SUTHERLAND'S RIVER, N.S. - Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul says she “felt a little defeated” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to a question July 17 about whether the federal government would be willing to step in and do a federal assessment of Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment facility.
Trudeau said the federal government recognizes the importance of the oceans and protecting Canada’s waters.
“One of the most important things for me, however, as we move forward and as I serve Canadians is to demonstrate a respectful collaborative approach with the provinces and that’s exactly what we’re doing and that’s why we respect areas of provincial jurisdiction.”
“So that would be ‘no’ then?” asked Chronicle Herald reporter Aaron Beswick, who posed the effluent question to the Prime Minister.
“That is me respecting areas of provincial jurisdiction,” Trudeau responded.
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Paul said the prime minister’s response came across as political.
“I felt a little defeated by it. I’m feeling like they’re not going to grant the federal assessment.”
She said she will continue to push the federal environment minister for it.
Paul said she recognizes it’s a difficult issue for the province to handle.
“There’s so much at stake on both sides,” she said. “Whatever they decide there’s going to be a lot of upset people.”
She believes that only adds more reason to the argument for federal involvement.
“It would take the pressure off,” she said. “Then everybody would be a lot more confident that the process is being looked at more carefully. There’s just so much at stake here.”
Paul was part of a group who protested when an effluent line from Northern Pulp to the current Boat Harbour treatment facility broke June 10, 2014. The protestors refused to leave until the province committed to closing the the facility.
In response, the provincial government committed to closing the facility by January 2020.
Northern Pulp has proposed an effluent treatment facility that would be built near the pulp mill on Abercrombie Point with the treated effluent then piped into a location in the Northumberland Strait.
Kathy Cloutier, Director of Communications for Paper Excellence which owns Northern Pulp, said that there are regulations and processes in place for projects like the proposed effluent treatment facility.
“We have to have faith in the people that are put in positions to enforce regulations and oversee projects such as this one – that’s their job,” she said. “It’s our job as a proponent to ensure that they have all the information they require to do theirs.”
She said the proposed form of treatment is widely used and is considered to be the best technology in the field.
“Northern Pulp / Paper Excellence has always said we will abide by whatever assessment is determined for this project,” she said. “As a proponent, we’ve had no say in provincial class determination or federal determination – that is determined solely by regulations and submitted project description.”
There are many federal agencies involved as part of the project approval process she said including the Department of Fisheries & Oceans, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, Transport Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.