“Poison is Poison!” “Arrogant, Selfish” NB Tory Energy Minister Mike Holland Propagandizes, Calls Frac’ing ‘Responsible’

Energy minister says ‘responsible’ fracking will help transition to green economy, Political Panel discusses possibility of shale gas development in Sussex by CBC News with files from Jacques Poitras, Information Morning and the CBC New Brunswick Political Podcast, Jun 14, 2019

A few comments to the article (the comments are better than the article, thus why copied at the top)

Andy Davis 3 hours ago Responsible fracking!!!!!!!
Sounds like some made up boondoggle by the harpersheer entity and his merry stooges. There is no responsible fracking that exists. Only money to the conservative corporate masters matter.
Another province that’s going to try and pull a Duh-gy on it’s citizens.
You were warned of the consequences of voting in a conservative government. Now you will find out the hard way!!
See Ontario and alberta for references.
Bunch of clowns that only want $$$ for their buddies

Vote ABC in the future

Geoffrey May 3 hours ago
injecting chemicals and water under pressure , causes the joints to open in unpredictable ways. An industrial activity that produces unpredictable outcomes, can’t be safely regulated .

Geoffrey May 3 hours ago
no company has ever made a profit from the production and sale of fracked gas or oil . Companies that lose money from their core activity don’t contribute to the economy , they drain it .

Dallas Mcquarrie 4 hours ago
“Responsible fracking” is an oxymoron! How does one “responsibly’ pollute fresh water sources, damage the health of anyone in the area (the very young and the elderly are particularly vulnerable), and make worsen climate change? Our Energy Minister apparently hasn’t had the energy to check out the scientific (ie-peer reviewed) studies on shale gas. To date, more than a thousands studies have documented the horrific damage fracking does – NOT ONE study says its safe. Saying responsible fracking will transition the economy reminds one of a famous general in Vietnam who said ‘it was necessary to destroy the village to save it.’ If Holland wants us to take his talk seriously, why hasn’t he produced any peer-reviewed scientific studies to prove fracking is safe? Why isn’t the media demanding to see such studies? Shame on Holland, and shame on the media for not demanding answers.

Cathie Reid 5 hours ago
Wait…what??? Shale gas fracking where 80% of the massive freshwater withdrawals that are used in injection do not return to the surface (and are extracted from local hydrological cycle)…and where approx. 30% of the 20% return water is contaminated and is generally treated as hazardous waste…and where the water that stays in the shale can percolate through the shale to contaminate aquifers/ground with contaminants such as radon??? That fracking??? How about considering our future sustainable prosperity and stop looking out for short term private profits (to those who don’t event pay fair taxes back into the local economy that is exploited/contaminated)? Heck no Canada…New Brunswick please vote these short term profit seeker special interests out of office!

Harold Benson 6 hours ago
Responsible fracking. Yes, you will be responsible when the aquifer is poisoned, and a class action would be in order.

Paul Bourgoin 6 hours ago
Mike Holland, New Brunswick’s minister of energy and resource development, said the government is putting steps in place to move forward with lifting the moratorium on shale gas development in a responsible way.

WHAT!!! Who do you represent? When everywhere fracking was done there were negative environmental consequences! Who do you REPRESENT??

June Arnott 8 hours ago
OMG! There is no such thing as responsible fracking! Who are you trying to kid here? Yourself? You are not well informed it seems. Poison is poison, you do not know what will or will not happen, yet you want to take chances with water supplies only because it won’t affect you at all. Arrogant and selfish is what you all are. WATER IS LIFE!!! DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THAT!!!

Pat Chambers-Dalpe 8 hours ago
NO FRACKING WAY….. Higgs has to go.. Leave our beautiful province alone.. Stop destroying NB

Val Harris 9 hours ago
This week just put the nail a little deeper into this government.. First to open up the fracking issue again is totally political suicide then to support the most dumbest bill by the peoples alliance on the motor vehicle stickers is wrong how do you put a back seat to safety I guess Austin doesn’t care about safety for our children… Small parties Small ideas..

Darren J Taylor 9 hours ago
How about not destroying our environment? Private companies in this province already rape and pillage enough of our resources and get rich at our expense! And what are we left with? Clear cuts, floods, polluted lakes and water ways, and we give them tax breaks out the wazoo! Maybe if we looked after our province a little better and developed the tourism side of things, we’d have a viable way out of this ‘poverty’, rather than allowing private business to abuse our lands. Alward lost an election on fracking, seems like Higgs is willing to repeat his mistakes. Smarten up buddy.

Rosco Holt 12 hours ago
Banking on fracking to switch to a green economy. Why does the whole thing seems wrong?

I have talk with some who work in the oil and gas sector and they are overwhelmingly against shale gas. There is no money to be made, no jobs created and the risk the the water table is real. Again it’s all about greed. The company that is fracking won’t be held accountable if anything goes wrong. The province won’t make money of that resources since there is a glut on the market. The gas won’t be used by NBers.

End of selected comments

CBC New Brunswick’s Political Panel discusses the Higgs government’s passing of regulatory changes that will allow shale gas development to resume in the Sussex area.

Listen to the full CBC New Brunswick Political Panel podcast by downloading from the CBC Podcast page or subscribing to the podcast in iTunes.

New Brunswick’s minister of energy and resource development suggested the government’s passing of regulatory changes that would allow a partial lifting of the moratorium on fracking is a “responsible” path toward facilitating a transition to a greener economy.

Mike Holland said the decision is not irresponsible “if it’s going to be done in a way that gets us to where we need to go and it’s part of an overall plan that is solid toward to the reduction of overall emissions.”

The Higgs government quietly passed regulatory changes in May to allow shale gas development to resume in the Sussex area.

Holland said the government is putting steps in place to responsibly lift the moratorium in the area.

“We’re not going to walking into this blindly,” Holland said. “They’re going to follow some industry leading practices in order to get any kind of affirmation to move forward.”

Holland said the government is committed to doing it in “the most responsible way.”

But Green Party Leader David Coon said it’s irresponsible to develop more fossil fuels. He said the transition to a more green economy depends on using green electricity, not fossil fuels.

“Industry leading practices and the development of more fossil fuels is robbing our children of a decent future,” Coon said.

“We already are in a position, because of the amount of damage that’s been done to the atmosphere,” he said. “Handing over a future that we would never really want to put in the hands of our children and this mentality is what’s making it worse.”

Coon said the world is facing a climate emergency, so now is not the time to develop brand new sources of fossil fuels like shale.

“That’s like throwing gasoline onto a burning house,” he said.

Liberal MLA Benoît Bourque agreed with Coon that the government should avoid using fossil fuels. Although Holland wanted to reiterate that the government has not lifted the moratorium yet, Bourque said he feels like it’s been lifted.

“I find this has been politically motivated, has been botched and I understand where they want to go, but I feel the process is not right,” Bourque said. “It’s been rushed.”

Several First Nations leaders across the province have said the Higgs government has made a serious mistake.

Indigenous leaders warn of protests, halting developments over shale gas exemption
Leaders from St. Mary’s, Woodstock, Madawaska, Oromocto, Tobique and Kingsclear have denounced the lifting of the moratorium, calling it “shocking, unacceptable, and unlawful.”

“They need to restore the Moratorium immediately, and they need to have a serious dialogue with Indigenous peoples before taking any more steps in that direction,” said Patricia Bernard, Chief of Madawaska First Nation.

Oil and gas companies are applauding the government’s move to lift the moratorium. Ray Ritcey, CEO of the Maritimes Energy Association, said it’s “a step in the right direction.”

“I think it’s going to take time,” Ritcey said. “I think it’s going to take leadership of the government or governments to see that development occur. But, from my perspective, it would be a great opportunity and I think it should be pursued.”

Firm proposes new wells as New Brunswick muses about end to fracking moratorium Kevin Bissett, Nov 19, 2018, The Canadian Press

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s premier says he wants to forge ahead with plans to lift the province’s fracking moratorium, and will speak this week with a company ramping up its plans for new wells. [Marvelous “community consultation!”]

Corridor Resources currently has 32 producing wells in the Sussex area and operates a 50 kilometre pipeline, a gathering system comprising 15 kilometres of pipe, and a natural gas processing facility.

The company wants to expand but the previous Liberal government imposed a 2014 moratorium that prohibits hydraulic fracturing — a process that involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas.

The new Tory government has proposed lifting the moratorium in specific areas, such as the Sussex region, if there is public support.

On Monday, Premier Blaine Higgs said he planned to speak with Corridor CEO Steve Moran later this week.

“I want to understand the potential. I also want to do presentations with all parties on what we know about shale gas development,” Higgs said.

“We have to do something in New Brunswick. We can’t just say no and expect things to go well, but we can do it right,” he said. [Lie of the century? Or the premier doesn’t read?]

In a corporate presentation, the company says if the moratorium is lifted they would drill five vertical evaluation wells, complete three existing wells, identify “sweet spots,” and drill a second round of up to five horizontal wells.

Moran did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The company says with the impending end of Nova Scotia’s offshore production, natural gas will have to come from outside the Maritimes if the New Brunswick deposit is not further developed.

“We’re going to have a serious increase in gas prices as our resources run out over the next few years. We need to avoid some of these things that we know are coming down the pipe,” Higgs said. [How to consult with communities? Threaten them?]

The Opposition Liberals say want any change to the moratorium to be subject to a vote of the legislature.

When the Liberals imposed the moratorium, they listed five criteria that would have to be met in order to lift the moratorium, including “social licence.”

Higgs said he doesn’t know if that would mean having Sussex-area residents vote on the plan.

“We’re talking about what that might look like. Sussex has been pretty clear,” he said.

“What would concern me is a lot of people from outside coming in and trying to make an issue of this. That’s not going to help our situation. I want to deal with the people that are there, not some people that want to create a disruption from the outside.”

The former Tory government’s decision to embrace the shale gas industry was polarizing — a series of public protests culminated in a violent demonstration in the fall of 2013 in Rexton that saw 40 people arrested and six police vehicles burned.

Higgs said it needs to be clear that he’s not talking about lifting the moratorium anywhere other than the Sussex area.

“This is about developing natural gas within that region. I’ve been very clear on that. It’s not about opening it up anywhere else,” he said. [Once opened up in one part of the province, all parts are at risk, including protected areas]

The issue of fracking has been contentious in many places around the world, with opponents concerned about an impact on ground water and triggering earth tremors.

The only company drilling for shale gas in Britain temporarily suspended fracking last month after a mild earthquake. Cuadrilla said it halted drilling for 18 hours after a tremor was detected at its site in Little Plumpton, northwest England.

The British Geological Survey recorded the 0.8-magnitude quake. It followed several smaller tremors. [And, larger tremors followed after. Canadian corporate media, downplaying frac harm reality, yet again?]

Fracking in Britain had previously been halted after two tremors in the same area led to legal challenges. It resumed on Oct. 15.

Shale gas exploration could get green light by Christmas, says MLA, Progressive Conservative Bruce Northrup says moratorium would be lifted in areas where there is public support by Tori Weldon, CBC News, Nov 06, 2018

Bruce Northrup, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Sussex-Fundy-St Martins, said the PCs will make a move to lift the moratorium on shale gas exploration by Christmas in areas where there is public support.

The controversy over fracking in New Brunswick last came to a head in October 2013, when 40 protesters were arrested and five police cars were burned in Rexton. A temporary moratorium was put in place, then made permanent under Brian Gallant’s Liberal government.

Premier-designate Blaine Higgs has said he is willing to open the debate surrounding the natural resource.

Higgs expects he and his cabinet will be sworn in on Friday, a week after the Liberals were defeated on a confidence vote.

On Tuesday, Northrup, a former minister of natural resources, one-upped Higgs on the shale gas issue by providing a timeline.

“We will have to go through the process through the legislation and I’m hoping we’ll be able to do that before Christmas,” he said.

“We lift the moratorium and be in constant contact with Corridor Resources and look at that in the future and start it as soon as we can, as soon as possible.”

Northrup said his constituents support hydraulic fracking, and there are others in favour as well.

“The Boiestown-Doaktown area, they’ve seen the exploration on their area where the motels were full and the restaurants were full.”

Northrup was quick to add that fracking will only be welcome in communities where there is public support.

But activist and anti-shale gas protester Willi Nolan-Campbell disagrees with Northrup, arguing people in New Brunswick were clear during what she called “the fracking wars” five years ago.

She said people who protested put in the effort to protect the environment and believed fracking was unsafe.

“Does this new minority government have that evidence because all I’m seeing is the case against fracking getting worse and worse as the years go by,” she said.

“Why would they ever bring up fracking in New Brunswick? It’s ridiculous.”

Nolan-Campbell said allowing some communities to frack while others opt out doesn’t make sense. Water is a resource shared by all, she said.

“I don’t see how there could possibly be a place in the province where there’s not going to be somebody downstream or close by that is not interested.”

And if a PC government does lift the ban, Nolan-Campbell said protesters will organize again. This time they’ll be even better at it, she said.

Higgs has said he is open to loosening restrictions imposed by the Liberal government but has not discussed a timeline.

Blaine Higgs set to resurrect debate over shale-gas development, Premier-designate says a PC minority will also focus on softwood lumber agreement, health-care wait times by Elizabeth Fraser with files from Information Morning Fredericton, CBC News, Nov 05, 2018

Premier-designate Blaine Higgs expects his new minority government will start talking about issues that have been avoided lately or seemed settled, including shale gas development.

The Progressive Conservative platform for the election last month called for allowing resource development in areas such as Sussex where there’s public support for it.

Higgs feels this is a compromise approach to shale gas.

“We’re not imposing this on anyone in any region,” Higgs told Information Morning Fredericton.

“But to keep saying no to economic development at a time when we’re going to see in the next year or two the gas prices significantly increase because we’re going to be bringing everything in from the U.S. We just keep saying, ‘No’ and expect we can tax people more.”

New Brunswick is the largest consumer of natural gas in the Maritimes, with more than 8,600 homeowners, businesses and government buildings using the fuel.

Shale gas an election issue
Shale gas was a bigger issue in the 2014 provincial election won by the Liberals under Brian Gallant. His government was defeated in a confidence vote on Friday, almost six weeks after another provincial election.

The Liberals kept a moratorium on shale gas exploration, which had provoked protests by First Nations groups and others, culminating in a violent clash in Rexton in the fall of 2013.

Higgs said his goal was to develop the economy across New Brunswick.

Although he’d rather lead a majority government, he said he’s excited about getting down to work on issues.

“We may not agree on all the solutions and how we get there, but once we know there is an opportunity to fix, we have to find a solution,” he said.

Higgs wins confidence vote, set sights on speedy resumption of fracking, Higgs intends to lift fracking moratorium in Sussex area by Jacques Poitras, CBC News, Nov 30, 2018

Premier Blaine Higgs won a key confidence vote in the legislature Friday and promptly declared that his cabinet could issue an order before the end of the year to allow shale gas development in the Sussex area.

Higgs said because the Liberal opposition injected a reference to shale gas into the government’s throne speech motion, he no longer needs to introduce legislation to create exemptions to the provincial moratorium on fracking.

“My intent was we would come back with legislation,” he told reporters. “They brought it forward as an amendment to the throne speech. We amended it to reflect what I would have brought forward through legislation, that it’s going to be this area.

“So we’ve already identified that. We’ve already voted on that. Right now it’s not my intention to bring anything more forward in that regard.”

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant quickly accused Higgs of going back on his promise to give the legislature more say on cabinet decisions.

“The premier even stated in his speech from the throne that he would share the executive power,” Gallant said.

“So this is his first test, to share executive power on one of the most contentious, hotly debated issues in this province for the last five years, and he failed that test completely.”

On Nov. 21, Higgs said his PC minority government would bring in legislation “in order to move in a regional way, in a very localized way” to create exemptions.

“It does require coming to the legislature, and it does require a vote,” he said.

Earlier this week, however, he said passage of shale-gas language in the throne speech would be a green light to implement his election promise to allow shale gas development in areas where there is local support.

“We just did that,” he said Friday morning. “We just had it.”

The PC throne speech didn’t explicitly mention shale gas fracking, a controversial extraction method that led to polarized debate and protests in the province in 2013. Gallant’s Liberals were elected in 2014 on a promise to impose a moratorium on the process.

Last week Gallant introduced an amendment to the PC throne speech motion calling for the moratorium to stay in place.

The PCs responded with a sub-amendment that would exempt “communities in and around the town of Sussex,” where extraction began in 1999 and where people “have demonstrated their desire to proceed with shale gas development.”

That sub-amendment passed 26-22 Friday morning, with three People’s Alliance MLAs and Saint John Harbour Liberal MLA Gerry Lowe voting with the PCs.

The amendment with that new language also passed 26-22, and the main motion, a confidence vote in the Higgs government, passed 25-23. On the final vote, Lowe voted with the Liberals against the PCs.

Higgs said during his final speech before the vote that the government would “limit the lifting of the moratorium to one location.”

But he also said the communities around Sussex are “asking to go first,” which Gallant called a Freudian slip showing the PCs want to allow fracking in other areas.

Liberal MLA explains vote
Lowe, a first-term Liberal MLA, said he voted in favour of the shale gas sub-amendment because natural gas exports through a converted Canaport LNG terminal in Saint John would boost its property assessment and create more tax revenue for the city.

“I represent Saint John,” he said. “I was sent here by Saint John and that’s the feelings of the people I talked to last weekend.”

He informed his fellow Liberals last week how he would vote “and today nobody gave me the finger,” he said. “They’re still my friends, I guess.”

Gallant has also introduced legislation that would write the moratorium into law. The current statute lets the cabinet create, lift or modify a moratorium with a simple regulatory order.

Gallant’s bill would force the government to come back to the legislature to undo or create exemptions to the moratorium. Lowe said he may vote against that as well.

Alliance MLAs vote with PCs
The Liberal leader said he’s pessimistic about his bill passing because of the three Alliance MLAs opting to vote with the PCs on shale gas.

Last week, Fredericton-York Alliance MLA Rick DeSaulniers vowed to vote against any lifting of the moratorium, including in Sussex. But Friday he said an exemption there is up to that area’s local PC MLA, Bruce Northrup.

“Who am I to tell Sussex what is right for them?” he said. “It’s one thing to have beliefs. It’s another thing to impose them on someone you really shouldn’t impose them on.

“I can’t impose my will on the people of Sussex. I don’t think that’s right. Am I torn? Yeah, I’m torn. I think I’ve done what is right. I’ve done what is right for Fredericton-York and I’ll let Bruce [Northrup] and them do what is right for Sussex.”

Green Party Leader David Coon said Friday that he could have voted for the original PC throne speech motion, but the language allowing exemptions to the fracking moratorium ruled it out.

Cabinet order could come before 2019
Higgs said he would meet with Corridor Resources CEO Steve Moran next week about how to let the company resume fracking its wells. A cabinet order will come “probably in the coming weeks,” he said.

“It could happen before the new year.”

PCs will be making ‘wrong move’ if fracking is allowed outside Sussex without a vote
Earlier this week, Energy and Resource Development Minister Mike Holland promised PCs would “ensure there’s a means and mechanism” to consult people in the Sussex area so they’re “confident we’re speaking with a licence from that area.”

Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance said it’s still not clear how the government will delineate where it will seek consent.

“The idea of defining and then assessing approval is almost an impossible task,” he said.

New lawsuit, protests possible
Emberger said his group would revive a lawsuit against the province that it put on hold when the Liberals imposed their moratorium in early 2015.

Lois Corbett of the New Brunswick Conservation Council said reviving shale gas development will spark new protests and distract from a needed debate on climate change.

“It will, like it did in the last five years, suck all of the air out of the room,” she said.

“We will have a long … debate led by folks on either edge of the issue, pro-fracking, anti-fracking, and we will not take the time to develop the strong, sensible solutions like more renewable energy.”

N.B. Tories survive throne speech vote, plan to amend ban on fracking by Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press, November 30, 2018, Atlantic CTV News

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says his government will change regulations to allow limited shale gas development — and could have it done before the end of the year.

The Tories’ throne speech passed 25-23 in the legislature Friday, a crucial victory on a confidence vote for the minority government.

It included a subamendment that urges government to allow limited natural gas development — if the regulations are changed, the Sussex, N.B., area would be the only location east of Ontario where fracking would be allowed.

Saint John Harbour Liberal MLA Gerry Lowe voted with the Tories and the People’s Alliance parties to support the fracking subamendment, but later voted with his party and the three Green members in opposition of the throne speech.

Lowe said developing natural gas supplies would mean increased activity for the LNG terminal near Saint John.

“If there’s enough gas in Sussex and we can get gas through it and reverse it, then I hope there’s more taxes coming for the city,” he said.

“I told the caucus a week ago what I was going to do and today nobody gave me the finger. So they’re still my friends, I guess,” Lowe said.

Higgs said the vote gives him the ability to amend the province’s fracking moratorium.

“No further vote (needed) at this time, because we had a vote that accepted doing the shale gas fracturing in the region that we’re focused on,” Higgs told reporters.

There was originally no mention of shale gas or fracking in the throne speech, but Higgs said when the Liberals introduced an amendment to maintain a moratorium imposed in 2014, the Tories had to respond with the subamendment — which was passed.

“We amended it to reflect what I would have brought forward in legislation, that it is going to be this area. We’ve already identified that. We already voted on that. Right now it’s not my intention to bring anything more forward in that regard,” Higgs said.

He said cabinet can change the regulations concerning the moratorium, and that could happen before the end of the year.

Opponents have raised concerns that shale gas development in the Sussex area could extend into neighbouring Albert County and possibly affect the city of Moncton’s watershed.

“The air pollution, the water pollution and the climate change gasses that escape from that don’t follow political lines on a map. They are going to go where the air and water goes, and of course climate change affects the whole planet,” said Jim Emberger, spokesman for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.

Higgs said the boundaries have yet to be determined, but it’s one of the items he wants to discuss when he meets with Steve Moran, the president of fracking proponent Corridor Resources, next week.

Contacted in Calgary, Moran issued a brief statement Thursday.

“We are grateful for the support of the government and the legislature for the thoughtful approach to removing the moratorium in respect of hydraulic fracking. We look forward to a constructive and collaborative relationship in the months ahead,” Moran wrote. [Ya, make citizens pay for everything, clean up everything, and suffer the impacts]

Corridor Resources currently has 32 producing wells in the Sussex area and operates a 50 kilometre pipeline, a gathering system comprising 15 kilometres of pipe, and a natural gas processing facility.

In a corporate presentation released this month, the company said if the moratorium is lifted, they would drill five vertical evaluation wells, complete three existing wells, identify “sweet spots,” and drill a second round of up to five horizontal wells.

Environmentalists have raised concerns about fracking for shale gas which involves pumping water and chemicals under pressure deep underground to fracture layers of shale rock and release pockets of gas.

Lois Corbett, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says the government should be looking to end fossil fuel development.

“We need to figure out regionally, community by community, and provincially how to have a safe exit from the fossil fuel era in order to deal with climate change,” she said.

Corbett said despite what the government is saying, she believes the majority of the people in the Sussex area are opposed to shale gas development and fracking.

The Tories took power this month after the Liberals were defeated in the confidence vote on their throne speech following the September election.

New Brunswick’s next premier a fiscal hawk and former Irving Oil exec by Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press, Nov 2, 2018, ipolitics

The man poised to become New Brunswick’s next premier has a well-earned reputation as a tight-fisted fiscal manager whose resume includes 33 years as a senior executive working for one of Canada’s richest families: the Irving clan.

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs, a 64-year-old engineer and former finance minister, was hired by Irving Oil a week after he graduated from the University of New Brunswick. He was eventually promoted to director of distribution, overseeing oil transportation across eastern Canada and New England.

His extensive business experience has informed his approach to politics. Higgs refers to citizens as customers, and his campaign for the Sept. 24 election was replete with references to getting results.

“I came from a company where you had to deliver results to survive,” Higgs said when he released the Progressive Conservative platform.

“(New Brunswickers) are paying the bills but they’re not getting the service.”

Higgs promised to cut government waste and balance the budget in two years — a year earlier than his outgoing rival, Liberal Premier Brian Gallant. And he promised not to raise taxes, while offering a modest spending plan.

“We will set lofty goals and achieve them. We don’t need more taxes, we need results,” Higgs said Friday after Gallant’s government fell on a confidence vote.

“We ran a principled campaign and ran on the belief that New Brunswick needs better service from the political leaders.”

Tom Bateman, a political science professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, says as a former Irving executive, Higgs will face scrutiny when weighing just about any government decision.

“There is an imbalance that would create that perception with any government,” he said. “Mr. Higgs would be well aware of that perception and would want to disabuse people of the idea that he was a cipher for the Irving companies.”

The company is one of the province’s largest employers, with interests in forestry, pulp and paper, transportation, oil refining and distribution, retail, media outlets and shipbuilding. Canadian Business magazine says the privately owned empire was thought to be worth $7.8 billion, making the Irving family the eighth richest in Canada.

“The interactions between public policy and the Irvings are multitudinous,” Bateman said. “It’s a very large and influential group of companies in a province that is very small and short on alternative means of economic development.”

Before the election campaign began, the Liberals took aim at Higgs’ business background, saying he has opposed minimum-wage increases, income tax increases for the richest New Brunswickers and a plan to make tuition free for some post-secondary students.

“He wants to help the wealthy and large corporations,” Gallant said at the time. “And he’s demonstrated that in his voting record as leader of the Opposition.”

The Liberals also produced a series of attack ads, which included the slogan: “Blaine Higgs puts big business first.”

However, no one in the province was surprised when the Liberal cabinet ministers who unveiled the negative ads made a point of not mentioning the Irving brand.

Bad-mouthing the Irvings is bad politics in New Brunswick.

And it’s been that way since Higgs was growing up in Forest City, N.B., near the Canada-U.S. border. The son of a customs officer, he married his high school sweetheart, Marcia, and settled down in Saint John, where they had four daughters: Lindsey, Laura, Sarah and Rachel.

The couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this summer and now have three grandchildren.

First elected to the New Brunswick legislature in 2010 — four months after he retired from Irving — he served as finance minister for four years. He was elected as Tory leader in October 2016.

On the national stage, Higgs isn’t expected to ruffle too many feathers. Unlike Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Higgs is no populist.

“His message isn’t that different from previous premiers,” said J.P. Lewis, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. “He’s more like a traditional Progressive Conservative. He’s like a Harper-era cabinet minister.”

Still, Higgs and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are expected to clash over how to deal with climate change.

Higgs has said he will join with his counterparts in Ontario and Saskatchewan in rejecting Ottawa’s bid to get the provinces to impose a carbon tax on their citizens.

Last month, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said his province would also scrap plans for a carbon tax. As well, Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta’s Opposition, has promised to repeal the province’s carbon tax if his party wins the 2019 spring election.

“Based on (Higgs’) rhetoric, he could become another thorn in the side of Trudeau, especially when it comes to natural resources,” Lewis said.

Higgs also faces a daunting task in turning around the province’s economy, which some economists have said is headed for a “fiscal cliff.” Carrying a $14 billion debt, it could be pushed over the edge if there’s a sharp rise in interest rates or a credit-rating downgrade.

The province has the nation’s lowest median household income, and was the only province that recorded a population decline between 2011 and 2016. As well, its tax base is shrinking and the province has suffered through consecutive deficit budgets.

Economic growth — forecasted by the Conference Board to be about 1.3 per cent this year — is expected to remain sluggish as the province struggles to increase its population.

“We can fix this,” Higgs said before the election campaign. “We have to be straight with each other and talk about real issues, not pretend all is well.”

Irving Pulp and Paper in New Brunswick fined $3.5 million for dumping effluent by Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press, November 5, 2018, Calgary Herald

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. has been hit with one of largest penalties ever imposed in Canada for an environmental violation.

The company, based in Saint John, N.B., was fined $3.5 million Monday for dumping improperly treated effluent into the Saint John River over a two-year period.

The firm has also been added to the Environmental Offenders Registry, which includes information on convictions of corporations under federal environmental laws, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

On Oct. 9, the company pleaded guilty in Saint John provincial court to three charges under the pollution prevention provisions of the federal Fisheries Act.

“The charges stem from several incidents that occurred between June 2014 and August 2016, when improperly treated and deleterious effluent was released … into the Saint John River,” the federal department said in a statement.

In a plea deal struck with the Crown, the company admitted its mill near the Reversing Falls tourist attraction in Saint John failed to meet standards under the federal Fisheries Act.

The company failed a test that requires 50 per cent or more of tested rainbow trout to survive 96 hours in 100 per cent effluent.

However, the company said the Crown and federal authorities acknowledged the river was not harmed by the discharges, and no fish were killed.

“Safeguarding the environment has been and continues to be our top priority,” company vice-president Mark Mosher said when the company pleaded guilty on Oct. 9. “We respect the decision of the court and will ensure the mill meets the stringent guidelines.”

Irving Pulp and Paper has also agreed to build a new, multimillion-dollar effluent treatment facility over the next five years.

The mill, which employs 375 people, currently uses a so-called reverse osmosis system to meet environmental regulations. The company has said it invested heavily in this system because the mill’s neighbours were opposed to an effluent treatment facility.

The company also confirmed Monday it will provide $1.16 million to the University of New Brunswick, where the Canadian Rivers Institute will use the money to conduct research related to the conservation of Atlantic salmon.

The head of the institute, Allen Curry, said his group will now be able to buy more equipment and hire more students and technical staff. [Corporation breaks the law, admits to it, and gets to give money to propagandize and synergize research and students]

“We’re attracting students from all over the world,” he said in a statement, adding that he expects to double the number of students working at the institute.

The company had originally planned to give money to a non-profit conservation group known as the Collaboration for Atlantic Salmon Tomorrow (CAST).

Although there are no commercial ties between CAST and Irving Pulp and Paper, the co-CEO of parent company J.D. Irving Ltd., Jim Irving, is one of CAST’s three directors.

Number of injured from Irving refinery explosion higher than initial report by Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon with files from Rachel Cave, CBC News, Oct 10, 2018

The number of workers injured in the explosion and fire at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Monday is higher than the four initially reported.

Family doctor Mike Simon says he treated five workers that day alone, including two who were thrown by the blast.

He expected to see at least six more injured by the explosion or fallout by the end of the day Wednesday.

And there could be many more with psychological scars, Simon said.

“It’s almost like you’re being in a war zone, right? Because suddenly, the explosion, a lot of guys are running for their life.

“It’s extremely scary ’cause you’re in a situation, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Big bang, the force knocking you over, you know, blowing your … hard hat off your head, blowing your desk around, throwing you off a chair. You know, it’s significant. So these are real-life events.”

Irving Oil and Saint John Emergency Measures Organization officials have said four workers were treated at the Saint John Regional Hospital for minor injuries after the 10:15 a.m. blast that sent flames shooting an estimated 30 metres high and left a plume of black smoke billowing over the city’s east side for hours.

The Horizon Health Network has said the hospital treated five people for non-life-threatening injuries that day, but declined to elaborate, citing patient confidentiality.

The flames and plume of black smoke towered over the stacks at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John Monday morning. (Submitted by Doug McLean)

Officials have not provided any updates on injured workers since Tuesday, but WorksafeNB’s assistant director of investigations suggested Wednesday “the number seems to be growing.”

Eric Brideau, who visiting the site Tuesday and met with employees, said he could not confirm the total number of workers injured.

The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, but officials believe it stemmed from a malfunction in the unit that removes sulphur from diesel.

Brideau described the investigation as “technical and complex.” He expects it will take two to three months to complete.

The Irving Oil refinery is the largest in Canada. It employs about 1,400 people and is capable of producing more than 320,000 barrels per day at the sprawling site, which covers more than 300 hectares.

Close to 3,000 people were working at the time of the holiday Thanksgiving explosion because of a massive turnaround maintenance project that’s underway. About 100 of them were the normal operations crew, while the rest were contracted tradespeople from across New Brunswick and other provinces.

Variety of injuries

Simon, who’s the go-to doctor for some of the contractor companies, says contractors at the site called him about an hour after the fiery explosion, asking him to open his office in the city’s north end for incoming patients.

“There was a fellow [who] hurt his ear because the blast sort of hit him on the side. There was a guy who was blown off a ladder and twisted his ankle.

“There was a guy, who again, was blown off his desk, and fell into a railing and he had some contusions, injuries on his arm.

“Another guy, a little bit of inhalation injury because of the smoke and the dust and stuff from the explosion, he was very close to the blast. And he hurt his shoulder as well. Mostly musculoskeletal things like that.”

Boilermaker Terry MacEachern was rattled by Monday’s blast at Irving Oil facility, but is ready to return to the job. 1:31

Simon said treating less serious injuries at his office helped free up the emergency room to deal with anything more serious that came up and saved the workers from facing long waits.

The Saint John Regional Hospital went into “code orange” after the explosion was reported, meaning it was prepared for a possible mass casualties influx.

“They plan for these events well in advance” and run mock drills, said Simon, who has worked in the emergency room over the years.

There are protocols about calling in extra doctors and nurses, if necessary, as well as administrative and janitorial staff, and surgical specialists would be on-call, he said.

It takes a while for that shock to sort of percolate through somebody.- Mike Simon, family doctor

Trauma rooms would be prepped, patients discharged to clear beds, and medications readily available.

“So you’re going to get the best care available in the 21st century.”

Simon said it could take a few days for workers to even realize they’re injured after such a traumatic incident.

“It happens so quick. And it’s shock effect. And so it takes a while for that shock to sort of percolate through somebody.”

As their experience sinks in, some might find they’re having nightmares or struggling with worries, he said, calling it “normal human nature.”

“You get hit in the arm, you get a contusion or a cut, that’s the way the arm heals. You get a shock value like this, it takes a while for your brain to bounce back too.”

He encourages the affected workers to seek counselling or at least find someone they can talk to as they work their way through any issues.

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