Many governments in office during life of mill

Published on July 25, 2014

To the editor,
I am writing to respond to the article published on The News website on July 25, "Pictou MLAs say waiting until June 2015 is not good enough."

First, The News must appreciate the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Caucus writing their news articles for them. The practice of reprinting political press releases word for word, I feel, is a detriment to the journalistic integrity of the knowledgeable, capable reporters and contributors of a newspaper that has a long history in our community. 

As a resident of Abercrombie, I am well aware of the poor air quality that we as a county experience. On a personal note, I support the efforts of the Clean the Mill group, as well as the Clean Pictou Air group of local businesses. Access to clean air, water and a healthy environment I feel are basic human rights, or at least should be. 

The Liberal government has had 277 days (as of July 25) to address the array of issues that face our province. The Dec. 24, 1964, edition of this newspaper donned a front page headline that read "Merry Christmas Pictou County." An announcement of a $40M pulp mill being built by Scott Paper was celebrated as a victory. From the day that article was published, 18,111 days have passed, as have many governments of all political stripes. 

Therefore, why is it that our Pictou County MLAs expect this government to move mountains in such a short period of time? When will the company that owns the mill assume some responsibility in addition to the government? Last month a historic agreement was signed by Environment Minister Randy Delorey and the Pictou Landing First Nations. A meeting took place last week with three provincial ministers who visited Pictou to listen to business owners' concerns regarding the pulp mill and poor air quality affecting their businesses, which will be key in determining the government's next steps on the issue. The Pictou County MLAs did not offer any public approval or satisfaction that steps they have asked to be taken, were taken. They will say nothing if not negative.

MLA Pat Dunn says "a competent government would come forward with a plan today and not wait until 2015." With all due respect to former premier and Pictou Centre MLA Dr. John Hamm, was his government incompetent for not addressing Boat Harbour and the pulp mill during his tenure? What about the MacDonald government, which Mr. Dunn served in as a minister?

We all live here. We all breathe the same air. For those two reasons alone, I can't help but to wonder why is it so hard for our elected officials to see this as an opportunity to lead, instead of using the issue solely as ammunition towards the government.

I urge those who continue to engage in mature, thoughtful and engaging discussions and debate around the issue of Northern Pulp to keep fighting for what you believe in and ignore the unnecessary, unhelpful noise. We will live in a better, healthier community because of your efforts. 

Ben MacLean, Abercrombie

President, Pictou West Liberal Association