Northern Pulp files lawsuit seeking damages from Nova Scotia government

·2 min read

HALIFAX — The owner of an idled pulp mill in Nova Scotia's Pictou County is suing the province for damages it says occurred because of the premature closure of its operation.

Paper Excellence, owner of Northern Pulp, filed a statement of claim in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Thursday, alleging it has lost income and potential profits because of the provincial government's actions.

The plant, which opened in the late 1960s, was mothballed in January 2020 after the province prohibited the mill from dumping effluent near a local Mi'kmaq community.

After Nova Scotia rejected the mill's proposed plan to pump the effluent into the Northumberland Strait, the company confirmed the closure of its factory, eliminating 300 jobs.

The company alleges it will lose $450 million as a result of the closure and the actions of the province that led up to it.

The allegations in the 54-page statement of claim have not been tested in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.

The document alleges that provincial civil servants wanted to force the company to voluntarily close in order to reduce the province's potential legal obligations to the Pictou Landing First Nation.

It also claims various government departments deliberately set out to prevent the mill from meeting a Jan. 30, 2020 deadline for a new effluent treatment plant.

In an email, a spokesman for the company said it would "continue to remain open to engaging in discussion with the province to reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement."

Premier Tim Houston said during a news conference he has long been clear with the company that he didn't intend to use public money to fund a negotiated settlement.

"I've said if they have a case to bring, they should bring it before the courts. They've decided they have a court case to bring and … we'll let the courts decide on that," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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