Christmas came early for Pictou Landing First Nation. Premier Stephen McNeil announced there will be no extension to the Boat Harbour Act. This means the effluent treatment plant for the Northern Pulp mill will shut down on January 31st, 2020.
Premier McNeil says the closure of the treatment plant will almost certainly mean the entire mill, which has operated in the Pictou area since 1967, will have to shut down. As a result the premier announced a 50 million dollar fund will be set up to provide assistance to workers affected by the mill’s closure.
“Thank you Stephen McNeil for doing the right thing,” said Interim Green Party Leader, Jo-Ann Roberts, “your decision took leadership and courage. It is a victory not only for the Pictou Landing First Nation but for all those who marched, protested, wrote letters and persisted. It sends a strong message that ending environmental racism can be the beginning of a more sustainable future. As Greens we will urge the Federal government to provide the support needed to help workers both from the mill and in the forestry sector make the transition to the new economy of tomorrow.”
Elizabeth May, former leader of the Green Party and a strong voice for many years for an end to the Boat Harbour treatment plant said today "I am so very relieved that this subsidy-sucking, polluting mill, with its legacy of toxic contamination, is finally closing. Residents of Pictou can, literally, breathe easy.It is appropriate that the provincial government has set aside $50 million for mill workers. The damage done to the fishery, indigenous rights, the environment and human health over more than a half century is beyond cost.”
May also acknowledged the hard work and patience of the Pictou Landing First Nation and its allies. “Chief Andrea Paul and the members of the Pictou Landing First Nation have been steadfast. They fought for the Boat Harbour Act and then waited and watched for five years as the company which owned the mill did nothing. I want to thank them and all of the people and organizations who have supported them, especially, Friends of Northumberland Strait, the Fishermen’s associations from New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia, the government of PEI, and the investigative work done by author and journalist, Joan Baxter.”
Roberts added that she hopes other provinces are encouraged by the decision of the McNeil government today and will show the same courage and vision in the future when it comes to standing with First Nations and supporting a livable future for generations to come.