The province’s new minister of environment, a former forestry technician and rookie cabinet minister, stopped short of calling himself an environmentalist.
“I consider myself as someone who understands the environment quite well,” said Clare-Digby MLA Gordon Wilson, shortly after being sworn into the role at Government House on Wednesday, replacing Margaret Miller.
“My life has been one where I’ve grown up not only on the water but in the woods... I’ve worked very closely with the Department of Environment and worked with a lot of environmental agencies in my work with the Department of Natural Resources.”
Premier Stephen McNeil made the appointment following Miller’s resignation from the post to focus on her constituency work and recover from recent arm surgery.
The Hants East MLA had previously announced that she would not reoffer in the next provincial election.
McNeil said he’s proud of the work Miller accomplished in her role and that Wilson has proven to be a worthy candidate, pointing to the “tremendous” job he’s done as caucus chair and in different legislative committees.
“Gordon has demonstrated his capacity to handle difficult files and this file, like many, will have many moving parts,” said McNeil.
Wilson’s now responsible for several high-profile files, including Norther Pulp. The Pictou County mill has until Jan. 31, 2020 to close its Boat Harbour treatment facility. The province has yet to back the mill’s highly controversial proposal to run millions of litres of treated wastewater to the Northumberland Strait. Like Miller, Wilson isn’t willing to bend on extending the deadline to shut down the current treatment facility.
“The direction has been given to Northern Pulp to step up and move towards getting those terms addressed,” said Wilson.
“Obviously, Northern Pulp is one of the bigger files (I have),” said Wilson. “Certainly, I will put a lot of attention towards that. The number one priority is to understand all the nuances.”
Wilson was elected in 2013 and has served on several committees, including stints as vice-chair of law amendments and public accounts committees. Before entering politics he also served as deputy CAO for the Municipality of the District of Digby.