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October in Review

Cops attack anti-shale gas camp in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia is open for gas exploration, Barrick Gold runs from Pascua-Lama

by Dominion Editorial Collective

When cops attack. On October 17th, RCMP from Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick and Quebec descended upon an anti-shale gas encampment with their guns drawn. [Photo: Miles Howe]
When cops attack. On October 17th, RCMP from Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick and Quebec descended upon an anti-shale gas encampment with their guns drawn. [Photo: Miles Howe]

On October 17th, RCMP forces aggressively intervened in protests against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick, arresting at least 40 protestors. The police force included Emergency Response Teams and Tactical units from Quebec, Nova Scotia and PEI, and New Brunswick.

The pre-dawn raid targeted a highway encampment that had been preventing SWN Resources from conducting seismic testing in the area for close to three weeks. SWN Resources had been granted an injunction against the encampment which was due to expire on October 21st.

Solidarity actions were held in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec, and British Columbia.

New Brunswick's Conservative premier David Alward still refuses to meet with anti-shale gas activists, and Energy minister Craig Leonard seems to think the whole thing is a joke.

SWN is apparently now planning to sue protestors for damages to their equipment and time lost on the job site. The company is looking to recover $650,000 from everybody in New Brunswick, really, as their lawsuit names John and Jane Doe as respondents.

Nova Scotia's provincial elections saw the Liberals win a majority government. Wilf Day reported that although “Liberal voters cast 45.5% of the ballots, [they] elected 64 per cent of the MLAs.” The 2012 Report of the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission is recommending public consultation on the topic of electoral reform.

The new Nova Scotia Liberal government has wasted no time in opening up the province to gas development, issuing East Coast Energy a permit for two exploratory wells in Pictou County within it's first few days in office. Provincial Energy minister Andrew Younger maintains that no hydraulic fracturing will occur.

Former Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Phil Fontaine was named to the board of New Brunswick Power. Fontaine is infamous for having shared information with the RCMP in order to monitor Indigenous protests in 2007. With the Energy East pipeline project in the works, land claims and Indigenous consultation in New Brunswick will continue to make headlines.

A natural gas liquefaction plant may be coming to rural Goldoboro, Nova Scotia. After years of rumblings about the project, Nova Scotia's government has finally submitted an Environmental Assessment to its review board. The assessment notes that the proposed plant will have the capacity to process and export 10 million tons of natural gas per year.

Helicopters in the Sydney and Reserve Mines, Nova Scotia, area have been indeed conducting seismic testing. But according to the Carbon Capture and Storage Research Consortium of Nova Scotia, the testing is related to finding potential sites for Carbon Sequestration, rather than looking for shale gas deposits.

Talk about poor timing. The Harper Government's cuts to Veterans Affairs service providers, which stands to leave thousands of Canadian veterans dealing with automated phone and web-site services - rather than real human beings - is gaining national attention with Remembrance Day around the corner. The cuts have spawned the popular twitter hash-tag #showyouremember.

In Montreal, environmental activists disrupted the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings, claiming the board takes climate change too lightly. What's more, activists argue that the NEB process is virtually meaningless since the Conservatives' budget implementation bill gave the Harper government the ability to overrule NEB decisions.

The streets of Montreal filled with protesters marching "together against the xenophobic charter"—officially known as the Charter of Quebec Values. The Charter, proposed by the province's Parti Québécois government, would make it illegal for public employees to wear overt religious symbols. Jaggi Singh, a member of No One is Illegal and Solidarity Across Borders, countered that secularism does not mean preventing people who wear religious symbols from participating in the workforce.

Increasing gentrification in downtown Toronto is presenting homeless people with a dilemma: staying close to services and community in the downtown, or relocating to find more secure housing. Toronto's Downtown East offers many support services but lacks low-income housing initiatives. “We look out for each other and don’t want to be forced to move to Scarborough,” said Brian DuBourdieu, a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty who lives in veterans’ housing.

October 15th marked the second anniversary of the Occupy movement in Canada. Groups like the Occupy Toronto garden groups, the Victoria People’s General Assembly, and the Occupy Toronto Livestream team have continued to work towards builting alternate economies. Media Co-op contributor Daniel Johnson wrote argues that the continuing impact of the Occupy movement is reflected in reports such as the United Nations MDG 2015 Global Open Consultations.

Vancouver’s City Council debated a resolution to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Ben West of ForestEthics Advocacy speculated that "within the next six months we'll actually see Vancouver be one of the first major cities, I think the first in Canada, to officially divest from fossil fuels.”

In Vancouver, Greenpeace activists locked themselves to equipment at the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline site in protest of the company's plan to expand its pipeline capacity. The proposed expansion would increase tanker traffic along BC's coast. "With every extra tanker or kilometer of pipeline, we increase the risk of an accident that would be catastrophic to the coast and our communities,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Mike Hudema.

October marked the one year anniversary of the Cohen Report, released last fall. The report capped a three-year federal commission of inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.  In the year since its release, both the federal government and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have kept mum on the report's recommendations. Ottawa continues to suppress key scientific documents needed for the implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy. Scientists across Canada are raising alarm bells about the Harper government's "big chill" on scientific inquiry.

The US government was shut down between October 1st and October 16th. The shutdown occurred after Congress was unable to enact legislation for the 2014 budget. According to Democracy Now, it was instigated by the Republican Tea Party, who “backed a House bill tying continued government funding to a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of a tax to pay for it.” During the shutdown, government services were closed and government employees were furloughed (suspended without pay).

Gecamines, the Congolese State-owned mining company, is apparently in the advanced stages of selling off asests to a massive copper mine - without informing the Congolese Minstry of Mines. Kofi Annan's Africa Progress Panel estimates that the Congo has lost out on over $1.36 billion between 2010 and 2012 due to shady Gecamines dealings. This is twice the annual amount that the Congo spends on health and education combined.

Al Jazeera reported that a senior Israeli official has announced plans to continue settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The official claimed Palestinians were aware of this prior to the commencement of peace talks, which re-commenced in July for the first time in three years. "For us, all settlements are illegal and Israel should stop putting obstacles in the way of peace," said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Settlement building is illegal under international law.

Reeling from continuous people-powered actions, Canadian Barrick Gold Corp. is suspending activities in its highly controversial Pascua-Lama project, a mega-mine that straddles the Chilean-Argentinian border.

The United Kingdom has passed legislation that will require resource-based companies to publicly publish revenue payments down to the project-level. Critics have praised the initiative, noting that it should lead to a far greater degree of transparency.

On October 31st, through no fault of their own, dogs across North America may well have been dressed like this.

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