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LETTER: Another option to consider with regards to Northern Pulp and Boat Harbour

To the editor,

Northern Pulp cannot close by the Jan. 31 deadline because of the charade imposed on Nova Scotia by the Boat Harbour Act. Arbitrary closure of the forest industry should not be left to errant politicians while more reasonable and democratic options exist.

Although well-intentioned, to make an enormous injustice to First Nations go away, the Province and Pictou Landing First Nation, without consultation with the industry or mill owner, trapped themselves with a deadline that couldn’t possibly be met.

The premier said he wouldn’t budge on the date. Chief Andrea Paul said she would hold him to it. The premier said August 1 that he would open the Act if his Environment Department approved the mill’s new treatment proposal. Now, it’s all compromised by apparent conflicts of interest.

Our association, representing woodlot owners in the eastern half of the province of largest woods activity, and a world leader in sustainable forestry, has been an active participant in industry’s efforts to keep the mill open. No further abuse of First Nations is first place in its strategy.

The premier’s Aug. 1 re-think “as manager of the Nova Scotia economy” appeared to anticipate approval of the mill’s plan, followed by opening the Act, public consultations, a special legislature session, and extension before Christmas.

What about Pictou Landing First Nation? Publics would see it as another betrayal and industry always getting its way. Pictou Landing would fight for every inch the pipe passes over public land.  Racist rampant. It couldn’t pass public scrutiny.

To bring integrity to an unseemly mess, our Association, Cape Breton Privatelands Partnership, North Inverness and Baddeck Valley Woods Cooperatives and mainland interests have been working on an innovative option to serve the public interest.

We agreed at our Sept. 17 monthly board meeting that we may have one of a more responsible and practical calculus. More importantly, there’s near-consensus for it as a win foremost for Pictou Landing First Nation, and Northern Pulp and the Province.

Chief Andrea Paul says her principal interest is cleaning Boat Harbour, not mill closure.  Her preference for effluent treatment, recommended by her commissioned engineers to the Province, is wetlands engineering---isolating the bad stuff naturally to benefit all of us.

Northern Pulp, enthused by the idea, says it is willing to consider it as a pilot project. Our investigation indicates wetlands engineering is comparable in cost, less expensive to maintain. If successful, it could make Northern Pulp the No. 1 brand in the kraft mill world.

The association is soliciting opinions of the most innovative part of the “Landowners Option.”  The state of democracy everywhere is a significant issue. Managing the serious moral and environmental implications at Northern Pulp shouldn’t have been left solely to politicians.

We believe a social comity, engaging our political, labour and religious institutions, is warranted to assure no further abuse of Pictou Landing First Nation.

Kingsley Brown is president of the Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association

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