Shale gas protesters around the province are learning what happens when they speak out publicly against something they feel strongly about. They are being flagged, tagged and targeted – by industry, government and the authorities. While the public heat has been turned up on the provincial government’s plan to explore for shale gas around the province, so too has the security in rural communities and their own government condemning protesters as violent criminals.
At planned events, the police and RCMP security has noticeably increased. According to Sgt. Daniel Landry, of the Codiac RCMP, it’s part of operations for the RCMP to cover large demonstrations. Along with accompanying protesters on march routes, the RCMP also record the goings-on during large demonstrations.
Many people have observed private security and investigative firms following protesters at planned events and in their communities. G4S, a large multinational security firm with 25,000 employees across Canada, followed behind the frACTION Moncton March in a marked vehicle. Securitas, a security firm hired by SWN Resources while doing seismic work in many communities have been also monitoring people.
All this has left many rural New Brunswickers feeling like they are being watched, when it is the industry who, they feel, needs closer surveillance.
One couple from Durham Bridge have had numerous encounters with a private security firm and plain-clothed police officer in their community. Joey and Anna Saindon have been followed on their way to work and have had their pictures taken with telephoto lens cameras while going about their daily routines. When they called the RCMP, they found out that Securitas had already filed a complaint against them. They then contacted Securitas directly and voiced their concerns about being watched; once again, Securitas filed a second complaint with the RCMP.
“We went from a community that might see a police cruiser once every couple of months to seeing multiple cruisers passing by our house every half hour or so,” says Joey Saindon. “For a month or so it really felt like our community was being invaded by Southwestern Resources, Geokinetics, Securitas and RCMP, and there was nothing we could do about it”.
Graham Waugh’s family, from Corn Hill, recently received a visit from the RCMP after he sent an email to Corridor Resources, voicing his displeasure with their upcoming seismic testing program proposed for their pastoral community. Corridor Resources reported Waugh and his email to the RCMP. “Dealing with the authorities is a bit unnerving,” says Waugh, “it makes us feel ashamed to speak up, and like you’ve done something wrong. It feels like an intimidation tactic to pressure people into staying quiet about how they feel and what they are going through.”
In some instances, the intimidation has crossed over into personally threatening territory. Derek and Terri Telasco, founders of BanFracking NB, a group dedicated to fighting shale gas plans throughout the province, have been subjected to threats. In a month, the Purple Violet Press, an independent online media source in N.B, received an anonymous email from someone working in the oil and gas service industry. In the email the sender threatens “retaliation” and to “get even” with the Telasco’s for expressing their views on the shale gas industry by turning “their life into a living hell”.
The Telasco’s were given 48 hours to dismantle their website and Facebook group before the sender would act on their threats. They did not, and their website was subsequently hacked. They reported this, the email threats and their research on who the sender may be to the RCMP. The RCMP have yet to follow up on their complaints.
It seems that wherever there is strong opposition to shale gas exploration, there is intimidation. The shale gas opponents have vowed that they will not be deterred.
With files from the Purple Violet Press: thepurplevioletpressnb.blogspot.com