Opponents of natural gas in Quebec warn of civil disobedience

2011-5-31

Opponents of shale gas development in Quebec have warned that they might engage in civil disobedience to keep the industry from taking off in the province.

One protest leader said people would tie themselves to gas companies' machinery and block their trucks if exploration activities went ahead.

Several dozen opponents of shale gas are marching through Quebec to warn of its possible environmental impact.

Event spokesman Philippe Duhamel said Monday that the march was just the beginning. He said there would also be training sessions on how to organize sit-ins and occupy exploration sites.

He said protesters actually got the idea from a gas-industry executive who said he would pull out of Quebec at the slightest hint of a work stoppage.

"He thought he was making a threat. We, on the other hand, believe he gave us the recipe (to block the project)," Duhamel said.

"Now it's up to us to put the ingredients together."

The 600-kilometre march stopped Monday in front of Quebec's national assembly.

Quebec appears to be sitting on massive natural-gas deposits, but plans to push ahead with development have already been delayed by a public backlash.

Evidence of soil contamination in exploratory wells, and reports of environmental damage in the United States, helped build public opposition to the industry.

Duhamel said Monday that, if the Charest government doesn't halt development over the longer term, "the people will have to stop it themselves."

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