Sussex — While having a “senior moment” today, Premier Blaine Higgs accidentally revealed that his Progressive Conservative government has quietly (because people over the age of 80 think even indoor voices are too loud) given the green light to shale gas development in the Sussex region.
But not without thinking about — or at the very least claiming they are thinking about — consulting First Nations about the regulatory change.
“Oh yes, by all means, we want to avoid the kind of confrontations that happened because of those Indi-er… I mean, ‘First Nations’ people back in 2013,” stuttered Higgs. “We don’t want them, um, taking action that could result in national or — god forbid — international media sources taking notice. Look, we just want to frack the crap out of our land and we don’t want anyone drawing attention to that.”
In 2014, former premier Brian Gallant’s Liberal government imposed a province-wide moratorium on fracking in response to those aforementioned 2013 confrontations.
“We want to do this right,” continued Higgs. “We want to do this right through the whole First Nations engagement and make sure that everyone understands that this is what the Irvings wan-er, er… what, I… oh dangnabit! Can I start over? No? Okay, well the point is, do I have a First Nation person that I need to speak to today, right today, about it? No, I don’t know who that is, and quite frankly, I don’t care to find ou- oh. Oh, geez Louise, I can’t say anything I mean, can, I?”
The federal government has recently signed a memorandum with the Elsipogtog First Nation to begin a dialog on Aboriginal title to roughly one-third of the province of New Brunswick, including the area outside of Sussex. The chief and all council members of the Elsipogtog First Nation stated that they are indeed the people to speak to about lifting the fracking moratorium, and that they are available to talk “right today” about it.
“Don’t you worry though,” said Higgs. “We’ll find some of those First Nations, I just know it. Truthfully though, it’s easier to find shale gas than it is to find a First Nations since their culture is dying and we almost got ’em extinc-”
At this point in the press conference the premier’s mic was simply turned off. The Manatee was later informed that Higgs was having a difficult “senior time” with the whole concept of including First Nation peoples in the government’s decision-making process.
The opposition Liberals were fast to condemn Higgs’s announcement, but that did not mean they were about to do something about it.
“He did not consult with New Brunswickers,” said Dieppe MLA Roger Melanson. “Sort of vaguely promising to consult with First Nation peoples is not the same as actually promising to consult with First Nations peoples. That’s where we take issue; it’s about the promises you make, whether you keep them or not doesn’t matter, but you need to make those promises and at the time, act like you’re 100% absolutely committed to them. Mr. Higgs is wishy-washy.”
To the Liberals’ credit, they did introduce a bill that would make the province-wide moratorium law, and thus render any exemptions impossible. However, they have not used their allotted opposition days in the legislature to bring the bill to a second reading.
“No one listens to me,” said Green Party Leader David Coon. “I’ve been talking about this issu-“