Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stands in solidarity with Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul when it comes to the Northern Pulp paper mill.
“When that monstrosity opened in the 1960s, how many businesses went out of business that were running beautiful little tourism cottages along the Northumberland Strait? How much did we lose?” May said at a speech at the Northumberland Fisheries Museum in Pictou on Feb. 16.
May, who ran as a candidate in Central Nova in 2008, spoke to a packed room at the museum about a range of issues. She talked about everything from the high cost of tuition to the proposed effluent treatment pipe that the mill wants to put into the Northumberland Strait.
Prior to the meet and greet at the museum, May met with Liberal MP Sean Fraser and members of the fishing community as well as Chief Paul to talk about that issue specifically.
May said she believes that, based on her conversation with Fraser, the province will honour the 2020 deadline to close the Boat Harbour plant, but that she is prepared if the province changes its mind.
“The Nova Scotia Department of Environment should just shut down Boat Harbour at 2020 no matter what and if we’re looking for meaningful ethical work, there’s a lot of opportunities across this province that don’t involve logging and putting chipped forest into ships leaving for overseas,” May said. “We should be bringing back a saw log industry. We should be bringing back processed finished wood. Value added.”
Repeating the words of Chief Andrea Paul from their meeting prior, she said: “Enough is enough. Boat Habour has to close.”
May has had her own history fighting against the pulp mill under previous owners. In the ’70s and ’80s she fought against pulp mills use of insecticide and pesticide — including Agent Orange, the Vietnam-era chemical responsible for cancer and birth defects — on forests in Nova Scotia.
May said she would like for the mill to close and support be given to the workers there.
“Forget the mill, let’s give some money to the workers and see what they can do on their own to start a new business or whatever they want to do. For my point of view, close the mill.”
With an anticipated five or six federal parties for Canadians to choose from for the next federal election in October 2019, May is predicting a minority government, which she believes will be good for both her own party and the country as a whole.
“I’m going to be going into the next federal election campaign with a very strong, confident expectation of going back to Ottawa with lots of Green MPs who will be able to speak their minds, vote their conscience and do what the people who elected them want them to do.“
She said the problem with the current state of affairs is that MPs are told how to vote by their party leaders. She believes a minority government would create greater cross-party collaboration.
“Cooperation is in our DNA as Greens. We want to be able to work across party lines.”
Some key platform issues for the Green Party heading into the election are universal pharmacare and free post-secondary education.