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What it all means: the closure of Northern Pulp Mill, the future of forestry, and an act of reconciliation – Halifax Examiner

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Northern Pulp Mill at night. Photo courtesy of Tony DeCoste Photo-Video

The Boat Harbour Act will be enforced as of January 31, 2020,” announced Premier Stephen McNeil this morning. “Northern Pulp will be ordered to stop pumping effluent into Boat Harbour. And let me be clear: there will be no extension.

With that, McNeil upheld his promise to the Pictou Landing First Nation that Boat Harbour would no longer be polluted by the mill, and that remediation of Boat Harbour will begin next year.

In response, Northern Pulp announced that it will begin issuing layoff notices today, and will shut the mill completely in January.

McNeil placed the blame for the present situation, and for the impending mill closure, directly onto Northern Pulp. He said:

The mill now known as Northern Pulp has been pumping effluent into Boat Harbour for decades. Many governments have told the mill and its various owners that polluting needed to stop and that the old treatment system needed to be replaced with a new and modern facility. That has not happened. Year after year, and decade after decade, the mill has continued to pump effluent into Boat Harbor.

In 2015, our government passed legislation known as the Boat Harbour Act. That legislation gave Northern Pulp five years to get an environmental assessment and to start constructing a new cleaner operation.

First, the company filed an environmental assessment which was incomplete and did not include enough scientific information. The company was then asked to file a focused report. The regulator determined that Northern Pulp provided some of the scientific evidence required, but not enough to allow construction to begin. And now the company is being asked for a third time to file yet another report, an environmental assessment report, which will take at least two years.

Look at the history. The company has had five years and a number of opportunities to get out of Boat Harbour. And at this point, we are not even close to doing that. The company has put us all in a very difficult position. And now it is decision time. And this is one of the hardest decisions that we as a government have had to make. The commitment I made to clean up Boat Harbor was a serious one and not something our government did lightly. Many governments before us said they would clean it up, but did not. We will not repeat that pattern.

They’ve had five years to do the right thing and I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this and I’m disappointed, to say the least.

At a second press conference held immediately after McNeil’s press conference, Brian Baarda, who is CEO of Northern Pulp’s parent company, Paper Excellence Canada, blamed not Northern Pulp, but the Nova Scotia Department of Environment for the impending mill closure. He said:

Northern Pulp put together an excellent plan informed by third party subject matter experts based on sound science that showed no meaningful environmental impact, represented significant operational improvements, and ensured Nova Scotia’s forest sector and the thousands of employees could remain a vital part of this economy. 

It also enabled timely closure and remediation of Boat Harbour. The premier chose to disregard those facts. It is apparent that Nova Scotia Environment has long been unable to provide a definitive process over the last four and a 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.

The claim that Northern Pulp put together an “excellent plan” based on “sound science” is contradicted by the evidence.

  1. In March 2019, then environment minister Margaret Miller found 19 key deficiencies in the Northern Pulp registration documents. Hence the request for the Focus Report.
  1. Then the Focus Report was panned by federal scientists and by the many independent ones engaged by PLFN, Friends of the Northumberland Strait, and the fishermen’s association … and a long list of others that were submitted to NSE. (See here for a fuller explanation.)
  1. Because the Focus Report was, as McNeil said, incomplete, and missing so much information required by the very clear Terms of Reference, Northern Pulp was asked to do a full environmental assessment. If it had done a decent job the first time, this would not have happened. And it should have been able to do the science right, given that NP was given $6 million from NS taxpayers for the effluent treatment facility design and environmental assessment process.
  1. So to pretend that the process was not clear, or that Northern Pulp would have done a full environmental assessment if it had been asked to, is misleading and disingenuous. The process is perfectly clear. And the company was given a break when the project was subject to the shorter Class I EA … and still it failed to submit the studies and information needed. It is the fault of Northern Pulp itself that it is now being asked for the full EA report.

Asked about $85 million in outstanding loans still owed the province by Northern Pulp, McNeil said “I fully expect that to be paid.”

The same question was asked of Brian Baarda, the Paper Excellence CEO. “Our focus today is not on those type of aspects,” said Baarda. “Our focus will be on getting back to the mill, talking to the employees that have been devastated by this news.”

Baarda ended the press conference soon after.

The future of the forestry industry

Biomass harvest. Photo courtesy Jamie Simpson

Supporters of the mill have said that its closure would result in the loss of 2,700 forest-related jobs, and that claim was repeated by both Baarda and Linda MacNeil, the director for Unifor Atlantic Region, the union which represents mill workers.

In his announcement, Stephen McNeil announced the creation of a $50 million transition fund, which “will support displaced workers, small contractors and all those whose livelihoods will be affected.”

Linda MacNeil, the union rep, said the $50 million promised is insufficient to replace what she said is $40 million annually the mill pays to its 300 employees.

The premier said the transition fund would help refocus the industry.

[The forest industry] needs to diversify and this [transition] team will help ensure that the forestry sector still has a place in the economy of Nova Scotia,” said McNeil. “And as a government we want and need a forest industry because it helps drive our rural economy. It will look different. It may have new customers in new markets. And this transition fund will help with that. “

In the question period after his announcement, McNeil elaborated, saying “this is about now transitioning in the sector to recognizing what are the other opportunities, what are the other options? It’s really come down to in many ways, the chips that are [in wood lots] across the province. Many of them have been using Northern Pulp as their sole [buyer]. We now need to look for diversified market for that product and other products that we have in this province.” He continued:

One of the biggest issues right now is in the sawmill sector in Nova Scotia, the chips that come out of the residual left over from sawing the logs have ended up in the one marketplace. And they’ve continued to allow Northern [Pulp] to dominate that market. And so we need to find markets for that. 

We believe in Europe there’s there are opportunities in all the hardwood chips that go out of Sheet Harbour now, we believe there are pockets where some of the softwood can be used as well. And our government announced that this coming fall there will be six biomass plants that will be online. Mind you, they will be taking a small amount of residual chips, but they will be part of the ongoing solution of how we continue, quite frankly, to make sure that we can get product out of mills across the province so that they can continue to operate.

Jeff Bishop, the executive director for Forest NS, which represents pulp mills, sawmills, private woodlot owners, and truckers throughout the supply chain that will be affected by the closure of Northern Pulp, is also contemplating what that transition will look like.

“There needs to be a place for those products (a million tonnes of wood chips a year) that are currently consumed by Northern Pulp,” Bishop told the Halifax Examiner. “The problem is a light switch has been flicked off and there simply isn’t another one to reach over and turn on. So there is going to be great period of uncertainty. You don’t create new markets overnight. The concern is there are thousands of Nova Scotians who are scrambling where to find the next switch.”

There will be other ripple effects from the government’s decision. Kraft pulp from the mill in Pictou County is the third largest export through the Port of Halifax. “There are also some 30,000 private woodlot owners that provide the bulk of the wood fibre to the forest sector and today the value of their land has been dramatically cut,” said Bishop. “Many of these lots have been in families for generations and are a form of RRSP.”

“I’ll take the premier at his word that in addition to the money, he will put the time and people within government departments who are interested in seeing forestry continue. I’m willing to work with him on that,” said Bishop.

Fishermen

The July 6 #NOPIPE land-and-sea rally against the Northern Pulp mill plans to pipe effluent into the Northumberland Strait Photo courtesy Gerard J. Halfyard

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be the premier today. He had a difficult decision to make,” said Allan MacCarthy, the head of the Northumberland Fisherman’s Association and a fierce opponent of the mill’s plan to continue to discharge 85 million liters of treated effluent each day into a part of the Strait where the lobster fishery has been very lucrative.

The fishermen who mounted a “NO PIPE” campaign could be viewed as winners in the fight against the mill’s plan to stay in business, but Allan MacCarthy wasn’t doing any gloating.

“The mill has tried to back the premier into a corner. It’s the eleventh hour and the premier made the right decision,” said MacCarthy. “They didn’t give him anything to work with. Northern Pulp was given a Class 1 environmental assessment in Nova Scotia, which would probably be one of the easiest in Canada and the company didn’t do enough work to finish that. So the premier had no choice in the matter. History is going to show he made the right decision.”

Pictou Landing First Nation

PLFN marchers. Photo: Joan Baxter

The premier stated plainly that he was addressing an act of racism against the people of Pictou Landing First Nation:

Over the last six years I’ve seen institutional racism that we have dealt with, whether it has been for the Home for Colored Children or Boat Harbour. Let’s be frank, in the 60s, it was acceptable to put our dumps next to African Nova Scotia communities. Somehow our ancestors thought that was OK. It’s not today, nor is it OK to allow Boat Harbour to continue. And I believe it was put there because it was next to an Aboriginal community.

After McNeil’s announcement, PLFN Chief Andrea Paul and her Band Council issued the following statement today:

Thank you to our supporters. 

Premier Stephen MacNeil had a very difficult decision to make today, a decision that will affect many people in our region, but we feel he made the correct decision. We are grateful that he has decided to put an end to the pollution, and [for] providing an opportunity for us to heal.

We hope the Province of Nova Scotia will work to help those who have been displaced, and there is a plan to help with the transition for those in the forestry industry. 

Cleaning up Boat Harbour is all our people have ever wanted and Premier Stephen MacNeil kept his promise and on behalf of my community we are thankful.

Brian Hebert, the PLFN’s legal counsel, was asked about the possible lawsuits against the province because of the Indemnity Agreement and the 2002 extension of the Boat Harbour Lease; he said:

I think the province should consider having the lease extension and indemnity agreement declared null and void on the grounds that they are contrary to public policy.

Hebert was in PLFN for the announcement, and sent Examiner reporter Joan Baxter a direct message: “Yes. We did it!!!!”

And:

The initial reaction was a mixture of disbelief and tremendous joy. There were tears, shouts of joy, much hugging and honking of horns. Many still in disbelief. The only hint of concern is the fear of how NP [Northern Pulp] supporters may react. People are worried about safety. Chief Andrea [Paul] said this was a huge acknowledgement and affirmation of Indigenous rights — not just for Nova Scotia.

From my perspective this is a turning point in the history of Nova Scotia; we have put the environment and Indigenous rights ahead of jobs. We have honoured the commitments we’ve made to our Mi’kmaq communities. The Premier has looked forward and has set the Province on what I think is the only responsible path — towards an economy that is sustainable. The days of jobs over the environment are behind us.”

Political reaction

After McNeil made his announcement, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston spoke with reporters.

“It’s an incredibly sad day for thousands of Nova Scotia families, people working in the woods, running porters, running the mills, delivering fuel, a devastating day for those families today,” said Houston. I totally got it. For those people, the effect it’s going to have on them over the next couple of years of their life.”

But Houston supported McNeil’s decision. “I’ve always said it’s the responsibility of government to uphold the law,” said Houston. “This is the law. The premier made a very powerful statement that the company is no closer today than it was five years ago to getting [out of] Boat Harbour. And that’s been weighing on my mind very heavy. I was always waiting for the company to get approval as a starting point for a project. And here we are today and there’s still no approval for a project. And that’s just what’s been weighing on my mind.”


The Halifax Examiner is an advertising-free, subscriber-supported news site. Your subscription makes this work possible; please subscribe.

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WTI Stops Slide As API Figures Show Major Gasoline Draw – OilPrice.com

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WTI Crude Falls To Lowest Level Since January | OilPrice.com


Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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Crude oil prices fell further on Tuesday, with WTI falling to its lowest benchmark price since January this year.

Crude oil prices began their fall on Monday, dragged down by China’s disappointing economic data that led to China’s central bank cutting lending rates.

WTI prices fell to $86.13 per barrel by 2:24 pm ET, down $3.28, or 3.67% on the day. Brent crude fell $2.98 (-3.13%) on the day to $92.12 per barrel—the lowest price since February this year.

Gasoline prices in the United States have been falling for months now led by falling crude oil prices. Today’s gasoline prices in the United States average $3.949 per gallon, according to AAA data, down from $3.956 yesterday. Over the last month, U.S. gasoline prices have fallen 60 cents. They are still 76 cents above where they were this time last year.

The weight of disappointing data out of China—the world’s second-largest oil consumer and largest oil importer—was compounded on Tuesday by developments surrounding the Iran nuclear deal. Just moments before the deadline, Iran sent its written response to the EU regarding the “final” nuclear deal text. In its letter, Iran suggested that it was closer than it had ever been to securing a deal, although there were a few sticking points—mainly that the U.S. guaranteed the deal couldn’t be changed by future U.S. Presidents.

Despite the current crude oil fundamentals that suggest the market is still tight, the market fear is that Iran could unleash on the market hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil per day if sanctions were to be lifted. Iran has said that it could ramp up production and exports within months.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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Ageism: Does it Exist or Is It a Form of ‘I’m a Victim!’ Mentality? [ Part 4 ]

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How you think is everything.

This is the fourth and final column of a 4-part series dealing with ageism while job hunting.

The standard advice given by “experts” to overcome ageism revolves contorting yourself to “fit in,” “be accepted,” and “be invited.” Essentially, their advice is to conceal your age and hope the employer throughout the hiring process won’t figure it out and hire you.

It takes a lot of time and energy to be accepted into places where you aren’t welcome, and it can be heartbreaking.

Finding an employer who accepts you for who you are, regardless of age, gender, race, or whatever, is the key to happy employment. There’s no better feeling than the feeling you’re welcomed. Therefore, my advice to job seekers is: Be your best self and let the chips fall where they may. Doing your best and accepting the outcome will give you a Zen-like sense of freedom.

An attempt to infer someone’s biases based on their actions is usually just an assumption based on what you want to believe. If it benefits you to think someone is practicing ageism (e.g., a convenient excuse), then you’ll believe you’re the victim of ageism.

The fact is you don’t know what the hiring manager’s behind the scene looks like. The entire company’s leadership team judges their hiring decisions. Your fit with current employees needs to be considered. Budget constraints exist. Let’s not forget the biggest hiring influencer, and their past hiring mistakes, which they don’t want to repeat.

While reviewing resumes for a senior accounting position, the hiring manager thinks, “The Centennial College graduates I’ve hired didn’t last six months. While Bob has plenty of experience, he’s a Centennial College alumnus. Hiring another six months quitter won’t look good on me.” “Karen has worked for FrobozzCo International. If I recall, the company reportedly funneled money into offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. I wonder if Karen was involved.”

Association experiences contribute to most biases. You know the saying, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” If you met five rude redheads in a row, the next one will also be rude, right? The human brain is wired to look for patterns and predict future behavior based on those patterns. Call it a survival skill. When we first meet someone, we try to predict what behavior to expect from them using past experiences.

This quick assessment is why hiring managers decide, within as little as two minutes, whether a candidate is worth their time. While it’s important to try and make a good first impression (READ: image), you have no control over how others interpret it.

Bottom-line: You can’t control another person’s biases.

Based on how I hire, and conversations with hiring managers, I believe the following to be true. An employer is more interested in the results you can deliver for them than your age or whatever “ism” you believe is against you.

Can employers afford to pass up qualified candidates who could contribute to their bottom line? Of course not! (Okay, it’s “unlikely.”) You’ll be in demand if you can demonstrate a track record of adding value to your employers.

Having the belief that your age prevents you from finding the employment you want is a paralyzing belief. Ageism exists for all ages, which I think many people use as a crutch.

“They said I was overqualified. That’s ageism!”

“They hired someone younger than me. That’s ageism!”

“They said I wasn’t experienced enough. That’s ageism!”

Get over yourself!

Employers can hire whomever they deem to be the best fit for their business. It’s self-righteous to judge someone else’s biases (READ: preferences), especially when their biases don’t serve your interests. Let’s say, for example, you’re 52 years old, and the hiring manager prefers candidates between 45 and 55 (Yes, I know such hiring managers), and they hire you. Would you call out the hiring manager’s bias that worked in your favor?

If you believe your age is an obstacle, here’s my advice: Break the fourth wall. If you sense your age is the elephant in the room, put your age on the table and see what happens. When interviewing, I always mention, early in, that I’ve been managing call centers since 1996. I then let my interviewer do the mental math and wrestle with any age bias they may have. As I mentioned in my last column, the employer most likely Googled you and has a good idea of your age. Therefore, since you were vetted to determine if you were interview-worthy, tell yourself that your age is irrelevant.

When interviewing, don’t focus on “isms.” Doing so makes them your reality. Instead, focus on the problems the position you’re interviewing for is meant to solve.

______________________________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com

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CMHC reports annual pace of housing starts up 1.1 per cent in July – CP24

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The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, August 16, 2022 9:02AM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, August 16, 2022 9:02AM EDT

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual pace of housing starts in July edged higher compared with June despite a slowdown in urban starts.

The housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts in July was 275,329 units, an increase of 1.1 per cent from June.

The annual rate of urban starts was down 0.8 per cent at 254,371 units in July, while multi-unit urban starts fell 0.3 per cent to 195,987 units.

The pace of single-detached urban starts dropped 2.3 per cent to 58,384 units.

Meanwhile, rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 20,958 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates was 264,426 units in July, up from 257,862 in June.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

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