APTN National News
A man from the Mi’kmaq community at the centre of intense anti-shale gas protests says he was visited Wednesday by two plain clothes RCMP officers who were asking questions about a Facebook post calling for a protest on New Brunswick Day.
Brian Milliea, a Mi’kmaq man from Elsipogtog First Nation, said the two officers showed up at his house at about 2 p.m. looking for him. Milliea was in his office at the Elsipogtog forestry department when he received a phone call from his wife saying two men wanted to speak with him. Milliea rushed home to find the two officers waiting for him.
“They were parked in a gray van outside my driveway. One came out, and he had tattoos, while the other guy stayed in the van,” said Milliea, in a telephone interview with APTN National News. “He showed me his badge and said he was with the RCMP from a special task force.”
Milliea, who doesn’t remember the officer’s name, said the officer mentioned “the big guy,” meaning New Brunswick Premier David Alward, and an online comment Milliea made on a Facebook group.
Milliea said he can no longer find the Facebook comment, but remembers it called for a protest during New Brunswick Day celebration scheduled for Monday in Cocagne, NB.
“My comment said maybe we should protest Alward and see how he likes it with SWN and fracking,” said Milliea. “I made no threat about a violent protest or anything like that. I made no threats that we were going there to confront him. So I told him everybody makes comments every single day about Alward and fracking.”
New Brunswick RCMP spokesperson Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh said the RCMP couldn’t confirm or deny private conversations between members of the public and RCMP investigators.
SWN Resources Canada, which is headquartered in Houston, is currently exploring for shale gas deposits in the province and is expected to begin using exploratory wells by this fall.
“(The officer) said, ‘I’m here to talk about your comments.’ And he said, ‘I hope th
e protest is not going to be like Oct. 17,’” said Milliea. “I took offense to that, because now we’re considered terrorists every time we make comments. It’s because I’m from Elsipogtog.”
Milliea said the conversation lasted about five minutes and the officer left after he was told there would be no violent protests.
Heavily armed and camouflaged-clad RCMP tactical officers raided a Mi’kmaq Warrior Society-anchored anti-fracking camp on Oct. 17, 2013. The camp was blocking a compound holding shale gas exploration vehicles. The raid triggered day-long clashes between RCMP officers, Elsipogtog residents and supporters from surrounding Acadian and Anglophone communities.
The RCMP arrested 40 people and several police vehicles were torched that day. The RCMP seized hunting rifles, ammunition and crude explosive devices.
Two Warrior Society members were sentenced to 15 months this week in connection to the Oct. 17 raid.
RCMP investigators are still searching for the individuals responsible for torching the police vehicles.
The anti-fracking protests continued into late November, repeatedly shutting down a main provincial highway. Tires were also set on fire twice on Hwy 11.
Milliea said the events of Oct. 17 now overshadow any movement by Elsipogtog residents who are still concerned about the discovery of shale gas which will lead to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. People in the Mi’kmaq community and surrounding municipalities fear fracking operations could poison the region’s water.
“Every time we want to have a peaceful protest, they think we’ll have violence,” said Milliea. “It’s just because of Oct. 17. It wasn’t us who started that confrontation, it was the RCMP.”