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NS cuts sawmill president from forestry transition team for pulp mill comments


January 7, 2020
By Maria Church
Maria Church
Northern Pulp. Photo: © Murdo Ferguson/Paper Excellence.

A controversial opinion on the future of Nova Scotia’s Northern Pulp mill has led to the axe of one of the province’s newly announced forestry transition team members.

Kelliann Dean, Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs and trade and transition team leader, released a statement today announcing that Elmsdale Lumber Company president Robin Wilber is no longer on the team.

“The forestry transition team was formed to collaborate on ways to support the forestry sector and the workers and businesses connected to the industry. This is not a table to discuss the future of Northern Pulp. That is the company’s issue. Robin Wilber is focused on options for Northern Pulp. That is not part of the transition team’s mandate therefore he is no longer part of the transition team,” Dean states.

Late last week, shortly after the eight-member transition team was announced, Wilber was quoted by news outlets voicing support for the option of hot idling the pulp mill in the hopes of reopening with a new treatment facility in the future.

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The pulp mill is scheduled to close at the end of the month to uphold a government-mandated deadline to stop diverting effluent into Boat Harbour.

“There’s of course thousands of jobs in the province at stake, and I know jobs are important, but the bigger story that hasn’t come out and it will over the next while is that the 30,000-plus woodlot owners in the province have just lost 30-50 per cent of the value of their land and their timber resources,” Wilber told SaltWire Networks.

According to the Chronicle Herald, Wilber told a local radio show this morning he was “fired” from the transition team for wanting to talk about the future of the pulp mill.

Dean’s statement notes that Wilber is still welcome to share ideas with transition team members on support for businesses and workers, and moving the industry forward.