McNeil’s position on Port Hawkesbury jobs risky: Lewis

September 21, 2013

(Port Hawkesbury, N.S.) NDP candidate Bert Lewis says Stephen McNeil’s position on forestry and mills is very risky for the industry and would endanger thousands of jobs.

“The NDP fought to keep jobs for Nova Scotians in Port Hawkesbury and we’re committed to keep fighting to make our communities stronger, but Stephen McNeil obviously doesn’t have the experience or the commitment to protect jobs in our mills or in our forestry industry,” said Lewis. “Mr. McNeil is not worth the risk for families in this province – his plan for our forestry industry would create chaos in the lives of thousands of Nova Scotians.”

In a September 16 CBC Cape Breton interview the host asked McNeil to respond to the following: “If the Dexter government hadn’t stepped in, there wouldn’t be any work happening,” at Port Hawkesbury Paper.

At the end of a long and confusing answer, McNeil finally admits that he would attempt to help millworkers transition people out of jobs, but he would not have fought to protect their jobs in the first place:

“You’re seeing, there’s a– there’s a– there’s a– hardwood flooring company here in Cape Breton, there’s one in Antigonish County. It’s maximizing the true value of that fibre. It’s moving it out and it’s ignoring the fact that government wouldn’t be there to help the community in terms of diversifying its economy and growing jobs… There is a role for government to play in economic development, there is a role for us to ensure that communities– particularly ones that have one major employer have a way to transition itself to new opportunities.”

The Nova Scotia NDP fought to keep 1,400 jobs at Port Hawkesbury Paper in 2012. The forestry industry in Nova Scotia includes jobs in logging, trucking, silviculture and work in three saw mills. This work provides thousands of good jobs for families in Cape Breton and around the province.

“It’s simply unbelievable to me that Mr. McNeil would make such uninformed comments about such an important industry for Cape Bretoners,” said Lewis. “The NDP fought to protect the jobs of thousands of Nova Scotians – electing McNeil’s Liberals would be much too big a risk.”

The NDP will: deliver better health care where and when people need it, fight for good jobs and stronger communities, keep the HST off home energy and take it off more family essentials, give our kids a better start, stand up for seniors, build the Maritime Link and keep the budget balanced to protect services for families.

The election will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 8th.