Reactions from both sides: UNUFOR and Friends of the Northumberland Strait react to Northern Pulp government decision

**** Friends of the Northumberland Strait Media Release

We applaud your decision, Premier McNeil: Friends of the Northumberland Strait and Ecojustice.

​ “We are overjoyed that Premier McNeil, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, has stood by the promise to close Boat Harbour on January 31, 2020,” says Jill Graham-Scanlan, President of Friends of the Northumberland Strait (FONS). “We recognize the many losses PLFN has suffered for over 50 years that can never be recovered, and we rejoice with PLFN that this long injustice will end. We look forward to seeing the polluted waters of Boat Harbour restored to become A’se’k again, a place of peace, healing and plenty.”

“Premier McNeil made a courageous decision,” says James Gunvaldsen Klaassen of Ecojustice. “He did the right thing for Pictou Landing First Nation, for the vulnerable​ environment of the Northumberland Strait and those who make their living from it. It was promising to hear that the Premier is committed to cushioning the blow for mill and forestry workers during the transition of the forestry industry and moving more quickly to implementing the Lahey report.”

“While we rejoice at this decision, our sympathy is with those who face job loss and unknown changes in their industry,” says Graham-Scanlan.​ “We agree that the responsibility for these losses rests with Northern Pulp. From the beginning, the company has delayed, they have refused to consider any other option than a pipe in the Strait, and they have not shown that their proposed new facility can meet environmental standards.”

“We don’t buy Northern Pulp’s claim that they did not know what was needed,” says Gunvaldsen Klaassen. “Their task from day one was to provide solid scientific evidence that the project would not cause environmental harm. They didn’t do so, despite having​ two chances to do this – and the Minister gave them a third chance on Tuesday. The instructions for the Terms of Reference for the Focus Report were very clear, and Northern Pulp did not provide all the required information.”

Graham-Scanlan says that she is pleased that Premier McNeil announced a transition plan, with funding and staffing, to move towards a diversified forestry industry that is not dependent on one major player. “We look forward to a win-win transition of the forest industry in a way that will benefit local businesses, communities and the environment for many years to come. We look forward to working with our neighbours towards a thriving Pictou County built on a healthy and sustainable environment,” Graham-Scanlan adds.



** UNIFOR Media Release

Premier McNeil throws away 2,700 rural jobs in Nova Scotia

Unifor members at Northern Pulp are devastated following the announcement by Premier McNeil that he will not allow enough time for the company to complete the regulatory assessment requested by his own government.

“In all my years of doing this work I have never seen an elected official gut a rural industry, casting tens of thousands into unemployment and financial uncertainty, for the sake of a regulatory timeline,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This is a horrible outcome for our members at Northern Pulp, for thousands of workers connected to the forestry sector and a shameful mark on the McNeil government.”

More than a thousand forestry workers, landowners and contractors and 350 forestry trucks gathered in Halifax on Thursday to share a united message of support for an extension to the Boat Harbour Act, to give time for the additional environmental evaluation to proceed.

“McNeil’s decision is heartbreaking for so many workers who were committed to finding a path forward that would benefit the entire community,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. “The forestry sector across rural Nova Scotia feels abandoned by their premier today and they are facing painful times following the closure of Northern Pulp next month.”

Unifor encourages members and forestry workers to come together to support each other in this difficult time. Unifor continues to work with the company to support workers at the mill through counseling supports and encouragement to use resources provided by the Employee and Family Assistance Program.

“I’m at a loss for words, quite frankly,” said Don McKenzie, President of Unifor Local 440. “If Nova Scotia had given the company a clear path to success, I’m sure we could have done it in the time given. But this Class 1 Assessment has turned into a process none of us at the mill expected. Right now, I’m just concerned about my members and their families. It’s going to be a very difficult Christmas across rural Nova Scotia.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 230 at Northern Pulp and more than 23,000 in the forestry sector nationwide. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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