Northern Pulp

The Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County opened in 1967. For more than half a century, it polluted air and water in Nova Scotia, heavily influenced provincial forestry policies and successive governments, absorbed untold tens of millions of dollars in loans and grants, introduced clearcutting and herbicide spraying, and spawned wave after wave of protest.

The mill would never have existed had the provincial government of Robert Stanfield not hired two men to lie to Pictou Landing First Nation, claim that millions of gallons of pulp effluent flowing into the estuary A’se’K (later Boat Harbour) would not harm it, and thus deceive them into allowing the precious water body to be used for pulp waste, something the late Mi’kmaq elder and scholar, Daniel Paul deemed “criminal.”

Boat Harbour has been called one of Canada’s worst examples of environmental racism.

Over the years, provincial governments of all stripes continued to pump millions into the Northern Pulp mill – owned first by four U.S. companies before being acquired in 2011 by Paper Excellence, part of the multi-billion-dollar corporate empire of the Wijaya (also Widjaja) family of Indonesia.

In 2015, the Liberal government of Stephen McNeil fulfilled a promise to Pictou Landing First Nation and passed the Boat Harbour Act, giving Paper Excellence until January 2020 to get a new effluent treatment facility up and running. When it failed to come up with an acceptable plan, Paper Excellence found itself without an effluent treatment facility and put the mill into hibernation.

Paper Excellence then filed a lawsuit against the province for $450 million for revenue it claims it lost because of the mill’s closure. Northern Pulp – owned by Paper Excellence – sought creditor protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court in June 2020.  Its largest creditor by far was its owner, Paper Excellence. However, it also still owed the province of Nova Scotia more than $86 million. Paper Excellence continues to tell the British Columbia Court that it planned to modernize and re-open the mill.

There's Something in the Water

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Oscar and Emmy award-nominated actor-director Elliot (Ellen) Page and co-director Ian Daniel engage in deeply personal and political dialogue with women at the forefront of some of Nova Scotia’s most urgent environmental crises. Based on the book of the same name by Ingrid Waldron, There’s Something in the Water explores the topic of environmental racism, poignantly shining a light on the Canadian government’s current and historical decisions to prioritize the profits of large corporations over the health of indigenous and black communities.

The full documentary is available on NetFlix

The official trailer is available on You Tube by clicking here.

Joan Baxter has reported extensively on Northern Pulp and their owners Paper Excellence. The most recent articles are most likely behind a Halifax Examiner paywall, available only to subscribers of the newspaper. If it is at all possible, please consider suppporting this independant news source and its world-class investivgative journalist.

December 13, 2023  Northern Pulp’s $450 million lawsuit looming over Nova Scotia
December 12, 2023  Northern Pulp wants bankruptcy hearing kicked down the road again to june 2024
October 10, 2023  Absolute disrespect and a slap in the face Paper Excellence owner refuses to speak with Parliamentary Committee
July 16, 2023  Paper Excellence owns the pollution-spewing Northern Pulp mill, has poisoned a First Nation, isnt paying $85 million it owes Nova Scotia and is leaving its pensioners hanging, but its been named one of Canada’s “best 50 corporate citizens” 
June 7, 2023  Natural Resources refuses to summon Paper Excellence’s Wijaya
June 5, 2023  Regulators-stonewall-parliamentary-committee-looking-into-ownership-of-Paper-Excellence
June 1, 2023 Internal documents show Nova Scotias  Liberal government assumed Northern Pulp links to Asia Pulp & Paper, links Paper Excellence execs deny/
May 31, 2023 Parliamentary-committee-may-summon-Paper-Excellence-owner-Jackson-Wijaya
May 1, 2023  Northern Pulp granted 4 month creditor protection extension lists big demands for concessions from Nova Scotia
April 28, 2023 Northern Pulp wants to burn biomass and sell the energy
April 19, 2023 Nova Scotia NDP to ask natural resources committee to look into Paper Excellence
April 16, 2023 Dalhousie study finds Northern Pulp mill was by far the biggest polluter near Pictou
April 12, 2023 NDP Natural Resources critic Charlie Angus speaks about Paper Excellence
March 31, 2023  Parliamentary Committee to investigate ownership of Paper Excellence
March 22, 2023 Media investigation into Paper Excellence ignites concerns on Parliament Hill over the company’s mysterious ownership, Chinese ties and rapid expansion in Canada. This is the seventh of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series.
March 17, 2023  Canada is a world laggard in sustainable forestry say critics and Paper Excellences expansion threatens this country’s boreal forests. This is the sixth of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series.
March 14, 2023 Nova Scotia ops for forest certification scheme critics call greenwashing This is the fifth of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series.
March 10, 2023  Paper Excellences rapid expansion in Canada is a fibre grab to feed mills in China say critics. This is the forth of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series.
March 9, 2023  Are Paper Excellence and Asia Pulp and Paper linked companies? They say they arent. Here’s what we’ve learned. This is the third of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series.
March 2, 2023  Paper Excellance and the environmental insult to a First Nation community This is the second of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series
March 1, 2023 How an email from China triggered an international investigative jouralism project. This is the first of a series of articles resulting from a yearlong investigation into Paper Excellence. The project was spearheded by Deforestation Inc. The Examiner partnered with journalists in France (Le Monde, Radio France), Canada (CBC, Glacier Media), and the United States (Inside Climate News) to produce this series.
November 7, 2022 The curious case of ‘Red Roof Events’: A ‘global leading speakers agency’ contacted a Nova Scotia lawyer with strange questions about his work for groups opposed to Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment facility. Then the agency vanished.
October 31, 2022 British Columbia Supreme Court grants Northern Pulp six-month creditor protection extension; Nova Scotia takes no position
October 31, 2022 Northern Pulp wants another six month delay in B.C. court and forced mediation with Nova Scotia
October 24, 2022 Report: Paper Excellence, the owner of Northern Pulp, is part of the corporate group of Asia Pulp & Paper and Sinar Mas. This matters to Nova Scotians.
July 25, 2022 A quietly negotiated trade agreement with Indonesia is a bad deal for Canada. 
July 6, 2022 An Indonesian company is increasingly controlling Canada’s pulp industry, but regulators seem unwilling to act.
June 11, 2022 The “weird” legal mechanism being used by Northern Pulp in its $450 million lawsuit against Nova Scotia. Northern Pulp’s biggest debt is a paper debt to its owner, Paper Excellence, and that indebtedness is being used to circumvent Nova Scotia’s environmental laws.
June 9, 2022 The demise of Mountain Equipment Co-op could spell expensive trouble for Nova Scotia. In 2020, a federal law and a BC judge dismantled Mountain Equipment Co-op. Now, the same federal law that was used to destroy MEC is being cited by Paper Excellence in its $450 million lawsuit against the province of Nova Scotia related to the creditor protection of Northern Pulp. And the case is being heard by the same judge
April 20, 2022   Northern Pulp says it is ‘insolvent’ and can’t pay its pension obligations, but it’s got plenty of cash to bankroll legal assaults on Nova Scotia’s government and laws.  
April 11, 2022 Northern Pulp is in a polluting league of its own: A new study shows the mill’s emissions of some air pollutants greatly exceeded federal reporting thresholds and were often much higher than other mills in Atlantic Canada.

April 4, 2022

 

Northern Pulp and its wealthy owners seem intent on taking Nova Scotians to the cleaner: But the Pictou pulp mill has had plenty of Nova Scotian accomplices helping them fleece the province.
March 21, 2022       Premier Tim Houston orders ‘Friends of a New Northern Pulp’ sign removed from Minister Pat Dunn’s constituency office window.
March 9, 2022 Northern Pulp has a new set of “friends.” But the “friends” look familiar, and the “new” Northern Pulp sure looks a lot like the same old Northern Pulp.
March 1, 2022         Dalhousie University’s decision to source “sustainable biomass” from J.D. Irving and Wagner a “piss-off.” News that Emera’s Brooklyn biomass plant is out of commission is making waves in Nova Scotia, while Dal’s biomass facility in Truro garners little publicity
December 20, 2021 The Pictou mill: fleecing Nova Scotia for 53 years – and counting. The company claims it’s the victim of unfair treatment in Nova Scotia, and that it should be paid hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. But what about the high costs Nova Scotians paid for the mill for more than half a century? A quick tally of those suggests the real victims are the people of this province, whose politicians sold them down the river.
December 17, 2021 Northern Pulp mill plans “best in class” or best in BS? The Paper Excellence company that is part of the global corporate empire of the Widjaja family has submitted plans for the “transformation” of its hibernating pulp mill to the Nova Scotia government for approval, even as it sues the same government for hundreds of millions of dollars.
December 6, 2021 Proposed Wentworth wind farm gets blowback. While local group fears negative effects, Northern Pulp stands to profit from the giant wind project because it’s on Northern Pulp land purchased with a loan from Nova Scotians.
November 5, 2021 Why isn’t Northern Pulp using the wastewater treatment plant next door at Canso Chemicals? Is mercury an issue?
October 31, 2021 Woo and sue: Northern Pulp’s strategy in Nova Scotia.
October 20, 2021 Northern Pulp is demanding it be given “more than $100 million” from the province. 
September 7, 2021 Wastewater from Northern Pulp’s hibernating paper mill is being discharged into the Bay of Fundy.
July 26, 2021  Paper Excellence’s very big deal. Northern Pulp’s parent company is set to acquire the North American pulp and paper giant Domtar. While the acquisition is getting very little media attention in Canada, around the world many people are worried about it — for many good reasons.
July 21, 2021   What are Paper Excellence’s real plans for Northern Pulp? This week two men presented the company’s plans for a “complete transformation” of the the mill at a special Pictou Town Council meeting. They faced persistent questions and made some telling comments that do not bode well for Nova Scotia.
July 16, 2021 Paper Excellence holds a media show and piles on the PR. Northern Pulp’s owner is working on a $350 million “complete transformation” for the mill in Pictou County, but doesn’t say whether any of that money will be public, or why Nova Scotians should trust them.
June 10, 2021 Public engagement, future of the forestry, and the Harvest Plans Map Viewer. Activists says the online tool where Nova Scotians can submit feedback on what happens to the forests on public lands is inaccessible and lacks historical data.
May 12, 2021 Northern Pulp is “insolvent,” but the company that owns it, Paper Excellence, is on a $3 billion buying spree
April 20, 2021 How the Biodiversity Act was killed. Forest Nova Scotia, which represents the biggest forestry players, gets an awful lot of public money — including millions of dollars to administer a forest roads program panned by the auditor general. It also has a paid lobbyist swaying the policies of the very government that funds it, and who started working on its behalf just as the Biodiversity Act was gutted.
April 15, 2021 Communications specialist: “hundreds of thousands of dollars” were spent to produce “blatant lies” for the campaign against the Biodiversity Act.
March 23, 2021       The most ‘Trump-like thing’ in Nova Scotia: how big forestry companies gutted the Biodiversity Act.
February 24, 2021 The French Connection. People in southern France are battling pollution at a paper mill owned by a corporate behemoth: Paper Excellence Canada, the owner of the Northern Pulp Mill in Nova Scotia.
January 7, 2021 Paper Excellence in France: different country, same game plan
December 9, 2020 Northern Pulp is misleading the British Columbia Supreme Court about how the environmental assessment process works in Nova Scotia.
November 6, 2020 Excellence in paper profits.  Court documents show that after Northern Pulp made $59.9 million in loan repayments to its corporate owner Paper Excellence, it asked the province of Nova Scotia for $50 million in new financing, over and above the $85 million it already owes the province. The province declined to provide new loans, but did agree to a freeze on all payments from the existing loans.
July 19, 2020 Corporate shell game: Part 1. Northern Pulp seeks protection from creditors in a BC court – and its largest creditor is its owner, Paper Excellence.
July 21, 2020 Corporate shell game: Part 2. Northern Pulp-affiliated companies say that without major concessions, they won’t be able to pay back nearly $86 million they owe to the province of Nova Scotia. So far, however, the government has not caved, and is not agreeing to new financing.
May 12, 2020 Nova Scotia government doles out $10 million more for Northern Pulp  The effluent pipeline may have been turned off but the provincial money pipeline continues to flow
April 10, 2020 Northern Pulp statement off-based and ill-timed during the COVID-19 crisis
Jan. 31, 2020  The province issues tough new orders to Northern Pulp
January 24, 2020 Northern Pulp takes province to court: The saga continues   The unfolding saga of the 53-year-old Pictou County pulp mill operated by Northern Pulp Nova Scotia – a Paper Excellence company that is part of the corporate empire of the billionaire Widjaja family of Indonesia – continues to get “curiouser and curiouser” as Alice in Wonderland once remarked.
January 10, 2020 Northern Pulp, past and future: “It ain’t over till it’s over”
December 20, 2019 The Northern Pulp saga is a “really, really, really, really difficult time” for Pictou Landing First Nation.
December 17, 2019 No federal assessment will be required for Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment project.
December 17, 2019 Pictou Landing First Nation: “We are sticking to the January 31, 2020 date.”
December 11, 2019 Northern Pulp lobbyists and the revolving door with government.
December 9, 2019  Saltwire finds one scientist who thinks Northern Pulp’s effluent isn’t toxic
December 8, 2019 Deciding Northern Pulp’s future: A tangled mess of dubious science, loans and liabilities will determine who government officials will act in coming days – and how much it will cost Nova Scotians.
November 21, 2019 Northern Pulp’s “political game”: It’s decision time for the Nova Scotia government. It will either approve a pipeline for pumping mill effluent into the Northumberland Strait, or won’t. And it will either extend the Boat Harbour Act, or won’t. Those affected by the mill operation are laying out their case and preparing next moves.
October 6, 2019  Pictou Landing First Nation to Stephen McNeil: Honour the Boat Harbour Act and No Pipe in the Strait.
October 3, 2019 Northern Pulp’s sci-fi future
July 8, 2019 Northern Pulp Mill’s missing environmental data.  The mill says its effluent comfortably meets federal regulations, but a new study published by Dalhousie researchers suggests there is no way to know
April 9, 2019 Nova Scotia has a mercury problem. Facilities associated with Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent pipe are immediately adjacent to a mercury-contaminated toxic waste site left over from the Canso Chemicals operation.
March 7, 2019 The Canso Chemicals mystery: With the chemical plant long gone, why is the company still alive? And what about all that mercury pollution?
March 5, 2019 Northern Pulp’s environmental documents, missing mercury, a pulp mill that never was, and oodles of contradictions.
February 21, 2019  Northern Pulp says it “cares” – but for whom and what?
November 3, 2018 Containing Northern Pulp’s mess: A half century of toxic waste in Boat Harbour, a leaky pipeline, and what happens next in the mill saga.
March 20, 2018 Battle for the mill: The plan to pipe effluent from the Northern Pulp mill into the Northumberland Strait is dividing the community of Pictou, pitting neighbour and fishermen against mill workers.

This book explores the power that a single industry can wield over an entire province, namely Nova Scotia in eastern Canada. It is a story that has been waiting to be told. With a powerful foreword by Elizabeth May, leader of Canada’s Green Party and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, British Columbia, it has local, national and even global relevance.

More information here.