Survey crews retained by Northern Pulp will not be returning to Pictou Harbor until plans around safety and RCMP response are hashed-out.
“We have to complete some logistics, such as fully understanding the safety measures as well as law enforcement,” said Kathy Cloutier, director of corporate communications for Paper Excellence Canada.
Northern Pulp won its injunction against the protesters on Dec 18, but there is still no exact date as to when survey work will recommence in the Northumberland Strait.
“We’ll deal with that when the time comes,” said Allan McCarthy, with the Strait Fishermen’s Association. “There’s no structured plan in place right now.”
McCarthy is one of seven individuals named in a court affidavit sworn on Dec.3 by Colin Toole, an employee of CSR GeoSurveys Limited. Back in April, Northern Pulp retained CSR to survey the undersea route for the first proposed effluent treatment pipe.
Outlined by Toole in the affidavit are multiple incidents described by CSR crew as being “intimidating”. Toole alleges that individuals threatened to “kill” crew members of the SeaQuest, a six-metre fibreglass vessel outfitted with survey equipment.
According to the sworn statements made by an employee with CSR GeoSurveys Limited, intimidating incidents began on April 11 when SeaQuest was running its first survey line out of Pictou Harbour.
Two boats approached at high speed, and circled the SeaQuest multiple times while their pilots shouted at the surveyors. A similar incident happened on April 19 when another fishing vessel passed within 10 metres of the SeaQuest’s bow at high speed.
Videos collaborating the survey crewman’s account were also submitted as evidence.
In Nov. 2018 Toole also alleges an individual named in the affidavit as Edwin Donald Shaw had told surveyors: “We are great hunters in Pictou Harbour. If you come back to Pictou Harbour you are going to be gone. We are real good shots.”
“That’s an allegation,” said McCarthy. “I don’t think it was proven in court. We will deal with that when the court date comes.”
“Right now we have three active criminal code investigations resulting from complaints over survey work with Northern Pulp,” said the district commander for the Pictou County RCMP, Staff Sgt. Addie Maccallum. “These are on-going investigations and we’ll look into those fully and completely. If anything comes up in the future, we’ll address them in the same way.”
For their part, the RCMP says that the responsibility for a safety plan for future survey crews falls to Northern Pulp.
“For this interim injunction, if there was anything to be reported as a breach of a court order we’d investigate it as a criminal offence,” said Maccallum.
“Public safety is obviously our number one concern, and while we respect everyone’s right to peaceful assembly there’s obviously things that police won’t tolerate,” he said. “That would be any acts of violence, criminal offences or intimidation by any parties.”