The Bowater Mill Investment

When NewPage shut down, it was a real test of the NDP’s commitment to rural Nova Scotia. And they acted swiftly, coming up with a comprehensive 7 Point Woodlands Plan to help woodlot owners and keep the mill on “hot-idle” while searching for a new buyer.

Some say paper mills may be a sunset industry of sorts, but they’re not ready to go the way of horse-wranglers and scissor-sharpeners just yet.


Darrell Dexter and Vicki Conrad at the forestry announcement in Liverpool.

Just as we saw with the community of Port Hawkesbury as the NewPage news hit, Premier Dexter spent time with MLA Vicki Conrad and the people of Liverpool the last few weeks as the Premier’s Office and the Mills Committee worked to save a town’s mainstay industry.

If you want to win the hearts and votes of rural Nova Scotia, you have to understand farming, fishing and forestry. Darrell Dexter gets that.

While Haligonians might complain about “corporate welfare” and “bailing out Bowater”, rural Nova Scotians know the existence of their towns depend on investments in our natural resource industries.

The Herald gets it too, writing:

No one rejoices in having to invest a lot of public money in revitalizing an important industry to keep it from failing. But sometimes that’s the right thing to do, if it’s done in the right way. The province’s $50-million outlay to help Bowater Mersey retool, innovate and cut costs, announced Friday, is one of those times.

For our Haligonian readers, imagine your economy if your shipyard closed or the arts left town – that’s the scale Queens County was looking at. Cut rural Nova Scotia some slack, and take solace in the fact environmentalists are onside as well. Here’s The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society:

Nova Scotia has very little public land. This agreement will go a long way toward protecting significant wilderness areas in southwestern Nova Scotia and help the province achieve its goal of protecting at least 12% of the provincial landmass over the next few years.

This is a win-win. Hopefully it will help keep the mill open and, at the same time, Nova Scotia gets to expand its public land base and protect important tracts of wilderness.