Nova Scotia Premier McNeil keeps commitment to Pictou Landing First Nation to close Boat Harbour mill effluent treatment facility, Northern Pulp mill will shut down 20Dec2019

“In 2015, I made a commitment to clean up Boat Harbour and I am honouring that commitment today. Now, I am making a commitment to the workers of the mill and the forestry sector throughout Nova Scotia that we will be here for you in this transition – and make no mistake, I will honour that commitment as well.” – News Release

As reported on CBC*:
*Northern Pulp plans to shut down Nova Scotia mill after premier refuses to grant extension By Michael Gorman for CBC News Dec 20, 2019

After three days of public silence, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil delivered a decision that could define his time in office — his government won’t amend the Boat Harbour Act, forcing the impending closure of Northern Pulp’s effluent facility by the end of January.

The move keeps a promise McNeil made to a First Nation almost five years ago, and ends what he and members of his government have referred to as one of the province’s worst examples of environmental racism.

But it also forces the closure of Northern Pulp, the largest player in the province’s forestry sector. Without being able to use Boat Harbour to treat its effluent, the Pictou County mill is unable to operate, and could kill as many as 2,700 forestry-related jobs.

Chief Andrea Paul (of Pictou Landing First Nation] reacts to mill decision (CTV News Atlantic):

It’s been a long time coming, I am very grateful to Premier Stephen McNeil,… to my community… and the greater community for allowing us the opportunity to sit around that table and be their voice…I knew it was not going to be easy for the people around Nova Scotia…I just want to say thank you for putting an end to this pollution and thank you for allowing us the opportunity to heal, not just in Pictou Landing but also in the greater community.

Some of the political reaction, as reported in the Halifax Examiner*:
*What it all means: the closure of Northern Pulp Mill, the future of forestry, and an act of reconciliation Tim Bousquet, Jennifer Henderson and Joan Baxter in the Halifax Examiner, Dec 20, 2019

After McNeil made his announcement, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston spoke with reporters.

“It’s an incredibly sad day for thousands of Nova Scotia families, people working in the woods, running porters, running the mills, delivering fuel, a devastating day for those families today,” said Houston. I totally got it. For those people, the effect it’s going to have on them over the next couple of years of their life.”

But Houston supported McNeil’s decision. “I’ve always said it’s the responsibility of government to uphold the law,” said Houston. “This is the law. The premier made a very powerful statement that the company is no closer today than it was five years ago to getting [out of] Boat Harbour. And that’s been weighing on my mind very heavy. I was always waiting for the company to get approval as a starting point for a project. And here we are today and there’s still no approval for a project. And that’s just what’s been weighing on my mind.”

Also view:
Boat Harbour Act Deadline Remains in Place
Premier’s Office December 20, 2019

Completely overwhelmed’: Workers, forestry sector react to Northern Pulp news Frances Willick for CBC News Dec 20, 2019


Some comments on social media

Mike Lancaster on Healthy Forest Coalition Facebook page:

Premier McNeil will stay true to his word and honour the Boat Harbour Act!

Finally, we will see an end to over 50 years of this intolerable environmental racism and destruction in our province.

It must not be undervalued that this government upheld their decision to stay strong under all of the pressure that has been foisted upon them in recent months. We must commend and congratulate this government for what was a dangerous political move, one that so many former governments played ‘hot-potato’ with.

This government will forever have my gratitude for this decision.

Now, moving forward, we must boldly embrace the uncertain future that lies ahead, roll up our sleeves and work to create a truly sustainable, diversified, high, and multiple-value-based forests industry for our province. We must also have empathy for those whose livelihoods will be affected by this decision. We must work together to create solutions that balance ecology, economy, heritage, recreation, tourism, and genuine indicators of human well-being.

It is well within reason for forestry to to achieve these outcomes if we come together to ensure that this new dawn sets us headed in the right direction. We have the opportunity to revitalize the models which have dominated how we have done forestry in Nova Scotia for the past half century. I am very pleased to hear of the announcement of the 50 million dollar ‘transition fund’ – something that I have always maintained would be necessary in order to aid in this process.

The role of groups like the Healthy Forest Coalition have become all the more essential. As a group that has been advocating for reform in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of forestry and forest ecology in Nova Scotia, it is up us, and others like us, to help guide this transition to this more balanced future.

KAY:  So happy to hear this 😃Well done Stephen McNeil! I’m proud of this government’s decision

AF:  thank you premier McNeil from a long time ns forestry worker i would like to take this chance to call on members of this group to stop buying imported lumber and seek out and use local lumber for there next project

DC:  It is actually possible to maximize annual carbon sequestration in forests while selectively harvesting for local-use construction materials. If those materials are used in long-used/maintained buildings, further carbon sequestration results. If they are used to build carbon-negative buildings, we really win!

TBT: I am not gloating, but I did win a bet today. It was an ethical decision, not a political decision. It is good to hear Mike’s words, which like those of Chief Andrea Paul, and even those Tim Houston (PC leader) are sombre but supportive of the Premier’s decision and empathetic to the challenges now facing forestry workers. We all need to heal, like the land that supports us.

On Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology Facebook group

PB: I find it interesting that this story is unfolding just as Trudeau is asking the U.S. to come to the aid of the men detained in China. I heard the live feed of McNeil handing down the decision, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he had been told what to do…It’s so unlike him to stand in the way of big business. I also had to wonder about all the incentives that had taken place in Digby County with Gordon Wilson at the helm to bring Chinese investors into this area..I think there is more to this story than meets the eye…however…it really is great that the environment gets a breather….how ever short lived it may turn out to be.

DGP: I am sorry, I respectfully disagree. I am not a Liberal wag, but since 2015 I have talked to Labi Kousoulis (my MLA) who brought in the Boat Harbour Act, also to McNeil, and I have always been convinced they would stick to it. (I won a Loony today on a bet). It was an ethical decision, not a political one and is is historically incredibly significant. Our give-aways to Big Forestry go back to the late 1800s, this is the first time, they have not got what they wanted. We have to thank McNeil, whatever else we may not be happy with about the Liberal tenure.

BW: Dear Premier McNeil, I wish to thank you for upholding the Boat Harbour Act. I just watched the broadcast of your decision and agree with your statements. I am relieved for the people of Pictou Landing First Nation, and for all who are living in that area. I am also glad to hear that there are already plans to help the Northern Pulp workers as they move forward. This will definitely be a time of transition for them, and for the forest industry. However, transition often brings about positive change. That is something we can all hope for and work toward in the days ahead.

North Nova Forest Owners Co-op Ltd.
The Forestry sector is no stranger to changes and NNFOC has survived and risen to many challenges over our 40 years of existence. We very much value and appreciate our relationship with Northern Pulp but it appears we will be working harder to find new markets going forward. We accept the Governments decision and look forward to working with them on the transition of the forestry sector in Nova Scotia.”

S.L Let’s see this as an opportunity. Really was northern pulp etc. the best we could do with such valuable resources? We tend to forget just how fortunate we are to have our forests. Most places have sold their forests off to corps for a fraction of their value. We don’t need to make the same mistakes.
Most of our forest is privately owned. The public forest is less than 40 years old on average, with the exemption of protected areas .
We are in a good position for a forestry transition towards carbon sequestration and restoration projects. We just need a market that really values our forests. Why not look at getting around restrictive trade agreements? We could have value adding industry here and export finished/manufactured products with more ease.
Let’s stand up and demand our government officials act in our best interests. Let’s get creative and build small industry in rural areas. We can all work on this together. We don’t have to put up with the status quo, selling ourselves out. We really can do so much better.

On HFC Facebook Page

RC: The decision on Boat Harbor, as great as it was, ( it sure was great ) does not mean anything in forestry in this province changes. The cutting is still going to go on as it has been. Not only to feed PHP, but as MacNeil himself kept stating, it is ok to chip and ship what is left of our forests, overseas. The term ” residual chips” means nothing when they are chipping our forests on location and trucking and shipping out. Now is the time to end the corporate welfare system that is often referred to as ” Nova Scotia’s forestry industry”. 50 million, 100 million, 1 billion. It means nothing if short term ignorant mindsets persist. I hope this is the first domino that eventually leads to healthy forests in this province and an actually sustainable way of life that has a chance of being passed down to future generations. We need to start adding value back before we ever think of taking from again.

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