'People's Frackdown' calls for nationwide ban on fracking

Frank Gale
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With about 45 people in attendance at the first-ever "People's Frackdown" in Stephenville on Thursday, facilitator Joe Wiseman vowed this will be the first event of many.

Singing along to a protest song during the "People's Frackdown" at the Lions Club in Stephenville on Thursday afternoon are Marion Sampson (left) and Marjorie Robertson.

A "frackdown" is an event to challenge hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - a technique that uses millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals to break open shale rock deep underground in order to extract gas.

Kenny (Mutchie) Bennett, a Qalipu First Nation member, attended the event, held in support of people who are trying to stop fracking in New Brunswick.

"Spontaneous events like this will really keep things going when it comes to getting the word out about fracking and its effects on the environment," said Mr. Bennett.

"It's wonderful someone other than the fracking awareness group arranged this."

With the government taking a break and it being off-season for the oil companies, said Mr. Bennett, it's good to see that people who really care about the land aren't going to sleep on this issue over the winter.

He thinks it's sad that some families are split over this issue and it's disheartening to see it come down to people disrespecting each other.

"It's wonderful the United Church is taking a stand on this issue and it would be nice if other church leaders would get involved and maybe organize their own events," he said.

Rev. Kathryn Vance of the First United Church in Stephenville was a co-facilitator of the event.

In addition to having a number of people who are associated with the Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group address those on hand, there were a number of protest songs sung and petitions signed, and the event ended with a sacred circle, led by Mr. Bennett.

Mr. Wiseman said he got involved because, to him, the science is clear. While he's not a scientist, Wiseman trusts David Suzuki when the noted Canadian environmentalist speaks about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing.

"It's not 'maybe.' The science has been done and there is no need for governments to be studying if hydraulic fracturing will destroy our environment - it does," Mr. Wiseman said, adding politicians will listen to voters and if voters say, "stop the fracking," politicians will stop it.

He said multiple jurisdictions have banned fracking and one of them is the poor nation of Bulgaria, which recently moved ahead with a ban on the practice.

Mr. Wiseman said France, a western industrialized nation that needs oil as much as any nation, has banned fracking as well.

"What is Canada waiting for?" he asked. "It's time for a nationwide ban on fracking in this country, too."

Organizations: Qalipu First Nation, First United Church

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Stephenville, Bulgaria Canada

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