KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Some 500 or more forestry and Northern Pulp workers, worried about their jobs and their futures, rallied at Province House this morning. There were speakers from Unifor, from woodlot owners, and wood product manufacturers.
It was quick. The rally started at 11:00, and at 11:30 people were thanked for coming out and told to go home again.
“Pictou Landing First Nation, we feel your pain,” said one of the speakers. “Boat Harbour will be cleaned up.”
Just not yet.
For the record, in 1991 the province announced that the treatment facility would be closed in 1995, but when the time arrived that commitment was extended to 2005, at which time Boat Harbour was to be remediated.
In 2001 a new deadline of 2030 was set for the removal of the entire treatment facility, with the understanding that most of Boat Harbour would be restored way before that date, first by 2005, then by 2008. It never happened.
Unifor never spoke out against any of these betrayals. Instead it exerted its own pressures on governments of all stripes, in perfect alignment with the company owners.
Now the promise should be broken once again, change the January 31, 2020 deadline embedded in legislation, Unifor says.
Never mind the stench, the very real health risks, and the demoralizing impact of the lagoon on the Mi’kmaw community.
Workers attending the rally are right to be worried. Neither company nor union (nor government) have ever seriously prepared for this eventuality. Until now the threat of job loss and the art of the backroom deal have always worked.
Tomorrow we should know whether this time things are different. It will be a sad day no matter what McNeil decides.
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