The decision by the Federal Environment Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, to have no federal assessment for the Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment facility and placing it in the hands of the Nova Scotia’s environmental assessment authority, leaves people who stand for “No Pipe in the Strait” without much hope. 

Joe Byrne, Leader of the NDP, said, “The Federal government was given a chance to lead a process that could have protected the communities and the economic and environmental base of the Northumberland Strait and they chose not to.”

Wilkinson said he was aware of the concerns and expects the provincial government will answer them but the  rulings of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and Court of Appeal both warn that the Provincial Government, as funder and regulator, has questionable impartiality. Premier Dennis King has repeated requests for a federal assessment and shared strong concerns about the protection of the marine environment. 

During the last election campaign, the federal candidates all addressed their parties’ stance on climate change and environment. All four Liberal candidates were reelected but it seems that, as usual, Liberals promise one thing and deliver the opposite. As Allan McCarthy, of the Northumberland Fisherman’s Association said, “To me, Wilkinson is doing some double talk.”  The Liberals left the COP 25 in Madrid with no clear direction to address the Climate  Crisis and this decision shows they have no credibility.  

Joe Byrne summed it up, “First Nations, workers, fishers, and the entire Strait community should be able to rely on fair access to resources and employment and a healthy environment. Pulp production that destroys the fishery is short-sighted and wrong.”

It is frustrating but not surprising for other candidates who met with those people and put up signs saying No Pipe in the Strait, to now be told that Ottawa is concerned but will not act upon its responsibility to protect us. The Liberals are betting heavily that in the seven days before Christmas, no one will notice, object, or protest. 

The Nova Scotia Government released the news that they will require more information. Time may be on the side of those who stand by their conviction; there should be no pipe in the strait. Maybe we can get on with Christmas plans but be warned to keep a watchful eye on the news. In the meantime, feel free to send this article to the Honourable Ministers of PEI. They must feel some disappointment and responsibility for the Minister’s decision. 

Lynne Thiele

Past candidate for NDPPEI and Cardigan NDP