PICTOU – So far, the score for Matt Gunning and the Clean Up the Pictou County Pulp Mill Facebook group is two out of three party leaders.
Capitalizing on election time in Nova Scotia, Gunning has had face time and meetings with PC leader Jamie Baillie and Liberal leader Stephen McNeil regarding emissions and effluent from Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation.
On Sept. 19, Gunning met with Baillie and the three PC candidates in Pictou County at his brother musician Dave Gunning’s home for about 45 minutes.
“It went well. We had a good chat and expressed our side of things,” said Gunning. “(The candidates and leader) were certainly listening and we feel there’s room to work with them.”
In 2008 when the PC party was in government, then Environment Minister Murray Scott, promised that the Boat Harbour treatment facility would be closed, cleaned and another location for the mill’s effluent would be secured.
With the NDP defeat of the PC government in 2009, it has become a moot promise.
“There is no one government responsible for Boat Harbour,” said Gunning. “All of them have had a part in it and it’s going to be a monumental task to get it cleaned up.”
He met with Liberal candidate Glennie Langille and leader McNeil on Sept. 18 after talking informally about a meeting with Langille at the Terry Fox Run in Pictou.
“What I understood was going to be a quick handshake… turned into a private meeting with Stephen and Glennie in his mobile office,” said Gunning. “He appeared to be well aware of the issues.”
After the meeting, McNeil presented Gunning with a letter to the group expressing his support and what his party would do regarding Northern Pulp if elected. McNeil wrote that a Liberal government will “insist on aggressive monitoring of the emissions from the plant” and that “a system for reporting this information be put in place.”
While Gunning has yet to meet with NDP leader Darrell Dexter, he’s remaining optimistic that he’ll get a face-to-face with the premier.
“I was speaking with Charlie Parker, a few days ago, and he’s passionate about this, the Facebook page meeting with mill officials,” he said. “But I’ve told him and others that we will meet with the mill when we have the support of politicians of all stripes.”
Parker has reassured Gunning that Dexter will be meeting with him before Oct. 8.
When the Facebook page was formed, he had no idea that it would amass the nearly 3,300 members it has today.
Gunning and other members met with Department of Environment officials in late August with almost 60 questions. The answers to these questions should be posted soon.
“It’s really any day now,” said Gunning. “The questions have been answered but they’ve yet to send it to us.”
The answers will be posted to the Facebook group Clean up the Pictou County Pulp Mill when they become available.
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn