Nova Scotia

More senators join call for federal Northern Pulp review

The letter urging a federal environmental assessment of the pulp mill's effluent treatment plan comes as the company and union launch a campaign to drum up support.

Letter from 19 senators comes as company and union launch campaign

A protest was held July 6 in Pictou to protest Northern Pulp's effluent pipe plan. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Nineteen Canadian senators have signed a letter calling on the Trudeau government to order a full federal environmental assessment of the Northern Pulp plan to discharge treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait

It comes as the Pictou County mill and its union launch their own campaign to drum up support for the company's effluent treatment project.

The senators' Nov. 28 letter to federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says a Nova Scotia provincial government assessment is insufficient, given the potential risks to fisheries and tourism in neighbouring Maritime provinces.

"But we submit the Nova Scotia government is in a conflict of interest. They are simultaneously promoting the project while at the same time claiming they are committed to protecting the environment," the letter states.

Review call led by 17 independent senators

Seventeen of the senators are independent or non-affiliated, as in the case of New Brunswicker David Adams Richards.

Liberal Percy Downe from Prince Edward Island is the lone Liberal senator and Fabian Manning from Newfoundland and Labrador is the lone Conservative.

Northern Pulp owner Paper Excellence wants to discharge about 70-million litres a day of treated effluent from its kraft pulp mill at Abercrombie Point into the Northumberland Strait near Caribou, N.S.

The company has been ordered to close its existing treatment system at Boat Harbour in January 2020.

Campaign to support the mill launched

Northern Pulp has launched a letter writing campaign urging supporters of the mill to lobby Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil for an extension. McNeil and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin have repeatedly said there will be no extension.

The Northern Pulp Cares campaign is joined by six major sawmills in Nova Scotia: Freeman Lumber, Elmsdale Lumber, Lewis Mouldings, LG MacGillivary & Son Lumbering, Taylor Lumber and Ledwidge Lumber.

"The more voices we have now, the louder our collective voice will be in helping to guide our government to well-informed decisions about an industry that WE ALL rely on," the new website says.

Unifor Canada, which represents 200 unionized workers at the mill, has launched its own campaign aimed at preserving jobs at the mill.

"Since Northern Pulp was purchased by new owners in 2011, there have been millions invested to clean and modernize the mill," says the union's petition, which calls on the McNeil government to do more to bring the community in Pictou County together and to make sure the new effluent treatment facility is built.

"Unifor members at the mill want the best for their community and are working hard to make Northern Pulp a world-class facility."