Yesterday, Natural Resources minister Bruce Northrop announced that Windsor Energy would not be prosecuted for violation of gas exploration regulations. There's no doubt it did violate them. Windsor Energy admitted long ago that it violated them - to save money. It seems, though, that our "tough" regulations have no penalties attached to them. Let's think of what that means.
1. Explorations has been going on for ten to a dozen years. In that time, we have had no protection whatever against the dangers of such explorations - despite the fact that we have frequently been told we have no reason to worry because we have such tight regulations.
2. Shale gas is not a side issue. In fact, it is being pimped as the key to New Brunswick's future. This is a major issue And the man most responsible for it, the minister of resources it did not know that the regulations could not be enforced?
If that is true, Mr. Northrup should be ordered by the premier to fall on his sword. If that is true, it's an astonshing display of incompetence on the part of the minister, and it's incompetence that that has endangered the health and safety of all New Brunswickers.
3. This has been going on for years. The legislature through all those years has been dripping with lawyers. As well, there are lawyers employed by government who specialize in the wording of laws. Is it possible that all those experts, over so many years, and whether Liberal or Conservatives, noticed that we had passed such important regulations, but had "forgotten" to include penalties?
I cannot believe that all those people were so stupid for so long. They must have known well what was going on.
4 Brunswick Media has a legislative reporter. Usually, legislatve reporters have some training and considerable experience. Usually, they read bills that are before the house. Did the legislative reporter not bother to read even such an important piece of legislation? Or did editors simply decide not to print his story?
5. How come this gap in the legislation was never noticed earlier? Is it possible that it wasn't noticed because the government has never bothered to carry out inspections or to enforce the regulations before?
6. How could it possibly take the RCMP, with all its expertise, a month to notice that the regulation was enenforceable?
7. Obviously, Windsor Energy knew it had nothing to fear. That's why it broke the regulation in the first place. I would think it almost certain that Windsor Energy pointed that out to the premier and to Mr. Northrup the day it happened.
This looks like comic opera. But there's nothing comic about it. We're being played for suckers by the energy industry and by both mainline parties. The whole future of the environment and of health in this province has been placed in jeopardy by the same people who lied to us almost daily about how tough the regulations were, how the inspection was tough, and how both would get tougher.
We've been lied to by the whole political structure of this province for years - and on a crucial issue in both economic and health terms.
And what will Mr. Northrup do about it? Well, he's going to pass even tougher regulations and, in cotrast to his past performance, he's going to enforce them. That's not good enough. And based on the record it's not believable.
Mr. Northrup: if you were a man of any integrity and honour, you would apologize and resign. Indeed, I would say the same for all members of the legislature including (especially including) the premier.
In newspaper terms, this is not just the story of the year. This could well be the story of the cenutry. This is the worst debasement of democracy and political inegrity this province has ever seen. So where are the commentaries on it in The TandT?
There aren't any.
If you look really hard though, you can find the story itself - hidden on p. A12. It's a very short one.
The editorial is a piece indicating the editorial writer has a (deliberate?) ignorance of statistics and of polling. It not only accepts the very misleading poll that shows the Allward government in high popularity, it draws conclusions about it that cannot possibly be drawn from the data in the poll.
Generally, it's a kiss-up to the dreary Mr. Allward, and it's accompanied by a kiss-up cartoon from de Adder.
Excellent op ed column by Jody Dallaire, using samples of legislation to show how some politicians work, and the real reasons they pass the laws that they do.
There's also a thoughtful column by Rod Allen. In it, he mentions seeing a woman reading a paperback, "A**holes Finish First". He concludes "I hope it isn't true. I hope that isn't a 'bible' for our times.
I'm afraid it's worse than that. The Bible for our times - it has been for some 40 years - is "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. It's a book in praise of greed, self-interest, and indifference to others. Read it to understand the political and corporate circles of New Brunswick.