HALIFAX – The Province of Nova Scotia won’t be bailing out Northern Pulp Premier Stephen McNeil said Thursday, but Northern Pulp never wanted them to, Don Breen, general manager of the Pictou County mill, says.
McNeil announced at the Halifax Club Thursday afternoon that his government won’t make a financial commitment to the Pictou County pulp mill, in spite of any request for one.
“If the business model they have does not work for them, it is not the responsibility of the people of Nova Scotia to bail it out.”
However, Breen said the only thing they asked for was access to Crown lands.
“We never asked for a bailout,” he said, adding that they only had “informal discussions.”
Breen went on to say they’re always in discussions with the government.
He noted that they can fix issues with the mill, but need more wood fibre.
He also said that they didn’t receive any official notice from the province regarding McNeil’s comments.
McNeil wasn’t available for an interview before press time.
However, his press secretary, Laurel Munroe, said Northern Pulp was looking for $27 to 30 million for an oxygen delineation project as well as 500,000 metric tonnes of fibre from Crown land.
McNeil said they would be honouring the previous government’s commitment of 125 metric tonnes.
He went on to say that the remainder of their fibre will be put towards other products, and that the province will be putting money into innovation to build up the forestry sector.
Breen has said they’ve been looking for access to the former Bowater Mersey lands since the government took possession of them in 2012.
“It’s critical to our operation,” he said.
The Progressive Conservative caucus issued a release later in the afternoon, questioning the premier’s comments.
“Despite the premier’s statements, conflicting media reports show the McNeil Liberals may be playing fast and loose with the truth. The Liberals have yet to confirm whether or not the mill has actually asked for a bailout.”
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