Prime minister hopeful Kim Campbell infamously said 20 years ago that election campaigns are not the time to discuss issues.
Her comment was largely misinterpreted – though not surprisingly. At any rate, election campaigns are a great time for voters to press issues. The Clean Up the Pictou County Pulp Mill Facebook group is finding that out.
Matt Gunning, one of the originators, has met with two of the party leaders to discuss concerns: Conservative Jamie Baillie and Liberal Stephen McNeil. He is optimistic – through communication with Pictou West MLA Charlie Parker – that he’ll also have a session with Premier Darrell Dexter.
Gunning and the Facebook group express the conviction that the emissions from Northern Pulp represent not only an intermittent nuisance due to odour, but that the associated toxins and particulate are a health hazard. They bring attention to continuing flow of industrial waste and its effect on Boat Harbour. They want a cleanup.
Parker said in a letter to the editor this week that a directive has been issued by the Department of the Environment to the company to clean up the problem with particulates in the emissions. In the works is a plan to install a new precipitator.
The suspicion from the public is that even with political pressure on the pulp mill, the same old story continues – they feel punitive consequences are in order when the company exceeds acceptable levels.
The public is wary of politicians tippy-toeing around dirty issues involving large companies because of the jobs and economic clout involved. No matter which party forms government next month, it would be naïve to believe the finish line has been reached.
This issue has gathered enough steam that it’s become well known not just at home but across the province, and even other parts of Canada. Keeping the pressure up will have to continue after the election, to remind the ultimate victor of what was promised and see that action does ensue.