Fredericton — A line of protesters stands in front of the New Brunswick legislative building holding signs and placards displaying an angry droplet of water and the message “No Fracking Way.” These demonstrators have descended upon the Legislature to voice their displeasure about future Shell gas development in the province.
“No fracking way will we let these monsters poison our drinking water,” a young dreadlocked Casey MacCray told our reporter, using a politically correct substitution for a commonly used curse word. “Shell gas has no place in this province!” she shouted before returning to the crowd, a loud cheer erupting from a nearby drum circle clouded by the smoke from marijuana cigarettes.
Royal Dutch Shell, more commonly known as Shell Gas, is one of the largest petroleum producing companies in the world and not the first to face harsh rejection when entering a new province. “It’s hip to protest against successful companies these days,” said a spokesperson from Shell Gas, “but this is the first that I’ve heard of any backlash from New Brunswickers. We’ve helped plenty of small business owners reach profitability by offering a quality product and service; we have nothing but good intentions in New Brunswick. I’m really not sure what the problem is.”
But good intentions are clearly not enough in this case as an increasing number of “Say No to Shell Gas” signs have begun to dot the front lawns of New Brunswick residences and businesses. However, as is the case with most controversial stories, there is another side to this unpolished coin.
Douglas Halloway, 34, of Blackville, told our reporters that he “really don’t see no problem with Shell Gas” and that “all those dirty hippies need to go home and get real jobs.” When asked to elaborate on “real jobs,” Halloway declined to respond saying, “You know damn well what I mean,” craning his neck to lick a drop of ketchup that had fallen from his A&W Teen Burger onto his suspiciously off-white T-shirt proudly displaying the words “Haulin’ Ass.”
Other supporters of Shell Gas have made their views known, stating that Shell Gas has been safely explored for years and is very popular in many other countries and provinces. Supporters have gone on to claim that even the opening of just one single Shell Gas station would have a positive economic impact on our province, and that they don’t see how a popular gas and service centre “has anything to do with anything” in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick seems to be split down the middle when it comes to public opinion of Shell Gas in the province, with former premier David Alward going so far as to — as some experts have said — make the 2014 provincial election a referendum on Shell Gas. Running the familiar “Say Yes” (to Shell Gas) campaign, Mr. Alward attempted to separate himself from his competition as the only party leader who was willing to pursue this potentially profitable economic endeavour. Mr. Alward could not be reached for further comment; however, a party member who wishes to remain anonymous was quoted saying: “If this is what the people want, then fine, but I don’t want to hear their complaining when their brother moves to Alberta because they have Shell Gas service stations and we don’t.”
The tension surrounding Shell Gas in New Brunswick is at its peak, and it still seems unclear whether or not Shell Gas will be a positive or negative force in the province. However, it is apparent that there is more than enough fuel to keep this debate running for many months to come.