I didn’t want to write this, but I did (Warning: Fracking content ahead)

I read the article quoting the most popular Premier in Canada, Brad Wall, and his position on shale gas – or more specifically hydraulic fracturing as Saskatchewan is mostly using the technology to frack for oil in the Bakken – with interest.  You will probably need to have a password to the TJ to read it but it is worth it – particularly how Gallant and Cardy responded to his comments.

Cardy said he didn’t know enough about Saskatchewan’s wells to comment on whether they were safe. “I don’t know anything about the industry in Saskatchewan, all I know about is the industry in this province,” he said.

Gallant was asked on Friday if he would look to other provinces such as Saskatchewan in deciding whether to lift the proposed Liberal moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. “Sure,” he said. “But I would have to add that there would be a lot more stock in the studies and reports that we need to get the information that we think we are lacking when it comes to the risks of our water, environment, and our health.

This shows you just how toxic and polarizing shale gas is for these two politicians.  They are forced to use Rube Goldbergian linguistic contortions every time this issue is raised.

Imagine Cardy admitting he doesn’t know enough about Saskatchewan.  He is easily the closest thing to a policy wonk we have in NB politics.  If there was a poverty reduction scheme or income equality program in Saskatchewan he would have it memorized chapter and verse.  When it comes to an industry that could be a multibillion a year economic driver and bring several thousand jobs to the province, he doesn’t want to even pick up the literature to read about Saskatchewan – another Canadian province.

But I sympathize with him – I really do.  He developed probably the most elaborate and difficult policy framework for shale gas that could possibly be imagined other that outright banning the industry and still had a candidate publicly chastise him for it.  He doesn’t seem to realize that for many – many is his own party – it has nothing to do with fracking.  It’s about the oil and gas industry itself.  There are many New Brunswickers who are completely against the industry even if it means we have to import our gas from far and wide.

So there is no heavily parsed, sliced and diced, Rube Goldbergian position on shale gas that would satisfy them – not NDP, not Liberal and I suspect a good slice of Tory voters as well have no interest in learning from Saskatchewan or anywhere else.

I think we should just throw away this faux debate about fracking – it must be making journalists queasy – and get on to the real debate about whether or not we want NB to have an oil and gas exploration and production sector.