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LETTER: Boat Harbour decision must reflect the will of the people

Don’t let writing letters to the editor become a dying art.
Don’t let writing letters to the editor become a dying art.

Dear Hon. Minister Wilson, 

I write to you as a resident of Pictou County from 1960 through to 2015,when we relocated to Halifax, but continuing to still own a cottage property at 27 Hill Top Lane on Caribou Island for a period of more than 10 years.

My intervention is driven by the public activity on all sides of the Effluent Treatment method at Boat Harbor and the discussions swirling around the consideration of a different method of dealing with this long festering environmental blight on Nova Scotia and on Pictou County in particular.  This issue is NOT a partisan political one, it is a people issue and, in my opinion not one that should be decided on the basis of the power of the lobbyists nor the self interest of the corporate agenda.

I wish to pre-empt my specific points and to share with you and the Hon. Stephen MacNeil Government, by a brief outline of my public involvement on this issue for the express information so as to reinforce the 'people issue' dimension and to articulate why this is so critical to the people of Nova Scotia and Pictou County in particular.

I am former MLA and Minister of Government from 1977 through to 1993 representing the Constituency of Pictou Centre and very familiar with the history surrounding the arrival of Scott Paper in the mid 60's through the efforts of Industrial Estates Ltd. and specifically the roles of  the late Frank H. Sobey and Robert Manuge who were designated by the R. L. Stanfield government to seek out industries to locate in Nova Scotia, specifically those areas that were, or were on the verge of becoming

“Economic basket cases” because of industrial dislocation and or termination  or severe downturns of their operations in areas such as Pictou County. It cannot be denied that the arrival of companies such as Scott Paper and Michelin Tire to name but two of many who were lured here through incentives (some in hindsight would be considered overly generous) but those were different times and different attitudes and to make my point the predominant reaction to the 'obnoxious and undoubtedly unhealthy Scott Paper emissions was the smell of money and jobs!

Translating into high paying jobs and steady employment with a secure future with good benefits of health plans and retirement benefits previously almost unheard of in that area, It meant employees could build a future for themselves and their families with improved standard of living and further education opportunities for their children. New houses sprung up like 'mushrooms' and retail businesses flourished and resulting jobs created. The general feeling, with the odd exceptions felt was we could put up with the stink from Scott in exchange for the instant prosperity and hope and confidence for the future that was occurring, and being felt across the community. 

But let me back up and address the 'incentives offered' to these companies and specifically again to Scott Paper. Namely, that the 'piece de resistance' offered was the Province assuming responsibility for the effluent management system that would be needed. Boat Harbor Lagoon was that result and all that has resulted since to the residents of the immediate area, the First Nations people, and the harm done to the physical environment and to the health off all Pictonians is the price the people have paid as the incentive to Scott Paper.  Hindsight being 20/20 vision, it is easier to look in the rear view mirror now in 2019 and see what could have and should have been done and the technology pursued to prevent what ensued since. 

All governments of all political stripes, regardless of the best of intentions have made and continue to make errors and mistakes that leave a legacy that has to be dealt with by future generations of governments, and accept the responsibilities for those wrongs and correct them using modern technologies now available across the world to do so, and where industry and the environment can coexist for the good of all in a productive, friendly and clean manner. No less is acceptable!

What the broad community of Pictou County and I'm sure many if not all Nova Scotians want NOT to happen is that another error in judgement or a mistake forms part of the solution! What they do NOT want as well is a behind closed doors decision being made without total and unequivocal transparency, no matter who the light of transparency shines on. 

Only you and the Stephen MacNeil government can assure 'your employers'- The People of Nova Scotia- that you hold and adhere to that responsibility to the highest degree of assurance, and in keeping with the fundamental axiom of democracy as a "Government of the People, by the People, and for the People."
The solution lies totally in your hands and may your decision reflect the will of the people.


Respectfully,
John A. (Jack) MacIsaac
Halifax 

CC: Honourable Stephen McNeil
CC: Sean Fraser, MP Central Nova                                           
CC: MLA’s Tim Houston, Pat Dunn and Karla MacFarlane

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