To the Editor:
A recent opinion piece by Robert MacLellan entitled: “Northern Pulp book issue definitely was not censorship” was printed in a local paper — Dec. 13/17 edition, I think. To quote from the submission: “The book by Joan Baxter is a rushed attempt to promote a narrative, not a search for truth. It seeks to inflame, not inform. As such, anyone who promotes it is complicit in poisoning the public debate.” I thought that this opinion piece would set about establishing how the “aggressive” nature of calls to the local bookstore in New Glasgow did not constitute censorship. Rather than focus on censorship Mr. MacLellan proceeded to duplicate utterances from the communications department at Northern Pulp, and he proceeded to create his own narrative.
I purchased Baxter’s book at the Art of Divination in Stellarton. In the 10 minutes or so that I was there, 10 books were sold. I have read the book and I share the accolades of it as offered by Stephen Kimber and Linda Pannozzo; the book is well written and very well documented. I shall suggest that another book is well worth reading, and it is entitled STUPID TO THE LAST DROP by William Marsden. Related directly to pulp mill effluent and attempts to capture the narrative are the following pages — 102-106, 108-110, 112-116, 187 and 194. Here you will find an account of how the Alberta government under the premiership of Don Getty and with the assistance of Getty’s colleague, Ralph Klein, tried to fast-track the Al-Pac Mill (a Mitsubishi Company). Opposing the fast-tracking was David Schindler, a renowned scientist and academic. Schindler was treated as a nuisance by Getty and Klein, and they tried to say that Schindler should not be taken seriously. That was the Getty-Klein narrative. Schindler was instrumental in having the Al-Pac Mill, when it came onstream in 1993, be one of the cleanest mills of its kind. According to Marsden, the mill remains one of the cleanest to this day.
Mr. MacLellan offered links to articles. First, an April 23, 2009 article in THE COAST by University of King’s College journalism students entitled “Boat Harbour: On Toxic Pond”. In the article are references to the lies told by those who pushed for the establishment of a mill at Abercrombie Point — lies told by government agents and mill proponents. The public knows very well what those lies were, and also knows what “complicity” means. When one tells lies and the other swears to them, then, that’s complicity.
A second link took the reader to a story posted by Aaron Beswick, Herald reporter, and it is dated June 10, 2014. Beswick wrote about the “leak” that was actually a ‘spill’. He quoted the Environment Minister at the time, Randy Delorey. Suffice it to say that the comments made by the Minister were not enlightening. Does this narrative sound familiar?
Finally, a link to a post by Parker Donham and the date of Donham’s story was July 22, 2014. He talks in this post of the disgusting history of the mill and of its impact on the air, water and soil. Donham goes on to talk about the co-conspirator in helping to spread the blight, and he points the finger directly at the weak and ineffective regulator. Just to be clear, that regulator is the Province of Nova Scotia — i.e. us! Donham further talked about the relief that would be felt if the mill ceased operation and the messes cleaned up.
There are better ways to handle the effluent from the pulp mill at Abercrombie Point, and it is strong advocacy for these alternatives that will be a large part of the debate going forward. In the debate there are no ‘poisons’; we know where the poisons lie. The debate is one of positions, and my position is that I support those whose sign reads “No pulp waste in our water.”