Daycare nation: Liberals and the cynical politics of shale gas

Politics in New Brunswick sometimes feels like a daycare.   I said here last week the Liberal party would likely call for a moratorium on shale gas drilling just because….

Does everything have to be politicized?   I remember when Bernard Lord in 1999 rejected McKenna’s economic development approach calling for a “made in New Brunswick” model.  That was a joke.  It was purely for political aims to cast doubt on the Liberals and claim there was a ‘better way’.  That little political move set us back years.

Now here we go with the provincial Liberals.  I am sure to be dropped off certain Christmas card lists but I call it like I see it.  The Liberals are wrong on the natural gas issue and I think it is a callous political play.

And, for what it is worth, most of the problems displayed in Gasland (referenced in this article) were associated with the first generation of shale gas drilling and most have been addressed.

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11 Responses to Daycare nation: Liberals and the cynical politics of shale gas

  1. richard says:

    ” I think it is a callous political play.”

    Maybe. Or maybe they are taking a brave stand to protect ‘our precious bodily fluids’ against ‘the Other’. Last year, ‘the Other’ was Hydro Quebec and NBers were up in arms that foreign agents (i.e. Quebeckers) were about to bring impure ideas to NB. This year, it is the turn of US shale gas developers. This year, ‘the Other’ has an American accent rather than a Quebecois accent. But the goal is the same – to contaminate ‘our precious bodily fluids’. I don’t understand, David, how you can be against those who are fighting the good fight to protect OPBFs.

  2. mikel says:

    Actually, not nearly ENOUGH things are politicized. It’s just a little fascist to want there to be NO representation for a sizeable population which wants to adopt a specific public policy. I really just don’t understand that. I’ll repeat what I wrote at the Irving article-it really shows a deeply dysfunctional governmental system when popular policies are only EVER held by opposition parties. Then they get into power and the parties are reversed and the population still has no representation. That’s the kind of stuff that is never written about in the media because it becomes obvious that there really is no point to voting.

    I might add it also explains why the population only ever seems to ‘protest’ certain policies.

    While many of the ‘Gasland’ details have been addressed in OTHER jurisdictions, they have not yet been in New Brunswick. In Arkansas there has been a ban on drilling in certain areas because of the incredible increase in earthquakes.

    There have been on air pollution laws set in place, and NB has the worst trucking weight restrictions, which guarantees road damage. However, I should point out that I’m on the mailing list of one of the most vocal opposition groups in the province, and their board has come out of last weeks meeting switching their position and supporting the government. So its far from true that protests just happen for the sake of protest. For one thing, if these protests DIDN”T happen, you certainly wouldn’t see the government come out with the policies they’ve recently introduced (tho not yet implemented).

    One of those policies is a sharing of gas profits. So say what you want about protests, but in this case it was the protest that increased the economic development opportunities of gas development-not the position that said the population should bend over for the natural gas jobs.

  3. mikel says:

    Just to counter Richard’s sarcasm, perhaps if some of the investments moving in were a little less polluted (or ing) then people would be willing to adopt them. I really don’t remember too many protests popping up when UMOE was moving into Miramichi, RIM into Fredericton, or Radian6 selling out to an american firm which very well could pull the entire organization out of Fredericton.

    A lot of people simply don’t like to realize that other people may simply be right-and willing to fight for their rights.

  4. scott says:

    The problem with NB is they are always last to the finish line. And once they cross it and are bentover and out of breath because of lack of training/preparation, the gun goes off starting the next race. It’s a vicious cycle.

  5. Anon says:

    This position could be taken more seriously except it was the Liberal party who proudly announced the shale gas exploration contracts.

    So, was there a secret party policy conference that brought in subject matter experts resulting in a reversal of policy or is this a case of poltical opportunists responding because of some protestors?

    This feels familiar; can anyone say toll highway?

  6. I think the PC toll highway position is a very similar analogy that has cost the province several hundred million in lost tolls and increased debt servicing payments (not to mention the cost of severing the contract). The Libs are saying it is ‘temporary’ but everyone knows that if they pull the plug on the industry, we’ve lost it for at least a decade or maybe much more. The ultimate cost of that could be much higher than the toll highway.

  7. Jim Kitts says:

    You are beating a dead horse David.
    In NB people demand asphalt and march against gravel pits.
    Demand cheap gas but don’t drill, please.
    We are old, on welfare and like it. Your average person is 20 years from being locked up in ‘the home’ so our planning time horizon is getting shorter. Nobody in NB cares about the future because the most of us who are left are not expecting to be there, except wearing a diaper and sucking our thumb. That’s all we deserve and it’s not so very different than what we do now.

  8. mikel says:

    Keep in mind that shale gas exploration is NOT the same as shale gas extraction. However, we have a pretty large sized protest, so its no different from the tories stance on NBPower, or the liberal stance on public insurance. The reality is that that is the way that politics is done. Given the comments here I’d also add that its the way it SHOULD be done, because there seems to be at least a few folks around that don’t think people who disagree with them should even be allowed to HAVE political representation. That’s not just bad politically, but also environmentally and in the long term, economically.

    The comparison with toll highways isn’t really apt since we are three and a half years away from an election, so the liberals stating this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an election platform. As for ‘timing’, its actually the WORST timing for natural gas extraction because there is currently an over supply of natural gas, which has resulted in a ten year price low. It’s when prices and supply are HIGH that you’ve got a real selling point to industry by saying “hey, look how much gas we’ve got”.

    The one comparison I’d make with the toll highway is that it is yet another issue which should best be decided by the people in a referendum. While people blast the moratorium on natural gas, there is the further policy decision which is equally valid-namely, that if the people should decide they simply don’t want ANY gas extraction, then that should be their right. And when these policies are decided through a referendum, there is no political posturing, and you don’t have to worry about political parties constantly weaving and ducking. But of course then you have the always present elitist view-that people simply shouldn’t be ALLOWED to choose what happens with their province. As the doctor on Monty Python said to the mother who asked what she should do while giving birth-“Your not ‘qualified'”.

  9. richard says:

    “In NB people demand asphalt and march against gravel pits.”

    Good one, Mr Kitts.

    ” another issue which should best be decided by the people in a referendum.”

    I’m sure that more than a few in AB would love a referendum on whether they want to continue paying out for NB’s transfer payments. Why should we support a province that won’t even try, they will say.

    The issue is not whether the people have a ‘right’ to do this or that. The issue is whether shale gas development should go ahead, and if so, under what conditions. A referendum campaign might be pleasing to those who want to mount their white charger and pose for the cameras, but it wont lead to any rational discussion – just more heated rhetoric on both sides.

  10. mikel says:

    That is no more true than ANY election. However, referenda typically have less ‘rhetoric’ than elections. But I know that we have a few here who think than ANY other view than their own is not ‘rational’. But there is a pretty simple reason why urban areas are off limits to gas extraction. If its so safe and great, why not have it right in downtown Moncton? After all, it often takes up no more room than a construction site.

    Protecting the environment is hardly ‘not trying’. Even when UMOE was given a very generous wood cutting allotment before even starting construction on a solar plant there were NO protests. As far as rhetoric goes, you guys can hardly talk. Saying things like “people demand asphalt and march against gravel pits” is the poster child of rhetorical devices (we know its not true, but it gives the impression that people are blatantly hypocritical in their demands).

    So don’t preach about rhetoric while at the same time using it-ironically it makes YOU even more guilty than the people you are ‘rationally discussing’ this with.

    Referenda bring out quite a plethora of views, some may call that ‘irrational’, but its simply diverse. There are many who oppose ANY gas extraction, and that is their right. You have no right to say they are irrational because they have not been convinced.

    And again, the unfortunate thing is that a vocal protest may only represent a minority-in fact I suspect it does. So ironically you are arguing against a political mechanism that may very well give the result you want (unlike vocal opposition or lawsuits).

  11. richard says:

    ” However, referenda typically have less ‘rhetoric’ than elections. ”

    That’s BS and I think everyone knows it. Hot button issues always bring out more rhetoric and less rational discussion.

    But in any event, yes, let ABers vote on whether to end transfer payments to NB. Great idea.

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