Forestry transition team prepares for first meeting under shadow of dismissal
ELMSDALE, N.S. -- The day before the first formal meeting of Nova Scotia's new forestry transition team, an ousted member says it remains to be seen how effective they'll be in helping the industry deal with some major changes.
Sawmill owner Robin Wilber was dumped from the committee after he spoke out about the possibility of Northern Pulp going into a "hot idle" after it shuts down at the end of the month.
It was just before Christmas when Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced the controversial Northern Pulp mill wasn't getting more time to come up with a plan to stop pumping wastewater into Boat Harbour, and almost immediately, the company announced it would be shutting down.
The government countered with a $50-million transition fund and the appointment of a committee to come up with ideas to help workers and businesses affected by the shutdown.
Wilber, who has been in the forestry industry most of his adult life, was on the committee -- until Tuesday.
"Oh, I got a call to say that my ideas are not part of the mandate for the committee, so I'm no longer wanted," Wilber said.
That was confirmed in a terse five-sentence news release sent out Tuesday.
Wilber had been talking to the media, including CTV News, about the possibility of Northern Pulp going into "hot idle" after the shutdown to protect the infrastructure.
The idea, he says, came up at a stakeholder meeting a few days ago.
"They weren't my ideas," Wilber said. "I don't know anything about hot idle. I'm not a boiler engineer. It just came along, and I thought, 'Wow, that might be a good idea, that might be a great avenue, we should research it.' But they don't want to research it, so that's fine. I'm out."
Wilber says he wishes members nothing but the best, but with some ideas apparently off the table, he's concerned their ability to help could be limited.
"If the government doesn't want to look at anything to do with Northern Pulp, it poses the question, 'Do they just want to shut it down?'" Wilber said. "I don't know. Maybe they do, maybe they don't."
The committee, without Wilber, will hold its first meeting Thursday.