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The fight to keep a pulp mill from poisoning the Northumberland Strait

A Mi’kmaq fisherman arrives in Pictou Harbour to protest the pulp mill’s plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the ocean. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Justin Trudeau likes to say he’s a torchbearer for the environment.

The prime minister also claims he’s a champion of Indigenous peoples.

And he is every bit of that — on paper.

But he risks becoming the Pontius Pilate of the Environment and another double-talking Indian agent if he doesn’t change his tune on Boat Harbour.

Admittedly, it is not a comfortable spotlight for any politician.

There is no monster project to announce in this tiny slice of rural, seaside Nova Scotia. There is no LNG Canada deal bringing a $40 billion investment into the country — the sort of thing that lights up a press conference and a campaigning politician’s eyes.

There are just two desperate, defiant communities here in need of help: the fisherman of Northumberland Strait and the members of Pictou Landing First Nation. They have come together over a mutual threat. Both have solid reasons to fear that power politics and pollution may be about to overwhelm them.

It comes down to this: After years of receiving industrial scale effluent from the local kraft pulp mill, Boat Harbour is scheduled to be closed by the provincial government. That means the company, Northern Pulp, must come up with a new treatment plan for its effluent.

Though no formal plan has been filed by the company, the proposal for now is to build a 10 km, $19 million pipe and dump the treated sludge from the mill directly into the Northumberland Strait.

A lighthouse looks out over the Northumberland Strait near the Confederation Bridge. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Northern Pulp has committed to a new $70 million oxygen delignification system to improve the quality of the effluent it wants to discharge into the Strait. Fishermen and First Nations peoples are adamant that the idea is a bad one, and with good reason.

Parts of this once stunning estuary in Pictou County have already become a national disgrace. According to people who live here, the affected areas are in the same league as the poisoned tailing ponds of the Alberta tar sands and the Sydney tar ponds on Cape Breton. What was once a tidal bay supporting a variety of marine life is now a toxic lake. One resident described Boat Harbour as being “the colour of Pepsi.”

“Boat Harbour is as dead as a door nail. Black, dead water. I wouldn’t stick my finger — or anything else in it,” Merigomish resident, and longtime lobster fishermen, Percy Hayne told iPolitics.

On first seeing it, Green Party leader Elizabeth May described it as “a sulphurous, festering pond, steaming and clotted with sludge around the edges.”

The prime minister recently came to Nova Scotia to announce the twinning of a highway and snap the usual selfies. When asked if he was sidestepping the mess at Boat Harbour, Trudeau brushed off reporters. “That is me respecting areas of provincial jurisdiction,” he quipped.

There are those who beg to differ.

Hayne, citing lessons learned from decades on the stern of a boat, was categorical that Trudeau has it wrong.

“I’ve been around the fishery for 40 years. Of course it’s federal jurisdiction, no doubt in my mind. How that idea popped out of the friggin’ basket is beyond me. Go out and do something wrong in the fishery and who charges you? The federal government charges you, that’s who. Trudeau should be ashamed. This is not a pipe that becomes a problem when it ruptures, like the ones they worry about out West. This is a pipe designed to pollute prime fishing grounds.”

Brian Hebert is the lawyer for the Pictou Landing First Nation.

For 17 fruitless years he has tried to negotiate a solution to the Boat Harbour debacle with various governments. Five different provincial governments and political parties of every stripe have promised to close or clean it up.

No one has delivered.

Despite Trudeau’s renunciation of federal jurisdiction, Hebert points out that there are clear legal grounds for Ottawa to step in.

“If you look at the test for a federal assessment, there’s certainly potential for harm to Pictou Landing First Nation, under their treaty rights. That triggers the federal jurisdiction,” he said.

“But there is also the public outcry given what’s at stake. The very fact that it is interprovincial and a significant number of people are opposed to this, that would clearly be enough for the feds to accept some jurisdiction.”

So why would the prime minister take a pass on getting involved in preventing Boat Harbour 2.0?

Hebert has a theory.

“I would have to say that if the decision is that they’re not going to get involved, that they will rely on Nova Scotia, that is purely political. It is a Liberal federal government staying out of the way of a Liberal provincial government.”

Trudeau is not the only member of the government whose response has been underwhelming.

Just a few weeks ago, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna paid a visit to Nova Scotia. She was invited by Chief Andrea Paul of the Pictou Landing First Nation to visit Boat Harbour to see and smell for herself what the band has been living with for 50 years.

McKenna, who was in Nova Scotia for the G7 environment and energy ministers’ meetings, went missing in action on the issue. She thanked the chief for her invitation, and explained why she wouldn’t be coming: “Unfortunately, as a result of scheduling constraints, I am unable to accept your invitation.”

There was no mention in the minister’s letter about setting another date.

Despite being too busy to visit Boat Harbour, McKenna did find time during her trip to tour national parks for photo-ops. The snaps were lovely, but the minister’s priorities didn’t impress citizens who were expecting something better from her than pretty pictures.

Joan Baxter, the author of “The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest,” an award-winning book about Boat Harbour, said McKenna’s decision was “very disappointing,” and “a slap in the face” to Pictou Landing First Nation.

Chief Paul agreed.

“Minister McKenna, they say that Mi’Kmaq people are too nice. It’s time we stopped being so damned nice,” she told iPolitics. “You need to listen to the people. We’ve been here and we’ve suffered long enough. We need to bring some calm back into our world.”

It is a world that needs a lot of calming. The first time Clean the Mill activist Dave Gunning saw Boat Harbour, he cried.

Like lobster fisherman Percy Hayne, Gunning was appalled by the defilement of air, land and water. Over the years, it has had five different owners, the latest being the super-wealthy Widjaja family of Indonesia.

The mill was originally intended to operate for 20 years. Thirty years beyond its expected lifespan, it is still producing kraft pulp, clouds of smoke and toxic effluent. The plant is so old that Gunning said connecting it to a new treatment system is like putting “a solid gold muffler on a jalopy.”

“For years they ran with no filtration on their stacks, nothing on their boilers,” he said. “And for decades, there were no regulations on dumping the sludge into the ocean.”

As the treatment site for Northern Pulp’s mill on Abercrombie Point, the once pristine waters of Boat Harbour have undergone a terrible transformation.

“The treatment facility is dead water. Where the treated effluent goes, 300 acres, you won’t find a frog there. Where the treated effluent flows is now dead,” Gunning said.

In her book, Baxter conjured up what the place was like before the mill was built in 1967, and how quickly things changed.

“This was originally a tidal estuary — a source of food for the Pictou Landing First Nation, a place to fish for eel and keep their boats, a place for recreation. The tidal estuary became a basin after being dammed. The effluent water was lethal to fish, few creatures survive there…It is dark froth where it goes over the dam, and hard green scum after it settles.”

Members of Pictou Landing First Nation observed that fish and seals began dying en masse just days after the waste from the mill began to flow all those years ago.

The source of this industrial-scale pollution is effluent from Northern Pulp, which produces and exports approximately 280,000 tonnes of bulk raw material for toilet paper, tissues and other paper products every year. It is then manufactured into finished products in other countries.

Northern Pulp is an important employer in Pictou County. It employs 339 people at the mill itself, but that is just part of the economic benefit.

According to the company’s polished public relations campaign, Northern Pulp has created the equivalent of 2,040 full-time equivalent jobs, with those workers as a group drawing wages of over $101 million.

The mill operates virtually year-round and makes a heavy demand on precious natural resources. It uses up to 90 million litres of fresh water a day, which critics say is more than the municipal water use of Halifax. That water then comes out of the treatment process as toxic effluent.

For that vast amount of fresh water, Northern Pulp pays the princely sum of $100,000 a year to the provincial government. The mill also uses chlorine compounds to produce the whiter than white products that the market demands.

The effluent in Boat Harbour contains dioxins, furans and a witch’s brew of heavy metals, including mercury, zinc and chromium.

After being treated, the effluent goes from Boat Harbour to Boat Harbour Basin. There, it mixes with other fresh water rivers and streams that flow in there. It is retained for up to 30 days before being discharged into the saltwater at the Pictou Landing shoreline.

Under Northern Pulp’s public proposal, and based on the company’s new activated sludge treatment system, effluent would not be retained in Boat Harbour Basin at all. That means no additional cooling, settling, dilution or mixing with other fresh water sources.

Instead, all the treated effluent would be dumped directly into the Strait via the pipe. KSH Engineering has interpreted what that will mean.

Based on a conservative flow from the plant of 70 million litres of effluent every 24 hours, the pipe would deposit 945 kg of solids in the Northumberland Strait each and every day. Under the company’s old treatment system, those solids never reached the saltwater, both because of the lengthy retention in Boat Harbour Basin and the fact that the Basin is dammed.

The bottom line of Northern Pulp’s plan and the essence of the widespread opposition to it? Boat Harbour isn’t being closed. It is being moved.

If history is any guide, the mill might just get its way. As late as 2014, Northern Pulp was allowed to emit nearly 11 times more particulate matter from its recovery boiler than pulp mills in the United States. And then, with a spectacular spill on the territory of the Pictou Landing First Nation that same year, the environmental nightmare of Boat Harbour seemed to be ending.

It took an epical disaster, which saw 47 million litres of untreated effluent spilled on the land from a ruptured pipe. Coincidentally, a lot of Canadian pulp mills during the 1960s and 1970s were built on or near First Nations lands. Some people here have called that practise “environmental racism.”

Blocked by Pictou Landing First Nation from repairing the ruptured pipe, Nova Scotia Environment Minister Randy Delorey finally made the decision to close Boat Harbour for good. There was even a shutter date: 2020. The government also undertook to “remediate” the poisoned harbour and basin.

If it can be done at all, this Herculean task won’t be cheap. The low estimate is over $200 million, and according to sources familiar with the extent of the degradation, it could take as much as $700 million.

Northern Pulp, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers, is not responsible for a penny of those remediation costs. That’s because Nova Scotia entered into an unprecedented indemnity agreement with the mill that left the people of Nova Scotia literally holding the garbage bag for the company.

Incredibly, the province took responsibility for the mill’s effluent and its treatment. In other words, the regulator owns the waste of the operation it regulates, making it the de facto business partner of the mill.

As such, the provincial government has supplied a never-ending subsidy to Northern Pulp of hundreds of millions of dollars. It also set aside a fund of $217 million to remediate Boat Harbour once a new treatment system is in place. These disastrous decisions continue to bedevil residents here.

“I haven’t figured it out,” Baxter said. “I can’t place myself in the minds of politicians from the 60s and 70s. Was it complete naïveté and possibly the influence corporations have over governments? If defies reason.”

According to several stakeholders who spoke to iPolitics, Northern Pulp did not consult with fishermen and First Nations members about their new treatment proposal, but rather the company informed them of what it had decided to do.

Allan MacCarthy, a representative of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association (NFA) described the process his organization took part in during 2017.

“We were in consultation over last winter, but it wasn’t consultation, it was dictation. No other options were talked about. It was made clear to us. No pipe, no mill.”

Ron Heighton, the president of the NFA, echoed the sentiment that the talks weren’t really talks at all, just the company’s hard line on what would happen next — or else.

“We didn’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling. I highly doubt they are telling us the whole truth. They weren’t willing to look at anything else. (It was) very frustrating. They did come up with a few silly suggestions — taking it out to sea in tankers or trucking it away. It would take a truck leaving the plant every eleven minutes to do that.”

What did Baxter think of the “no pipe, no mill” mantra from Northern Pulp?

“It’s a threat. It’s a bully statement, my way or the highway. That’s the way the mill has operated since it opened,” she said. “It has bullied everybody. I was bullied. They bullied Coles bookstore into cancelling my book signing. The excuse was threats to the bookstore’s staff. Threats? If there were really serious threats, go to the police. Don’t cancel my book signing.”

An excerpt from a letter put out by Northern Pulp, expressly referring to Baxter’s book signing, bears out the author’s comments. “…This book is a non-factual rhetoric filled account of the mill and its history, and quite frankly, something that is offensive to anyone who has an association with the mill.”

In the wake of Baxter’s cancelled event, John Hamm, chairman of Northern Pulp’s board, said he believed in freedom of the speech. But he added the press had to be “evidence-based.”

Neither Hamm, Northern Pulp, nor current Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil showed much interest in supplying “evidence” as it relates to the mill.

None of them agreed to Baxter’s request for a tour of the plant or interviews for her book. In Hamm’s case, the author even sent him a registered letter. It went unanswered.

The heart of the concern by the fishing community is that their abundant fishery could suffer irreparable harm from what spews from the pipe and an antiquated mill operating well beyond its projected lifespan.

“It’s a major concern of ours,” Heighton said. “Effluent and fish don’t get along. There will be mortality. We have a very lucrative lobster fishery right now. Chemicals coming out into one of the most productive places for lobster spawning could be a disaster.”

Hayne puts it more bluntly: “The stuff they’re sending out into the ocean is heated to 37 degrees, so the temperature of the water will rise. The colour of the water will not let sunlight in and that will interfere with spawning and juveniles,” he said.

“They want to put this pipe near one of the main herring spawning grounds. The rising tide will take the effluents right onto the herring grounds. The falling tide will take the spawn down into the shit pile.”

Melanie Griffin is a marine biologist and the scientific advisor to the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association. Having grown up in Pictou, she remembers as a child driving with her parents across the causeway near Abercrombie Point and seeing the mill for the first time.

“I asked my mother, ‘Is that the place where they make clouds?’”

Proponents of the pipe argue that the effluent has been discharged into the Northumberland Strait for 50 years with no harm done. Griffin counters that no one really knows what damage the mill has already done to the environment, or the scale of what might happen if the pipe goes through.

“With my job background as a marine biologist, what it comes down to is sustainability between a healthy fishery and a healthy ocean,” she said. “In terms of keeping the ocean healthy, this is a giant step backwards.

“If that pipe goes in, fishermen will have to worry for years. It is so ironic. In P.E.I., you can hardly get a plastic straw at a restaurant — and especially on beaches. We don’t want plastic in the ocean. So if we are concerned about a person with a straw, why not worry about 90 million litres of heated effluent going into fishing grounds?”

Griffin said that she has already been told by a physical oceanographer at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who is an expert on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, that the pipe “will definitely cause direct damage to the area.” The only question is how far the effluent will flow.

In other words, the only question is how big the dead zone will be?

Northern Pulp claims that its new process, with multiple diffusers at sea, will be better than the system that turned Boat Harbour into a toxic wasteland.

Griffin isn’t so sure.

“My thoughts are that the two practices are completely different. No time to settle, just directly pumped into the Northumberland Strait, into world-class fishing grounds,” she said.

“Although the mill has been there since 1967, there were no protocols back then on such dumping, no control sites years before we ever started releasing anything. We simply don’t know that it hasn’t caused problems.”

Up until the early 1990s, there were no federal regulations on pumping pulp mill effluents into the ocean. The current regulations, which permit such dumping within limits, have been widely criticized as inadequate and are now under review.

For those who trust in the federal regulations, Gunning has a simple message: Don’t.

“The LC50 test is the test that Northern Pulp would have to pass. They do not test saltwater fish (as part of that), and 50 per cent of the freshwater fish tested can die within the test period, and it is still considered a test pass,” he said.

The members of the Pictou Landing First Nation have many of the same concerns about the pipe as Northumberland Strait fishermen. They are backed in their opposition by all 32 Maritime First Nations bands.

For Indigenous peoples, it is simply time to stop using the ocean as a garbage can.

“Some people just look out there and see an empty body of water. They think there’s nothing there. They’re idiots,” Hayne said. “They haven’t got a clue about what they are interfering with.”

Chief Paul’s band knows how alive the Northumberland waters really are. Pictou Landing First Nation is a small band, 450 members on reserve, another 150 off reserve. Fishing is a vitally important industry here.

“In fishing season, we have probably about 100 people directly employed. We have our captains and deckhands and others, and security for our traps. We have fishermen who fish for themselves, and also community licenses. If the Pipe goes in and harms species, it will have a huge impact on our community. It could impact our treaty,” she said.

It isn’t all about commerce, however.

Chief Paul says there are broader dangers at play here involving the entire Gulf ecosystem, a contention supported by a new study from Washington University. The research found that large scale climate change is already dangerously lowering oxygen levels in the Gulf. That in turn threatens marine life in this profoundly important body of water into which the Great Lakes drain.

The record of the Trudeau government on the marine environment, including in the Gulf, is sub-par to mediocre, augmented by windy words.

Belated protection for the endangered North Atlantic right whales and southern resident killer whales; an estimated 15-fold increase in tar sands bitumen tankers in Pacific waters; a flotilla of LNG tankers in northern British Columbia coastal waters; permission for exploratory oil wells, and sonic exploration in Atlantic waters. Nation-wide, the federal government has done nothing for 11 out of 14 endangered or threatened species of marine mammals.

No wonder the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development called out the Trudeau government for its slackness in protecting marine mammals. According to WWF-Canada, at-risk populations have actually declined by an average of 28 per cent since the Species at Risk Act was introduced in 2002.

Something is terribly wrong.

“Everybody should be concerned,” Chief Paul said.

“Step up, be a voice. When I talked to the chiefs, I said, ‘Whatever lives in that water can’t speak for itself. We have to be that voice.’ The pipe is not just a financial worry.”

Like Northumberland Strait fishermen, Chief Paul has no faith in either Northern Pulp or the provincial government to do the right thing. Both are telling her band that the new treatment process that will feed the pipe is an improvement over what exists now. Paul isn’t buying the sales pitch.

“The mill says that the new treatment process will be much better than the old one. We (have) never seen the new system. We know what we know, and what we know is Boat Harbour.”

History is the fountainhead of Chief Paul’s enduring skepticism.

Baxter writes that back in 1967, the band was “tricked” into agreeing to the mill by both the provincial and federal governments. The absence of trust between the band, governments and the mill goes back to those days. Chief Paul said she will never forget the deception.

“They tricked my predecessors into accepting the mill. They took them to a facility in New Brunswick and showed them its clean water. They said that’s what we would get. It wasn’t even a pulp and paper operation. It was a sewage treatment plant that wasn’t even operating. That was like a punch in the gut.”

The band received $65,000 back in 1967 for approving a mill they were assured would do no harm. More than 26 years later, the federal government made an out-of-court settlement, outside the terms of the Indian Act, to pay the band $35 million for the damage the project had done to Pictou Landing First Nation.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm during a tribute to Hamm in 2006. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Another reason Chief Paul and other opponents of the pipe don’t trust what they are being told is that Northern Pulp and the Nova Scotia government continue to be joined at the hip. As one resident told me, “When the government says something, we hear the mill talking.”

Little wonder.

Hamm, the chair of Northern Pulp’s board, was the premier of Nova Scotia when the provincial government extended the company’s 30-year lease.

Bernard Miller, the lawyer who for years acted as Northern Pulp’s advisor on environmental compliance, was handpicked by current Premier McNeil to work for his government.

Miller is currently working as a senior advisor on the executive council of Nova Scotia. The McNeil government says he is excluded from all discussions about the mill. Of course, the government really had little choice, after the province’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Merlin Nunn, said Miller was in a conflict of interest arising from his close association with the mill.

All of that adds up to a crisis of trust.

Opponents of the new treatment process for the mill are aware of the hopeless conflict of interest that arises out of the provincial government’s special relationship with Northern Pulp. No environmental assessment done by the province will ever be seen as impartial.

“To me, you cannot be both a proponent, covering costs of a project, and a detached regulator,” Baxter said.

And that is exactly why fishermen and First Nation peoples here believe that Ottawa — and Ottawa alone — is capable of doing a proper environmental assessment of the pipe.

They reason that if the government of Stephen Harper could hand over $28.1 million to Northern Pulp in 2011, as a “green” subsidy, surely Trudeau should accept Ottawa’s responsibility with the prospect of open-ocean pollution in the offing.

The pipe’s opponents in Pictou make one thing crystal clear: No one is asking that the mill be shut down. They just want to ensure it treats its effluent in a manner that doesn’t poison the environment and threaten an industry that can go on forever if it is managed and protected. That means honestly assessing the environmental threat and using the latest technology to mitigate ocean pollution.

Griffin said, as a marine biologist, she is “100 per cent” certain that a proper, full-scale environmental assessment by Ottawa needs to be done before the pipe goes in.

“Big changes are happening in the Gulf due to global warming. Shifting ecosystems, whales following food into new areas, thousands of squid washed up on the shores of P.E.I. That’s never happened before,” she said

“We need a science-based federal assessment. This is not a provincial issue. Ottawa says it wants to better protect the ocean. That goal should apply now to this situation.”

Trudeau is still popular in these parts, just no longer the rage. Some people, like Gunning, have personal reasons for hoping that the prime minister will ride to the rescue.

“If I could talk to Trudeau face to face, I’d remind him that a mutual friend introduced me to him at a steakhouse in Ottawa the night before his big fight with Patrick Brazeau. I knew then, and I know now, that he’s got it in him, he’s got the jam in him,” Gunning said.

“I’m being kind. What I mean to say is, that’s what I felt when I shook his hand the night before he fought Brazeau. He surprised the whole country by coming through. We’re waiting for the next big surprise from him down in Pictou County, where we badly need a good surprise.”

Baxter sees Boat Harbour and the mill as a way for the prime minister to burnish some of his faded lustre on two key files, the environment and Indigenous affairs.

“It is a perfect place for Justin to show that he is committed to both of those things, even though he hasn’t come through on other promises…This is a moment when the feds should step in and say, ‘We have jurisdiction in this, and we are going to step in and protect the fishery.’”

Chief Paul remains cautiously hopeful that when the prime minister gets the full story, he may change his mind on the jurisdiction issue.

“With the environment, I haven’t been extremely happy with Trudeau. But he has a lot of projects coming his way, so we don’t try to read too much into it,” she said.

“Everyone is waiting to see what he will do once Northern Pulp files its plan.”

Beneath her admirable attempt to be fair to the government, and to respect the heavy workloads that the prime minister and his ministers undoubtedly have, Chief Paul’s emotions are close to the surface.

“I met with Minister Carolyn Bennett a few weeks ago. I asked her if Trudeau is fully aware of the complex situation that is happening here. She is our rights and reconciliation minister, she has to step up, that’s her job. I didn’t want to sound angry, but how can you not be angry? I am angry.”

She’s not the only angry person in Pictou County.

Mary Gorman, a tireless defender of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a woman who has been voted a green champion for her 30 years of environmental advocacy, is unhappy that residents have to go begging for a federal environmental assessment of the pipe.

“I find it appalling that we even had to go to this effort. We shouldn’t be fighting for an assessment. That’s what these politicians are elected to do. That’s what these departments were created for,” she said.

“Five provinces feed off the Gulf. PEI and New Brunswick lobsters spawn in the Northumberland Strait. They migrate. DFO doesn’t have a clue where lobsters are outside the commercial fishing seasons. So how can they let the pipe go directly into their spawning grounds?”

The potential losses are unimaginable. Nova Scotia is Canada’s number one exporter of seafood. In 2017, exports totalled $2 billion, including $947 million in lobster sales. By comparison, exports of chemical wood pulp accounted for $241 million.

There is also another worry about the mill and Boat Harbour that few people talk about.

What happens if the mill isn’t able to build its new treatment system before the deadline in 2020? With 2018 drawing to a close, Northern Pulp still hasn’t filed its project plan.

If the new system isn’t in place by the deadline, what does the Nova Scotia government do? Enforce the Boat Harbour Act and close the operation down? Or grant an extension to the company that would allow Northern Pulp to continue using Boat Harbour to treat its effluent?

Hebert, the lawyer for Pictou Landing First Nation, thinks there is a distinct possibility that Northern Pulp will not be able to do all the things it needs to do before the 2020 deadline. The company has not produced a fisheries impact assessment, nor filed an environmental assessment which must be part of its project application.

“At this stage, what I’m concerned about most is the timing,” he said.

And so the residents here remain in a state of suspended animation, waiting for the company.

With the prime minister denying jurisdiction in the matter, fishermen here are facing the distinct possibility of a Kinder Morgan at sea scenario in the waters of the Northumberland Strait. If Nova Scotia approves Northern Pulp’s new treatment system and Ottawa remains a bystander, fishermen will be the last line of defence against the pipe.

“We don’t have a plan. We have an attitude,” MacCarthy said of his fellow fisherman. “There will be no pipe in the Strait.”

He said they had the biggest rally in Nova Scotia history over the pipe, which saw 3,500 people and 200 boats come out on a very poor day.

According to Gunning, an armada of fishermen is prepared to sail and to stand up for the ocean and their livelihood, if that’s what it comes to.

“There are 95 fishermen ready to go to jail over this, and thousands more behind them. If they want to put that pipe in the Strait, they’re going to have to send down the Navy.”

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