SLAPP suit against anti-fracking protest in Mi’kmaq District of Signigtog (New Brunswick) 2013

In October 2013, SWN Resources launched a SLAPP suit against anti-fracking protest in the Mi’kmaq District of Signigtog (New Brunswick). The lawsuit focused on the claim by that company to have suffered approximately $60,000 per day in expenses due to the blockade and accompanying protests of its exploration activities, including seismic testing, a prelude to hydraulic fracturing in NB for “shale gas“. The company also claimed legal costs for seeking a partly successful injunction in the SWN Notice of Action With Statement of Claim [1].

Because of simultaneous fund-raising efforts required for persons arrested in the RCMP attack on fracking protest, 17 Oct 2013, funds available for the civil defences were very limited. It is said that this may have been part of a deliberate strategy by SWN and the Alward regime to ensure there was no fair trial on the merits of respondents’ claims.

The claims of civil respondents, including Willi Nolan, include that:

  1. The lawsuit is a SLAPP, an abuse of process intended to silence opponents of SWN, not to recover actual damages that were suffered by a company engaged in legal activities.

 

  1. All reasonable avenues of protest, inquiry and reporting of these violations of law had been exhausted; there were no answers given to the standing question of who was to deal with these issues on behalf of the government, e.g. who enforced environmental laws.

 

  1. SWN had no legally issued permit for its activities, said permit having been issued contrary to environmental and health laws, without consultation with First Nations (as required by the Canadian constitution), and contrary to standing treaties with First Peoples (as required by the People themselves).

 

  1. Medical professionals, including the Canadian Medical Association, New Brunswick College of Family Physicians and the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health had uniformly opposed the shale gas development on grounds of unexamined health risks and lack of disclosure of poisonous chemicals used in shale gas exploration and extraction.

 

  1. Nearby municipalities and local service districts had almost unanimously opposed the development; their concerns were ignored.

 

  1. The seismic exploration process was itself reported as destructive; in any case permitting the explorations to proceed would have divided the communities into those at immediate risk and those at no risk, likely a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.

 

  1. First Peoples legal and traditional representatives had already rejected SWN and evicted it from the land. The citizens merely enforced this order.

 

  1. The land and water protectors named in the suit were not leading the blockade nor could they have ordered any other person to participate or not participate and that they were not personally responsible for any harms that SWN had suffered.

 

  1. The SWN request for and court granting of an ex parte interim injunction, is in itself unlawful, in that SWN cannot demonstrate “irreparable harm,” which is defined as “as harm to which no monetary compensation can cure or put conditions back the way they were, harms that are impossible to repair, rectify or amend.” The SWN claim attached a dollar value to the alleged “harm.”Conversely, opponents of shale gas development can readily point to the unsafe nature and extreme risks of grievous harm involved with the process by looking at the experiences of residents in places such as Québec, Pennsylvania, Texas and Colorado.

 

  1. SWN and the New Brunswick government may well be found to have engaged in Criminal and Civil Wrongdoings. Both have clearly been involved in a host of bothersome activities against peaceful, lawful protesters, including releasing fraudulent reports on economic, human and ecosystem health impacts from shale gas development. Regarding the SWN application to make the injunction permanent, the New Brunswick government actually applied for intervener status on behalf of SWN, effectively engaging itself in a lawsuit against all of its residents as the lawsuit named Jane and John Doe as respondents. Willi Nolan applied to the courts for a judicial review of the matter, however no mention of this application was mentioned in the decision, despite Justice George Rideout’s agreement that her October 21, 2013 statement would be accepted as an application for judicial review.

 

  1. Both the RCMP and the injunction hearings ignored the authority, laws and dictums not only of the Original peoples of this land, but also the rights of homeowners whose lives, whose survival are under threat from provincially-sanctioned SWN operations. Both ignored the obligations of Crown authorities to protect the interest of the Original peoples of the land and failed to obtain their free, prior and informed consent to developments on native lands.The actions appear to be genocidal — calculated to destroy the rights of Wabanaki peoples of Mi’kmaq Signigtog District and to cause bodily and mental harm to people who are fighting for their survivalCanada ratified the Genocide Convention more than six decades ago and has applied against other countries  It defines the crime as including “any of” a list of acts committed against an identifiable group, including not just mass killing and mass physical or mental harm but also “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part.”

 

  1. Surrounding communities, including those in Québec and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have been extremely vocal in their public education and opposition to shale gas developments in those regions, providing the public with an opportunity to keep the entire Québec-Atlantic region “Frack-Free”.

 

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Read more background with links to court filings:

“Jane Doe” SLAPPs Back! Defending Lawsuit to Silence & Intimidate Anti-Fracking Protests – http://willinolanspeaks.com/shares/jane-doe-slapps-back-defending-lawsuit-to-silence-intimidate-anti-fracking-protests/

NB Referata Wiki – Main Page – http://nb.referata.com/wiki/Main_Page

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