Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has sided against a pulp mill’s plea for a lifeline in a move that has bitterly split his province, earning praise from environmental, fisheries and Indigenous groups, but angering many in the province’s forestry sector.
The Northern Pulp mill in Pictou had been asking for an extension on a provincially imposed deadline to stop dumping contaminated wastewater in Boat Harbour, next to the Pictou Landing First Nation, in what many have called one of the province’s worst examples of pollution linked to racism.
As a result, the mill – one of the largest operators in the province – is now set to close at the end of January. The company’s owners say that will mean the elimination of 300 jobs at the mill and an estimated 2,400 more in the forestry sector.
Mr. McNeill, who also pledged $50-million to help affected forestry workers make that transition to new jobs, said his hand was forced by a company that appeared to be unwilling to modernize the mill’s effluent-treatment facility. Concerns about the mill’s wastewater, contaminated with toxic heavy metals, were first raised in the 1960s.
The Premier told the company in 2015 that it had five years to fix the problem. The mill’s owners have showed that they did not take that deadline seriously, he said.
“The company has had five years and any number of opportunities to get out of Boat Harbour, and at this point, we’re nowhere close to that,” the Premier said Friday. “Northern Pulp has had a number of chances to get this right. And yet, here we are.”
The decision was applauded by the Pictou Landing First Nation, which for years has been calling for an end to the mill’s effluent dumping into Boat Harbour, a heavily polluted lagoon that is adjacent to the reserve. First Nation leaders say the pollution in Boat Harbour – historically used for fishing, clam digging and hunting – was causing chronic illness and compromised their access to traditional food sources.
“Premier Stephen McNeil had a very difficult decision to make today, a decision that will affect many people in our region, but I feel he made the correct decision,“ Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul said. “I am grateful that he has decided to put an end to the pollution and providing an opportunity for us to heal.”
“Cleaning up Boat Harbour is all my people have ever wanted and Premier Stephen McNeil kept his promise and, on behalf of my community, we are thankful.”
However, not everyone was celebrating the Premier’s announcement. Those in the province’s forestry sector said it was a dark day that would hurt family-run sawmills, kill thousands of jobs and scare off investment in Nova Scotia.
“We’re very disappointed,” said Jeff Bishop, executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, an industry association. “This is a decision that will be felt across the province, from one end to the other, but most predominantly in rural Nova Scotia, where people are already suffering. It’s yet another blow to one of the few remaining areas where people can work in rural communities.”
The $50-million for laid-off forestry workers pledged by the Premier is a “drop in the bucket” compared with the $20-billion in economic activity the sector brings to Nova Scotia, Mr. Bishop said. Northern Pulp bought woodchips from nearly every sawmill in the province, so there are few in the industry who will not be affected, he said.
Environmental groups, meanwhile, said Northern Pulp had multiple chances to deal with the effluent issue in a way that met government requirements.
“Premier McNeil made a courageous decision,” said James Gunvaldsen Klaassen of Ecojustice. “He did the right thing for Pictou Landing First Nation, for the vulnerable environment of the Northumberland Strait and those who make their living from it.”
Jill Graham-Scanlan, president of Friends of the Northumberland Strait, said the Premier was correcting an “injustice” that had dragged on against the people of Pictou Landing First Nation for five decades, and said the job losses lie at the feet of Northern Pulp’s owners.
“While we rejoice at this decision, our sympathy is with those who face job loss and unknown changes in their industry,” she said.
A spokesperson for the federal Employment Ministry said that the government has already reached out to the province to offer assistance to displaced workers.
”We know that today’s decision by the Government of Nova Scotia and the closure of this mill will have a very real impact on workers in Nova Scotia and the Atlantic region, especially during this holiday season – and we are thinking of them and their families at this difficult time,” Ashley Michnowski said.
5 things to know on CTVNews.ca for Friday, September 18, 2020: CRA cyberattacks, second shutdown, children's health – CTV News
Canada has surpassed 140,000 total cases of COVID-19, with 9,200 associated deaths. Here’s what else you need to know to start your day.
1. CRA cyberattacks: In a major update on a series of credential-stuffing attacks on government websites including the Canada Revenue Agency, the country’s top information officer now says that “suspicious activities” have been found on 48,500 CRA user accounts.
2. Second shutdown: As COVID-19 cases begin to rise again, Canadian politicians and health officials are warning that parts of the country may soon enter a second shutdown. But experts say it won’t look like Canada’s first go-round back in March.
3. Children’s health: Parents and children’s health advocates worry that the thousands of delayed or cancelled pediatric procedures due to COVID-19 will have a permanent impact on Canadian children.
4. New COVID-19 test: B.C.’s top health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday researchers have developed a new method of testing that’s non-invasive and can be done without the assistance of a health care professional.
5. Four eyes: Researchers in China have observed a curious link in one of the more specific COVID-19 studies to come out of this pandemic: hospitalized coronavirus patients were less likely to wear glasses than the average population.
One more thing…
Extreme weather: A new satellite image from NASA shows the West Coast of the U.S. and parts of Canada covered in smoke from growing wildfires while Hurricane Sally makes landfall in the Gulf Coast and several other hurricanes converge in the Atlantic Ocean.
At the open: TSX jumps on strong retail sales data – The Globe and Mail
Canada’s main stock index rose on Friday as data showing a rise in retail sales and an uptick in house prices helped offset fears of prolonged economic recovery as coronavirus cases rise globally.
At 9:33 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 51.34 points, or 0.32%, at 16,298.06.
Canadian retail sales in July rose by 0.6% and are now higher than they were before the coronavirus pandemic struck, Statistics Canada said on Friday, adding that August sales probably gained 1.1% on the month.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast retail sales would increase by 1.0% from June, when trade jumped by 22.7% as restrictions imposed to fight the outbreak were removed.
“The data continue to suggest that the pace of growth seen in June wasn’t sustained early in the third quarter,” said Royce Mendes of CIBC Economics.
Sales grew in six of the 11 subsectors, with motor vehicles and parts contributing the most. Gas sales also posted gains.
The Nasdaq rose at the open on Friday, shaking off a two-day decline in heavyweight technology stocks, while worries about rising coronavirus cases and a patchy economic recovery weighed on the S&P 500 and Dow.
The Nasdaq Composite gained 63.17 points, or 0.58%, to 10,973.45 at the opening bell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 37.11 points, or 0.13%, at the open to 27,864.87, while the S&P 500 opened higher by just 0.37 points, or flat, at 3,357.38.
Wall Street’s three main indexes bounced earlier this week as investors bet on a loose monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, but gains petered out in the absence of firm details on the central bank’s stimulus plan.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have also come under pressure from investors rotating out of high-flying tech-related stocks and into industrial and transportation firms.
“The market’s in a vacuum right now,” said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.
“Anytime you have news or perception that things are going to be delayed or (you have a) slow growth economy, those (technology-related) stocks get bid. You’ll get these technical bounce days when coronavirus cases spike up and money will move back into tech.”
Oil prices were mixed on Friday after Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar said a blockade on Libyan oil exports would be lifted for one month, countering more bullish signals from an OPEC meeting on Thursday.
Brent crude was down 17 cents at $43.13 a barrel by 1321 GMT while U.S. oil futures ticked up 6 cents to $41.03.
The benchmarks were still set for weekly gains after Hurricane Sally cut U.S. production, Saudi Arabia pressed allies to stick to production quotas and banks including Goldman Sachs predicted a supply deficit.
Pre-blockade Libya was producing around 1.2 million bpd, compared with just over 100,000 bpd now. It is unclear how quickly Libya could ramp up production.
Earlier, Goldman Sachs predicted a market deficit of 3 million barrels per day (bpd) by the fourth quarter and reiterated its target for Brent to reach $49 by the end of the year and $65 by the third quarter of 2021.
Swiss bank UBS also pointed to the possibility of undersupply, forecasting Brent would rise to $45 a barrel in the fourth quarter and to $55 by mid-2021.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, are cutting output by 7.7 million bpd and stressed at a meeting on Thursday that it would take action against members not complying with the deal.
“We think (OPEC+) will put on hold plans to taper the cut down to 5.8 million bpd … when the entire group convenes again in December,” RBC analysts said.
Saudi Arabia said an earlier meeting was possible if oil prices fell alongside demand because of a second wave of coronavirus cases.
“The market now feels the ground more stable to maintain $40+ price levels,” said Rystad’s Head of Oil Markets Bjornar Tonhaugen.
Suspicious activity found on 48,000 CRA accounts after cyberattacks: treasury board – CBC.ca
The Treasury Board of Canada says it has uncovered suspicious activities on more than 48,000 Canada Revenue Agency accounts following cyberattacks in July and August.
The treasury says the previously announced attacks targeted CRA accounts and GCKey, an online portal through which Canadians access employment insurance and immigration services.
Attackers used a method called credential stuffing, which takes advantage of people who reuse usernames and passwords across multiple platforms that may have been previously hacked.
The treasury says GCKey was not compromised, but it has revoked 9,300 credentials for its system and is contacting those users in hopes of blocking subsequent attacks.
Canadians who receive a revocation message can register for new credentials or make use of the SecureKey Concierge, which lets users sign in to 269 government services through partners, such as major banks.
The treasury says the RCMP’s investigation into the attacks is still ongoing and affected departments have been in contact with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to provide updates on what personal information has been compromised.
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