Is this New Brunswick democracy or selective oppression?

Is this New Brunswick democracy or selective oppression? by Greg Cook, April 18, 2012, Moncton Free Press
Yesterday morning I witnessed the mining commission hearing of the 26 Penobsquis citizens asking for compensation for what has been happening to them since 2004. The citizens believe they have suffered the effects caused by subsidence (sink holes), such as loss of well water, emotional stress, loss of property value and loss of way of life. I have heard and read public comment in defense of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan and the shale gas industry development in the area. Too often the public comments suggest the citizens don’t even deserve a hearing. Arguments are made that subsidence has a history in the area preceding the establishment of potash mines and petroleum industry drilling in the area. While listening to the “David and Goliath” – citizens representing themselves in a struggle with corporate lawyers – I kept thinking of the history of flooding on the Saint John River. This spring in the Perth-Andover area an ice jam caused flooding damage to properties. I began weighing how these property owners were any different than the citizens of Penobsquis. If, indeed, there is any difference at all. For example there is a long history of flooding along the Saint John River, just as there is a history of subsidence in the Penobsquis area. The province’s crown corporation, NB Power, has dams on the river. The Department of environment has challenges predicting flooding, just as it has challenges predicting water loss and the other effects of subsidence in Penobsquis. Premier David Alward is reported to have been prompt in the Perth-Andover flooding and “committed to disaster financial assistance for flood victims.” Yet, the citizens of Penobsquis are being put through a grueling “David versus Goliath” months-long struggle over the effects of subsidence in the past ten years on the flood plain of the Sussex area beginning eight years ago.

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