New Brunswick Government may give citizens more power taking on corporations

New Brunswick Government may give citizens more power taking on corporations by CBC News, April 20, 2012
The Alward government is looking at changing regulations to give citizens more power to take on big resource companies. … Penobsquis residents are currently seeking financial compensation from PotashCorp for the loss of their well water, but believe the company has an unfair advantage at the hearings. The 25 residents say they don’t have the money to hire attorneys who can match high-priced corporate lawyers. … Northrup, whose riding includes Penobsquis, said he’s aware of the concerns and he hopes to address them. He’s looking at changes that could create more of a level playing field for citizens, he said. “It is with the attorney-general right now to get a legal opinion on that, to put regulations in place so that that wouldn’t happen again. So we haven’t forgot about that, I can guarantee you that.” Put burden of proof on corporations The Opposition Liberals contend it should be up to a corporation to prove it’s not causing environmental damage – instead of requiring residents to prove that it is. Legal experts are looking at the legal implications of making that change, said Northrup. … Northrup said he sympathizes with the residents. “They went through hell and back again, and I’m not going to sit here and make excuses or anything like that,” he said. … Last fall, the residents cut their ties with lawyer Michel DesNeiges, who had been representing them for years. Resident Beth Nixon told CBC News they made the decision because their legal bills were piling up as the hearing dragged on. The provincial mining commissioner has the power to award financial compensation to the homeowners. However, the decision can be appealed to the courts.

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