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Northern Pulp makes plans to close mill –




Northern Pulp and Unifor, the national union that represents 240 of its Pictou County mill workers, voiced deep disappointment with Premier Stephen McNeil’s decision not to extend the Boat Harbour closure deadline.

“Today is a very tough day for those of us at Northern Pulp,” Brian Baarda, chief executive of Paper Excellence Canada, Northern Pulp’s parent company, said at a late-morning news conference Friday at a downtown Halifax hotel.

He said the company would start implementing plans Friday to close the Abercrombie Point mill.

“This decision ensures the closure of Northern Pulp, the devastation of Nova Scotia’s forest industry, the loss of 2,700 rural jobs and a significant impact to another 8,300 forestry jobs across Nova Scotia,” Baarda said.

The premier made the government’s position clear at an earlier news conference.

“There will be no extension,” MacNeil said.

“The company has had five years to get out of Boat Harbour and it is not even close, now it’s decision time.”

Baarda said the company will meet with government early in the new year to talk about what the plant closure will look like. During that conversation, the concept of idling the mill will likely come up, Baarda said, “but we don’t believe that it is possible without continuing to use Boat Harbour.”

‘Five days before Christmas’

“Our thoughts are with our employees, five days before Christmas, we’re going to focus on that,” Baarda said when asked if the company would pursue a lost-earnings claim against the government.

“At this time, for our workforce, we are offering on-site support and counselling to our employees and their families through our employee assistance program,” Baarda said. “Today, we will start the process of delivering layoff and contract-cancellation notices and start implementing plans to close Northern Pulp.”

Baarda cut questions short at the news conference because he was heading to the mill to meet with employees.

Baarda said Northern Pulp had put together an excellent plan based on sound science that showed no meaningful environmental impact from the proposed effluent treatment plant, a plan that represented operational improvement and insured that thousands of forestry workers could remain a vital part of the Nova Scotia economy.

“It also enabled timely closure and remediation of Boat Harbour,” Baarda said. “The premier chose to disregard those facts.”

Baarda blamed the company’s delay in getting its replacement effluent treatment facility plans together on the government.

“It is apparent that Nova Scotia Environment has been unable to provide a definitive process over the last four-and-half years. We have continued to respond to each and every additional request for further science. Our initial investigatory work changed dramatically from seven reports to 68 current individual areas of study. Had Nova Scotia Environment wanted a full environmental assessment from the outset, we would have been prepared to deliver it.”

Baarda said he has great respect for the professionalism and dignity shown by the mill’s workforce throughout the ordeal.

“The people at Northern Pulp have continued to remain focused on the things that matter, delivering on the best safety performance in Paper Excellence, meeting production targets while continuing to protect the environment.”

‘He just decimated rural Nova Scotia’

Linda MacNeil, director of Unifor Atlantic, said it is a sad day for the mill employees and all forestry sector workers in the province.

MacNeil said the premier’s announced $50-million transition fund is not a consolation.

“Let’s put that in perspective,” an angry MacNeil said. “The mill in an annual salary pays out $40 million for 300 employees, $40 million a year. The transition fund, $50 million. That doesn’t include the rest of the forestry sector that is going to be impacted by this irresponsible decision.

“That transition money is basically going to buy bus tickets for employees at the mill to move to another province because, guess what, obviously the premier doesn’t respect those employees or anything to do with rural Nova Scotia because he just decimated rural Nova Scotia.

“If that is the legacy that he wants, he is certainly going to get it.”

MacNeil also took the premier to task for laying blame on the company for not getting its new wastewater treatment facility approved and built in the five years since the Boat Harbour closure was announced.

“The Nova Scotia environment minister and the department have to take some responsibility because there was no clear path going forward,” MacNeil said. “If there had been, it would have been willingly done, that I can ensure, from the company.”

MacNeil said the government decision will not serve the province well in the long term.

“What company is going to look to invest as they see this unfold. Disappointment does not do this justice. Anger, sad, heart-broken and five days before Christmas …”

Baarda offered no comment on the premier’s claim that the company will be on the hook for the $85 million in outstanding loans it owes the province. The Chronicle Herald reported last month that Northern Pulp and an associated company owe the province $85,478,537 in three outstanding loans.


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London officials to Queen's Park: Tighten rules on social gatherings here – London Free Press (Blogs)



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Premier Doug Ford indicated his willingness to grant the request by London officials.

He said his cabinet will discuss requests from mayors and medical officials from other areas of the province to extend restrictions.

“We’re going to be rolling (it) out to other areas across the province from the request of the mayors,” Ford said in Ottawa. “I listen to the medical experts. I’ll base this on the health and science.”

He also promised that his plan to address a possible second wave this fall will be released by the province next week.

Under the province’s enhanced restrictions, the fine for hosting a rule-breaking party starts at $10,000.

Mackie is anticipating the province will expand its gathering size restrictions to include the London-area in time for the weekend.

If the province doesn’t act immediately, the health unit is not ruling out issuing an order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to restrict private gathering sizes, but the move would take up to a week to come into effect, Mackie said.

The decision to issue a Section 22 order would come Monday or Tuesday of next week if the province’s restrictions are not in place, Mackie said.

The health unit has reported 47 new COVID-19 cases, including 39 among Western students, in the last week and declared three outbreaks.

One outbreak is connected to post-secondary students and the downtown party scene, including the bar Lost Love. The second outbreak is linked to a large student party this past weekend that drew “dozens,” Mackie said. The third involved staff at the Walmart store in Hyde Park.

None of the 39 Western students who tested positive have required hospitalization, Mackie said.

The health unit reported 13 new cases Friday, bringing the total number of new cases in the area to 24 over the past two days — nearly the same number reported in the entire first two weeks of September.

For weeks, the daily growth in new London-area cases had held steady at about one to two each day.

The Thursday-Friday case increases are the biggest two-day jump since April 18 and 19, when the health unit reported 17 new cases each day.

“Depending on how we fare over the weekend, this could become the worst stretch of cases in London-Middlesex since the pandemic’s onset,” Mayor Ed Holder said Friday.

“Please wear a mask, physically distance, avoid large crowds. . . . We can do this, we just need more of us to do a little better.”

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Canadian police charged a Tesla owner for sleeping while driving – Engadget




Police in Canada say they recently charged a Tesla Model S owner with driving dangerously for sleeping at his car’s wheel. In July, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) say they responded to a speeding complaint on Highway 2 near Ponoka — a town in Alberta, south of the province’s capital of Edmonton. Those who saw the car report it was traveling faster than 140 kilometers per hour (86MPH), with the front seats “completely reclined,” and both the driver and passenger seemingly asleep. When a police officer found the 2019 Model S and turned on their emergency lights, the vehicle accelerated to 150 kilometers per hour (about 93MPH) before it eventually stopped.

Police initially charged the driver, a 20-year-old man from the province of British Columbia, with speeding and handed him a 24-hour license suspension for driving while fatigued. He was also later charged with dangerous driving and has a court date in December.

It’s unclear how the Model S driver misused Autopilot in the way that they did. The incident occurred before Tesla updated the system to give it the ability to detect speed limit signs using a vehicle’s cameras. However, as The Verge notes, Tesla has said Autopilot will only work when it detects that the driver has their hands on the steering wheel. If that’s not the case, the car will try to get the driver’s attention with visual and audio warnings before disabling Autopilot.

But the fact that drivers can disengage from Autopilot is something that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US has criticized Tesla over repeatedly. In March, the agency published a report that said a Model 3 driver’s overreliance on the system — in a situation it wasn’t designed to handle — led to a deadly crash in Delray Beach, Florida in 2019.

In this latest incident, the RCMP similarly warned against overlying on Autopilot. “Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that — supplemental safety systems,” said Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services. “They are not self-driving systems, they still come with the responsibility of driving.”

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Canadian retail sales slow after surpassing pandemic losses – BNN



Gains for Canadian retailers slowed sharply in July and August, suggesting pent-up demand from prior months has been largely extinguished.

Sales grew 0.6 per cent in July, versus 23 per cent in June and 21 per cent in May, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. Excluding vehicles, receipts unexpectedly dropped 0.4 per cent, versus a forecast gain of 0.5 per cent. Preliminary estimates from the agency show receipts climbed 1.1 per cent in August, suggesting the weaker trend will continue.

The report reinforces warnings that the pace of the recovery will slow in the second half of the year, after a strong V-shaped rebound through the early summer.

“All in all, the numbers imply that retail activity is normalizing after the whipsaw of a huge downturn and recovery,” said Scotiabank economist Brett House in a note.

Core retail sales, or those excluding vehicles and gasoline, dropped 1.2 per cent.

Still, the rebound has been impressive. In July, retail sales were up 2.7 per cent compared with year earlier levels.

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