REXTON, N.B. – The fallout is expected to continue after a protest against shale gas exploration in the eastern New Brunswick community of Rexton turned violent.
Sympathy protests were staged across the country Thursday, and more are planned for today.
The mayor of the village of Perth-Andover in western New Brunswick says about three dozen protesters from the Tobique First Nation blocked traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway for several hours Thursday before ending their protest at 8 p.m.
Peter Ritchie says truck traffic was backed up for several kilometres on both sides of the highway.
In Winnipeg, about 50 protesters disrupted traffic at Main and Portage in support of the Rexton protesters.
The demonstration in Winnipeg was relatively peaceful, but protesters did burn a Canadian flag before making their way to the RCMP building on Portage Avenue.
In southern Ontario on Thursday, provincial police said 30 to 40 protesters shut down Highway 6 between the communities of Hagersville and Caledonia.
A local news agency, Turtle Island News, said the protest by Six Nations members was also staged in solidarity with the protests in eastern New Brunswick.
Meanwhile, a councillor with the Elsipogtog (ell-see-book-took) First Nation says a meeting is expected today with New Brunswick Premier David Alward to discuss what happened at the protest site near Rexton.
Robert Levi says Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock will probably meet with Alward this afternoon in Fredericton.
Levi and Sock were among the dozens of people arrested Thursday after the Mounties enforced an injunction to end the ongoing demonstration.
Five police vehicles were torched and the Mounties said Molotov cocktails were thrown at them.
The protesters, who include members of Elsipogtog, want SWN (swin) Resources to stop seismic testing and leave the province.
Alward has said he wants a peaceful resolution, adding that he still believes a shale gas industry can be developed in the province both safely and in a sustainable way.
David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Green party, issued a statement Thursday saying the violence at the protest was the result of an “RCMP assault.”
Coon says Alward has missed an opportunity to reset his government’s relationship with First Nations in New Brunswick.
“The people of Elsipogtog and local residents of Kent County were simply trying to protect their right to safe water and the well-being of their communities through peaceful civil disobedience,” Coon said. “Their cause is just and deserves respect. The decision to respond with force will deepen the conflict.”