minutes to address the public with closing remarks.


    All candidates are asked to confirm attendance at this event by May 15, 2014 by sending a reply to[Email Address].  We trust that you will appreciate the generous lead time to prepare for this event.



    Respectfully,

    ____________

    Fredericton NB
    Member Council of Canadians-Fredericton Chapter
    Constituent Fredericton South


    Print friendly version - English
    http://nben.ca/en/get-involved/action-alerts/item/download/122_f8d61ef9633b7f24ad5518d665827564


    Print friendly version - French

    http://nben.ca/en/get-involved/action-alerts/item/download/123_d89eb9485acb1b42501e2d9b3eceebd6


  • For countless generations, people in New Brunswick have cherished the wildlife and beauty of their natural surroundings. We have adopted many deeply rooted outdoor traditions that take us to the rivers, lakes, wetlands, forests, and coastlines of our beautiful province in all seasons of the year. Help protect the wild places that you love so that your family, children, and grandchildren will be able to enjoy them forever.

    Over 95% of New Brunswick is currently unprotected and open to exploitation that could harm wildlife and damage the natural beauty of our province, and we need to act now to change that.
  • 1) DOWNLOAD this Quiz with 6 questions for your political candidates, to test and mark them on their knowledge of the #StopSprayingNB campaign and the issue:

    QUIZ: SSNB’s Questions for Political Candidates 2018 and Quiz Marking tool
    (version française ici)

    2) Purchase: an Election Sign Topper ($7) for your existing SSNB sign, or buy a SIGN & Topper ($15) to place on your property so that political candidates and other voters are reminded about this campaign that is supported by a hand written petition drive with 35,000 signatories but was ignored by NB Govt.

    Payment: email caroline@stopsprayingnb.ca to make payment and pick up arrangements. We have sign-selling volunteers all over NB!

    For more information, check out www.stopsprayingnb.ca

    IMG 6809
  • JIM EMBERGER COMMENTARY

    July 24, 2018  Telegraph Journal, Daily Gleaner, Times Transcript

    It was gratifying to see a recent article acknowledging that climate change has already changed our weather, and that weather-related problems will become ever more frequent and severe (“Not... our grandparents’ weather, July 14, A2).

    In the piece, a senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, David Phillips, laid out in no-nonsense terms that New Brunswickers will be challenged to adapt to our increasingly confused climate.

    Warnings and good advice about adapting are a necessary discussion, but the real conversation we need to be having on climate change is about preventing the growing threats from a changed climate.

    It’s not as if there is some mysterious force wrecking the climate, with nothing we can do besides learning to live with it. Rather, it is undeniable that the climate-change culprit is our burning of fossil fuels, and the way to slow climate damage is to simply burn fewer of them.

    This elementary and obvious policy solution, however, seems impossible for some to publicly acknowledge. Perhaps, that’s because once you acknowledge a fact, then you must act on that knowledge even if it is uncomfortable.

    Mr. Phillips could have painted an even darker picture. Numerous studies show the climate is changing faster than originally thought and will result in an even hotter world. This past month’s global heat wave shattered temperature records worldwide, often by double digits. Fifty-four people died in Quebec as a result of the heat wave.

    It’s a foreshadowing that should focus our minds, much like the record-breaking floods in New Brunswick. Adaptation to such catastrophes will certainly be necessary, but there are limits to adaptation, especially if conditions continually get worse.

    How many times can you raise the height of a dike, seawall or house on stilts? For trees destroyed by tropical storms, ice storms, warmer temperatures and an ever-growing list of invasive species, it’s too late to adapt.

    And when it’s too hot to work (or even exist) outdoors, adaptation has reached its end, as it is already has in some places. The only long-term solution is to keep conditions from getting worse, and that means reducing our use of fossil fuels.

    Recently, I asked Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs how his plans to lift the moratorium on fracking and promote a shale gas industry fit into plans to combat climate change. It was actually a trick question, because there is only one answer: To slow climate change we cannot exploit any new fossil fuels, and we must leave much of what we have already discovered in the ground.

    This reality now drives global economic trends, which cast doubt on the wisdom of any new fossil fuel investments.

    New studies predict that the plunging cost of renewable energy, advances in battery storage, electric vehicles and energy-efficiency measures will reduce the demand for fossil fuels so significantly that $1 trillion dollars of fossil fuel infrastructure will become worthless by 2035.

    If governments act to reduce emissions as well, the losses grow to $4 trillion dollars and the timetable is shortened by years.

    The U.S. and Canada would be the biggest losers in this scenario because they produce the most expensive fossil fuels – fracked oil and gas, and oil sands. New Brunswick is fortunate to not have much existing unconventional fossil fuel infrastructure at risk.

    But the Atlantica Centre for Energy and Encana claim that now is the time to build a shale gas infrastructure, because current supplies from Nova Scotia will soon run out, leaving 8,600 buildings without gas.

    The obvious rebuttal to this argument is to simply buy gas from elsewhere. But an even better answer is that most gas customers can switch to cleaner sources of energy, which they will eventually have to do anyway. The government and NB Power could even assist in their transition, as part of climate, innovation and energy-efficiency programs.

    In any case, New Brunswick has 319,773 private dwellings and 30,164 businesses. Simple math shows that 8,600 gas-using buildings make up only two per cent of the total. This hardly makes a case for undertaking the huge financial, health and environmental risks of building a new shale gas industry.

    Ireland and Scotland also have fracking moratoriums. Ireland just decided to disinvest all government funds from fossil fuel projects, and Scotland is debating whether to even accept fracked gas from other countries.

    Canada, however, remains among the world’s top three contributors to climate change on a per person basis, due to the high greenhouse gas emissions of our unconventional fossil fuel industries.

    Surely, our New Brunswick moratorium makes the moral statement that “we” at least won’t make things worse for our children, the world and ourselves.

    Keeping the moratorium not only protects us from fracking’s many threats to our health and the environment. It also helps slow climate change, and keeps us from making an unnecessary and seriously self-destructive fiscal decision.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NoShaleGasNB.ca).
  • JIM EMBERGER   COMMENTARY
    Telegraph Journal  June 14, 2018

    Last winter the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance asked the provincial party leaders for their views on energy, climate change and the fracking moratorium. Each party, except the Progressive Conservatives, responded.

    Additional requests to PC leader Blaine Higgs for evidence to justify his plans to lift the moratorium, and to explain the process for lifting it, have gone unanswered.

    Fortunately, Mr. Higgs was the first speaker in the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s series featuring party leaders last week, so I went there seeking some answers.

    I began my question by noting that all of the other Maritime provinces, states like New York, and many European nations had passed moratoriums after conducting in-depth expert examinations.

    Additionally, over a thousand scientific studies and investigations have now validated fracking’s threats of water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes and especially threats to public health, including serious harm to infants and children.

    I asked if he had evidence to contradict these scientific studies, and by what process would he publicly explain why we should lift our moratorium and accept serious risks?

    Echoing stale talking points from eight years ago, he first responded by saying that for every study saying fracking is bad, there is another study that says the opposite.

    This is simply, and provably, false.

    Ask yourself, if there were a thousand studies saying fracking posed no threat to public health, the environment or clean water, wouldn’t we have heard about them by now, with heavy promotion from the gas industry?

    Mr. Higgs then predictably moved to the classic misleading statement that there are many places that have been fracking“safely and responsibly”for 50 years.

    Anyone familiar with this topic knows that what we now call fracking is only roughly 15 years old. In the last few years, there has been a drastic increase in the amounts of water, sand, toxic chemicals and wastewater it involves.

    As for fracking“safely and responsibly,” what do those words mean when applied to those jurisdictions that unquestioningly welcomed fracking?

    The British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission identified significant methane leaks from hundreds of gas wells, but withheld that information from politicians and citizens for four years.

    The B.C. government didn’t tell the public that frackers had built 92 illegal and uninspected dams to sequester water, threatening people living downstream and local ecosystems.

    So many sizeable earthquakes have been caused by fracking in B.C. that fracking can’t be done within five km of critical infrastructure.

    For 12 years, Pennsylvania regulatory officials hid 9,442 Citizen-Reported Fracking Complaints, 44 per cent of which concerned water contamination.

    Canada’s tens of thousands of abandoned gas and oil wells will eventually reach hundreds of thousands. Natural Resources Canada describes methane leakage from abandoned wells as risking “irreversible contamination of freshwater aquifers, accumulation of explosive gases within and around residences... and contribution to greenhouse gases.” 

    The former chief environmental scientist with the Alberta energy regulator stated, “The expertise to assess the health risk of abandoned wells really doesn’t exist in-house.”

    A life-threatening gas, hydrogen sulphide (H2S), often accompanies shale gas. A Saskatchewan investigation into incidents involving releases of H2S found “repeated and continuing serious infractions, a string of failed safety audits, and H2S readings that exceeded air quality standards on a daily basis.”

    These few examples illustrate that neither the government nor the industry has operated in a safe or responsible manner, even in these “best regulated”jurisdictions.

    As to the process for lifting the moratorium, Mr. Higgs offered to“talk”to municipalities that want shale gas.

    His earlier, opening remarks reflected his concern that the recent flood damage was becoming the “new normal.”

    Using this reference to climate change, we noted that New Brunswick and the world have experienced increasing numbers of very costly natural disasters, for which climate change is at least partially responsible.

    Natural gas, once considered a way to transition from other fossil fuels, is now known as one of the largest and fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases, due to methane leaking from gas infrastructure. Some analyses consider it worse than coal.

    “How then,” we asked, “does opening a new shale gas industry fit into plans to fight climate change?”

    After spending a great deal of time discussing the unrelated issue of carbon taxes, Mr. Higgs said there is a risk in everything, and that we have to strike a balance.

    Like editorial writers who worry about climate change damage, but then call for fossil-fuel projects, Mr. Higgs must believe we can bargain with the laws of physics to allow us to burn more fossil fuels, yet somehow not contribute to climate change.

    Alas, we still don’t know whether the PC’s actually have any cogent energy or climate policies, or even good reasons for lifting the fracking moratorium. They seem unaware of scientific risk analyses.

    That’s a problem for a party running on a platform of “responsible leadership.” Responsible leaders should not be so out of touch with the great issues of our time.

    Jim Emberger
    is a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
  • Tories are incoherent on 'regional social licence'

    Jim Emberger,Commentary, Telegraph Journal   September 13, 2018

    The freshly released Progressive Conservatives platform contains only a single sentence on shale gas, and leaves "regional social license" – mooted by leader Blaine Higgs in April – entirely unexplained.

    Even without adequate detail in the platform, the very concept is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.

    The shale gas moratorium’s first condition sensibly dictates that, before social license can be granted, citizens must receive “clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water.”

    As I have documented in previous articles, the “clear and credible evidence” from science and public health studies, court cases, journalistic investigations and government regulatory actions reveal shale gas impacts including:
    • A host of serious diseases affecting those living near gas wells, and especially the unborn. 
    • Water contamination from every aspect of industry activity.
    • Leaking methane from gas infrastructure, making it a leading contributor to climate change.
    • Toxic wastewater created by fracking, with no safe way of disposal.
    • Universally inadequate regulations and oversight, plus the precarious financial state of the industry, means that these threats continue unabated.
    As the Progressive Conservatives haven’t provided the public with any credible evidence that these risks have been addressed, how can they ask anyone for social license?

    Meanwhile, extensive government reviews of shale gas elsewhere have almost unanimously led to bans or moratoriums. These include Quebec, Canada’s Maritime Provinces, 19 of the 25 countries of the European Union, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and several U.S. and Australian states. Mexico, a major fossil fuel producer, is banning fracking.

    In many U.S. states that launched the shale industry before conducting public reviews, hundreds of cities and counties have passed resolutions restricting fracking.

    Before New Brunswick's last election, over 70 municipalities and dozens of medical, public health, religious, community, environmental and indigenous groups called for a moratorium – including Mr. Higgs’ community of Quispamsis.

    The PCs apparently are aware of this widespread public opposition, and attempt to sidestep it by claiming that fracking will be limited to Sussex and Albert County, because those localities want it.

    Yet the municipality of Sussex Corner supported the moratorium, as did citizen groups in the nearby agricultural area of Cornhill, and in Penobsquis, where existing gas wells are located.

    In Albert County, the municipalities of Hillsborough and Alma supported the moratorium, as did the neighboring city of Moncton. Citizen groups – e.g. the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County, and the Chepoudy Communities Revitalization Committee – have reaffirmed their support for the moratorium.

    So who will grant "social license," and how is "regional" defined? The PC platform contains nary a clue.

    Do businessmen reaping financial benefits, but living away from the wells, get the same vote as pregnant mothers living next to gas wells, who – willingly or not – will assume greater health risks?

    Airborne chemical pollution affects those with asthma and respiratory problems up to hundreds of kilometres away. Likewise, waterborne contaminants can travel the length of whatever waterways they enter. How far downstream and downwind is the regional line drawn for health and environmental risks? 

    Increased health care and road repair costs have been documented everywhere a shale gas industry exists, as have the costs of dealing with abandoned wells. These financial risks and costs will be borne by all the taxpayers of New Brunswick.

    Leaking methane gas damages the climate for everyone.

    These widespread risks to health and environment from fracking have been proven. Living on one side of some arbitrary regional line doesn’t grant the right to accept those risks for everyone.

    The ethics of medical research require that every individual give their informed consent to be a ‘guinea pig’ before being exposed to toxic, carcinogenic or untested chemicals. Fracking, which uses hundreds of such chemicals, is a massive uncontrolled experiment and should require no less a standard.

    And yet, the PCs are running with the slogan that they will restore trust. 

    Mr. Higgs recently wrote a commentary in this newspaper on his plans to fight climate change ("A carbon plan, not a carbon tax," Aug. 18, A11). It did not once mention his policy on shale gas. Does he know the gas industry is a major contributor to climate change?

    Also unaddressed is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The rapid depletion of shale gas wells means the industry must continually drill new wells. Thus, a "regional" industry won’t stay regional for long. 

    The PCs have not discussed these concerns, or any of the risks catalogued above. Their platform does not even contain the words "shale," "fracking," or "moratorium." Doesn’t the path to trust demand a demonstration that one understands and can discuss the concerns now, before the election?

    If facts don’t support a policy, the policy must change. Not discussing the facts won’t build trust.

    Canada’s Dr. John Cherry, one of the world’s foremost experts on groundwater contamination, testified before our Commission on Hydrofracturing, noting, “It is hard to make the case for social license if you have no scientific proof of safety.” These are words the PCs, and indeed all New Brunswickers, need to heed.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
 © 2018 NBEN / RENB