In every public debate there are at least two sides, so it is not surprising that in Pictou County there are voices in support of the mill owned by Northern Pulp and voices who would like to see the mill closed down.
At its essence this is a debate that breaks down into economy versus ecology. There are good-paying jobs in a region of the province that has seen many good-paying jobs disappear. The mill no longer employs as many people as it used to, but it is still a source of employment for a large number of residents who work either directly or indirectly for the operation.
Those who would like to see the mill closed, point to the environmental damage it has done and continues to do. They point out that tourism would flourish if not for the blot on the landscape and the particulate matter in the air.
You may disagree with either argument, but both are solid. In such circumstances, it is in the public’s interest that respectful debate take place – a free exchange of ideas. When ideas compete, generally the better idea wins out by swaying public opinion and. finally, often slowly, government policy.
Recently I went to buy journalist Joan Baxter’s new book, The Mill, at Coles bookstore in Highland Square Mall. I was told that Coles had cancelled the book signing because supporters of the mill had threatened to disrupt the event.
It was once said, “Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are.” If you’re a supporter of the mill, be aware there are bullies among you. You have a strong argument that these bullies are undermining by trying to prevent the public from hearing the views of an accomplished journalist. That’s typically a strategy of those who are losing confidence in their own argument.
I did buy the book and I will read it knowing that there are people who are frightened that the facts it contains cannot be countered with reasonable debate. I would encourage everyone to buy the book and keep the lines of communication open.