New Brunswick's top doctor question shale gas blueprint
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health is voicing concerns about the government’s plan for shale gas development in the province.
On Thursday, the government released a shale gas blueprint highlighting six main objectives, but Dr. Eilish Cleary says health isn’t one of them.
“Health wasn’t identified specifically as an objective or priority. That does leave me some cause for concern,” says Cleary.
She says concerns she highlighted in her own report about fracking and human health have largely been ignored, including a concern that environmental impact assessments would double as an assessment of health effects.
“Out of the 30 recommendations I feel, there are still many that need to be addressed,” says Cleary.
New Brunswick’s minister of health admits he hasn’t read the complete oil and gas blueprint.
“But I can say, as minister of health, the health of the people of New Brunswick and the concern of Dr. Cleary will be taken extremely seriously,” says Ted Flemming.
Flemming says the process of developing a shale gas strategy isn’t completed, but the Opposition says it all goes deeper.
“I don’t think he and Dr. Cleary see eye-to-eye and I don’t think he likes that and I’m glad Dr. Cleary has said on several occasions now, has come out publicly and made her feelings known,” says Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault.
Last October, before Flemming became minister of health, Cleary spoke out about her role in being able to talk publicly about health issues and fracking, after the provincial government said they wouldn’t release her shale gas report, which they later did.
“I think I’ve had to reaffirm my right and my ability to speak,” says Cleary. “I think it’s part of my job and certainly I’ve had to actively take steps to make sure I was in a position to do so.”
“Her role has to have some degree of independence to it if it’s going to be a credible role,” says Flemming.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore