Plea for premier to abide by legislation

Opinion

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was sent to Premier Stephen McNeil prior to Northern Pulp’s announcement that it would not meet its deadline for the construction of the effluent pipe into the Strait.)

To Premier McNeil:

We are writing because we are disappointed about your comment that Northern Pulp will have to stop piping their effluent into Boat Harbour UNLESS the people of Pictou Landing First Nation change their minds. This opens the door for the mill proponents to try to use whatever tactics they choose to persuade Pictou Landing First Nation to allow them to continue to pipe effluent into Boat Harbour if this becomes necessary in order to keep the mill open. We want to be clear here that we do not think that the mill’s plans to partially treat waste water on site and then pipe it into the Northumberland Strait is a solution to the waste water problem. We applaud the blockade of the survey boat by fishers. However, if they succeed in preventing the pipe from being built, the mill may want to extend the deadline so they can keep piping effluent into Boat Harbour for several more years.

Premier McNeil, in the past, government officials themselves who were acting in the interests of the pulp mill in Abercrombie have used some, to say the least, unethical tactics to gain access to Boat Harbour. In 1965, two officials from the Nova Scotia Water Authority, Mr. Wigglesworth and Dr. Bates, showed Chief Francis and Councillor Sapier of Pictou Landing First Nation a sewage lagoon near Saint John, NB which looked clear and smelled fine because, although they did not tell them this at the time, it was not yet in use. The Water Authority people indicated that it was a treatment facility for the local pulp mill’s effluent and would be comparable to the quality of water they could expect in Boat Harbour if they gave their permission to the mill to pipe its effluent there.

When the mill’s waste started to flow into Boat Harbour and made it into a toxic mess and suffocated the fish, of course people who lived nearby or frequented the area were upset. Since then several promises have been made by Nova Scotia governments to close the “treatment facility” and clean up Boat Harbour. All of these promises have been broken. We appeal to you, Premier McNeil, to PLEASE not break this latest promise. This promise has legislation behind it that your government passed. Please abide by your own legislation unconditionally! Even better, please stop pumping money into this mill and close it down. The earth will heave a sigh of relief if that happens.

Catherine Hughes and June Daley near Kajipukwek or River John