Premier calls on N.S. Fishermen to end Blockade of Pipeline Survey Vessel

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s premier says he’s hoping fishermen end a blockade of survey boats hired to examine a route for an undersea effluent pipeline, but he has no plans to extend the company’s deadline.

Stephen McNeil said Thursday he’d advise fishermen to let the seismic research in the Northumberland Strait take place because it’s a lawful activity.

“My hope is that people will allow people to do their jobs. What they (the company) is doing is seismic work …. Then the ongoing public consultation will have to take place as to what will be or wouldn’t be,” the premier said after a cabinet meeting.

However, he also said it’s up the Northern Pulp mill near Pictou, N.S., to decide whether to call in the RCMP to end the blockade.

McNeil said opponents should recognize an environmental review would allow for public debate over a proposed pipeline that would end the use of a waste-water plant located at Boat Harbour.

Still, as fishermen continued a blockade of the harbour mouth they started earlier this week, the timeline for completing the pipeline before a provincially legislated deadline looked increasingly tight.

The province has a requirement of January 2020 for Northern Pulp to stop sending its waste to the First Nation territory.

The normal period of time for an environmental review is close to two months, and work on a potential pipeline would need to begin during construction seasons in 2019 to be complete by early the following year.

The Liberal government has vowed that after half a century of toxic waste — with 70 million litres of treated waste daily still flowing lagoons on the edge of the Pictou Landing First Nation reserve — Northern Pulp must find an alternative.

As the weeks slip by, McNeil said it’s up to the company and the community to figure out a way forward.

“The timeline is tight there’s no question. … It’s up to the company. The company knew the deadline. The community knows the deadline,” said the premier.

“We’ll continue to go out and work with the community, communicate back to the community about public hearings … There are three elected public officials in that area, they can tell me where they stand on the issue … I’ve heard from none of them about it.”

Tory leader Tim Houston, who is one of the three members of the legislature for the area, said that wasn’t true.

The new Progressive Conservative leader said McNeil has forgotten he sent his office a letter calling for a more intensive level of environmental review than has been approved.

Houston said he wants a level 2 environmental review, as has occurred in the planned cleanup of the Boat Harbour lagoon, rather than the level 1 set for the effluent pipeline.

In a class 1 review, the proponent does a large portion of the work to determine the potential impacts of the project. After it is filed with the province, the province will review the application, give the public 30 days to voice any opinion on the project and then make a decision on whether it is approved, conditionally approved or denied.

A class 2 involves a 275-day timeline that requires a full public hearing and involves a panel of external environmental experts.

Houston said as it stands, the community has lost confidence in the process, and this is why fishermen are blocking the harbour.

“The blockade is a byproduct of the government’s failure to say it’s going to properly scrutinize the project. Fishers are worried,” he said.

The group of Northumberland Strait fishermen have said they will block any survey boats from entering the strait by placing their own vessels in its path.

Fisherman Mike Noel, one of the spokesmen for the group, said there were no boats blocking the harbour on Thursday due to rough weather, but they can respond quickly if a survey vessel tries to use the port.

Noel said there are no plans to change course based on the premier’s comments, as the strait’s ecosystem is at stake.

“He (Stephen McNeil) hasn’t had any conversation with us, so no, we have no thoughts to stop anyway until we have some conversation with the government anyway,” he said.

A spokesperson for Paper Excellence Canada, the Richmond, B.C., company which owns the pulp mill, has said the survey data would be of interest to various parties, and that it will work with authorities to ensure the safety of all involved.

The company has stated publicly a number of times that there are no other viable options than an undersea pipeline for large mills like the one it operates, and said it believes the treated effluent would not damage the fisheries in the strait.

Paper Excellence has also said the mill and its 300 employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline to the strait.

By Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press


Slow-Motion Showdown Continues on Banks of Shubenacadie River

Mi’kmaq activists Dorene Bernard, right, and Ducie Howe stand on the shores of the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Alton Natural Gas Storage LP’s plan to build natural gas storage caverns meets resistance

On the muddy banks of Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie River, Dorene Bernard is listening for sounds that will let her know the historic waterway is about to change direction.

“The wind will pick up, and you’ll start hearing the water and waves coming,” the Mi’kmaq activist says as she walks through the tall grass, carrying a large fan made from an eagle’s wing.

The Shubenacadie is a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy. But when the world’s highest tides rise in the bay, salt water flows up the river for almost half its length, creating a wave — or tidal bore — that pushes against the river’s current.

Protesters at the Shubenacadie River say despite what AltaGas said in their release on Friday, very little work on the project has taken place in the last month. (Shawn Maloney)

It’s an unusual natural phenomenon that draws tourists from around the world. It has also helped support the Mi’kmaq for more than 13,000 years.

“This is a major highway, a major artery for our people,” says Bernard, a social worker, academic and member of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in nearby Indian Brook, N.S.

“Our ancestors are buried along here … It has a very significant historical, spiritual and cultural relevance to who we are.”

Plan to pump brine into river

Before the bore arrives, the river is like glass on this humid, windless day.

However, Bernard is mindful that another change is coming for the river and her people.

For the past 12 years, a Calgary-based company has been planning to pump water from the river to an underground site 12 kilometres away, where it will be used to flush out salt deposits, creating huge caverns that will eventually store natural gas.

A sign marks the entrance to Mi’kmaq encampment near the Shubenacadie River, a 72-kilometre tidal river that cuts through the middle of Nova Scotia and flows into the Bay of Fundy, in Fort Ellis, N.S. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

AltaGas says the leftover brine solution will be pumped into the river, twice a day at high tide, over a two- to three-year period.

The initial plan is to create two caverns about a kilometre underground. But the company has said it may need as many as 15 caverns, which would be linked to the nearby Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline, about 60 kilometres north of Halifax.

The storage is needed by an AltaGas subsidiary, Heritage Gas, which sells natural gas in the Halifax area and a few other Nova Scotia communities. It says it wants to stockpile its product during the colder months to protect its customers from price shocks when demand spikes.

Drilling for the first two caverns has been completed.

$130M project largely on hold

After years of consultations, legal wrangling and scientific monitoring, the company’s Nova Scotia-based subsidiary, Alton Natural Gas Storage LP, has said it plans to start the brining process some time later this year.

Bernard says her people are not going to let that happen.

The $130-million project has been largely on hold since 2014 when Mi’kmaq activists started a series of protests that culminated two years later in the creation of a year-round protest camp at the work site northwest of Stewiacke.

Felix Bernard walks near a Mi’kmaq encampment along the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

“We’re not going to let anyone destroy our water,” Bernard said in a recent interview, declining to elaborate on what will happen if police or security guards try to reclaim the site.

“The impacts will be huge. You can’t just put something in your vein and think it’s not going to affect your whole body.”

She says the company has consulted with Indigenous leaders, but she insists it has done a poor job of reaching out to the Mi’kmaq people, particularly those who are members of her First Nation.

“There was never a public hearing with Alton Gas in our community. Never.”

Permits secured, consultations

For its part, the company has insisted it has consulted with local Indigenous people, and the provincial government has agreed.

More importantly, the company says it has already secured the permits it needs to start pumping water from the river.

At the entrance to the protest camp off Riverside Road, a steel gate is covered in placards and a canvas lean-to. A sign that warns against trespassing — installed by the company with the help of the RCMP — has been covered with a blanket.

Protesters maintain a Mi’kmaq encampment near the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

In May of last year, protesters built a tiny, two-storey house out of straw bales and lime plaster. It has a dirt floor, wood stove, bunks and plenty of provisions inside.

There’s also a garden. Chickens and geese roam the makeshift squatters camp.

On this day, there are only three protesters — they call themselves water protectors — at the site. But some supporters from Halifax later drop by for a visit.

“We have a lot of allies, settlers who are supporting this camp — it’s not just the Mi’kmaq,” says Ducie Howe, Bernard’s cousin and a resident of what she calls Shubenacadie Reserve No. 14, the original name for the nearby First Nation.

“There’s people from all over who will come. And they’ll keep coming.”

‘Giving out permits? Those are illegal’

Howe says Nova Scotians need to be reminded that the company is operating on unceded Mi’kmaq territory.

“We signed peace and friendship treaties,” she says. “We never signed treaties that gave up any part of our lands … Giving out permits? Those are illegal. They didn’t have the right to do that.”

Closer to the river, there’s a smaller, flat-topped wooden building that Bernard describes as a truckhouse. The reference is to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty, which states that the Mi’kmaq are free to build “truckhouses” along the river to facilitate trade.

In the distance, a small hut for security guards sits empty.

Company spokeswoman Lori Maclean says some protesters have been served with trespassing notices.

“The company is aware of the activity of protesters at the site and continues to engage with law enforcement and the community,” she said in a recent email. “Alton sites are work areas that are open only to Alton staff or approved contractors.”

Alton has received the environmental and industrial approvals it needs to proceed, including two environmental assessments and an independent third-party science review. However, provincial Environment Minister Margaret Miller has yet to make a decision about an appeal of the industrial approval filed by the Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Mi’kmaq activist Ducie Howe carries a sign at an encampment near the Shubenacadie River. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

As for the brine that will be pumped into the river, the company says the peak release on each tidal cycle will be approximately 5,000 cubic metres, which will be mixed in with four million cubic metres of brackish tidal flow.

The company says the brine flowing into the Minas Basin “would not be detectable and would be insignificant in terms of the natural fluctuation of salinity the ecosystem is subject to during each tidal cycle.”

‘Brine will not impact the ecosystem’

Alton Gas also says the intake pipe will not suck in fish or small organisms because the water will be filtered through a rock wall, and the intake flow will be low enough to allow all fish to swim away.

“The requirements of our monitoring program with provincial and federal regulators will ensure that the brine will not impact the ecosystem,” the company’s website says.

Before Bernard and Howe leave the river, the pair stand at the edge of the bank to make an offering through song.

The lyrics are sung in the original Ojibwa and then in Mi’kmaq: “Water, I love you. I thank you. I respect you. Water is life.”

By Michael MacDonald · The Canadian Press · Aug 05, 2018


Fishing boats converge on Nova Scotia harbour as part of effluent pipe protest

Fishing boats pass the Northern Pulp mill as concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill's plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S., on Friday, July 6, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Fishing boats pass the Northern Pulp mill as concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest the mill’s plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S., on Friday, July 6, 2018. (CP/Andrew Vaughan)

Dozens of fishing boats steamed towards a hulking pulp mill in northern Nova Scotia on Friday, marking the climax of a boisterous demonstration that saw more than 1,000 protesters call on the mill’s owners to scuttle a plan to dump millions of litres of effluent a day into the Northumberland Strait.

Chanting “No pipe, no way!” a long line of marchers streamed onto the pier of a sun-drenched marina in Pictou, which is directly across the town’s harbour from the massive Northern Pulp mill.

A fishermen’s group estimated that about 200 boats were part of the flotilla that sailed into the breezy, choppy harbour around 1 p.m., then circled back to the marina as a protest rally got underway.

Though the kraft pulp mill provides much-needed jobs for the town of about 3,000 residents, its pipeline plan has raised concerns about the impact on the lobster fishery, other seafood businesses and protected areas along the coast.

After years of pumping 70 million litres of treated wastewater daily into lagoons on the edge of the nearby Pictou Landing First Nation reserve, Northern Pulp wants to dump it directly into the strait.

The mill’s parent company, Paper Excellence based in Richmond, B.C., has said the mill and its 300 employees will be out of work unless it can build a pipeline that would meet all federal environmental standards: “The bottom line is no pipe equals no mill.”

Kathy Cloutier, a spokeswoman for Paper Excellence, said in a statement that of the 131 kraft mills operating in North America, about 20 per cent use a system like the one proposed for the mill at Abercrombie Point. The remaining 80 per cent use a system similar to the lagoon system now in use.

Cloutier said options are limited, as no other effluent systems are used in either the U.S. or Canada.

“Northern Pulp has thoroughly investigated treatment options available,” Cloutier said. “This $70-million project will considerably reduce the need for bleaching chemicals by 30 to 40 per cent to whiten the pulp as it progresses through the system.”

Nonetheless, Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said her people’s fight against the mill isn’t over.

“There have been many people working tirelessly for years to bring this to the forefront,” she said after stepping from one of the fishing boats in the harbour.

“This is not going to end today. We will continue to be on this water because we have a duty to protect all that lives in the water.”

Concerned residents, fishermen and Indigenous groups protest a pulp mill’s plan to dump millions of litres of effluent daily into the Northumberland Strait in Pictou, N.S on Friday, July 6, 2018. (CP/Andrew Vaughan)

Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan told the crowd that the province’s decision to conduct a Class 1 environmental assessment wasn’t good enough. He wants a federal environmental assessment.

“The town of Pictou will continue to take the firm position that protection of the fishing industry is paramount,” he said, sunshine glinting off the large chain of office around his neck.

Earlier in the day, P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan issued a statement saying he had written to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to express his concerns about the potential impact on the ecosystem of the Northumberland Strait.

“Given the amount of time that has passed and fresh uncertainty about the Northern Pulp proposal, I believe there is now an opportunity to take a more fully collaborative approach,” the letter says.

Under provincial legislation passed in 2015, the mill has until 2020 to replace its current treatment plant in nearby Boat Harbour, and McNeil confirmed Thursday he is sticking with that deadline.

He said he didn’t know much about the protest, adding that he wasn’t surprised by the reaction to the pipeline proposal.

“Any time there’s a development, there will be those who have opposing views, and they are polarizing at times,” McNeil said after he shuffled his cabinet Thursday, appointing a new environment minister in the process.

Before the protest got underway in Pictou, Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the province should abandon its plans to conduct a Class 1 assessment and instead order a more stringent Class 2 assessment.

If that doesn’t happen, then the federal government should be approached to conduct a comprehensive review, he said.

“Either of these would accomplish the goal of having entirely trustworthy information in front of everybody,” Burrill said.

He also called attention the mill’s spotty environmental record as its ownership has changed hands several times since it opened in 1967.

The lagoons contain nearly 50 years worth of toxic waste, which former Nova Scotia environment minister Iain Rankin has called one of the worst cases of environmental racism in Canada.

In February, groups representing fishermen in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and New Brunswick suspended further meetings with the mill after voicing frustration over its insistence on a pipe.

Earlier this month, the company said the proposed route of a pipeline would be changed to avoid potential ice damage. That means the company has delayed filing its environmental assessment with the province.

The mill generates over $200 million annually for the provincial economy by making 280,000 tonnes of kraft pulp annually, primarily for tissue, towel, toilet and photo copy paper.

The Canadian Press 


Nova Scotia RCMP to Offer Eagle Feather Option for Swearing Legal Oaths

In what is being described as a first for the RCMP, the Mounties in Nova Scotia are now offering victims, witnesses and police officers the option to swear legal oaths on an eagle feather, instead of using a Bible or offering an affirmation.

The RCMP say the eagle feather will be used in the same way as a Bible or affirmation, and may also be offered as a source of comfort at local detachments.

A special smudging ceremony was held Monday at Nova Scotia RCMP Headquarters, where the province’s lieutenant governor, Arthur LeBlanc, was joined by provincial Justice Minister Mark Furey and Chief Leroy Denny, on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations.

As part of the ceremony, Indigenous elder Jane Abram of Millbrook First Nations cleansed eagle feathers through a smudging ceremony, and Keptin Donald Julien, executive director of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, offered a blessing.

LeBlanc said the use of eagle feathers marks a significant step toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

As the ceremony concluded, eagle feathers were distributed to detachment commanders throughout the province.

“The eagle feather is a powerful symbol and reflects the spirituality and tradition of the Mi’kmaq people,” Furey said in a statement. “I believe the use of the eagle feather is an important step forward in helping our justice system be more responsive and sensitive to Indigenous cultures.”

The Canadian Press


Alt-Right Group Posts Names, Photos of ‘Potentially Dangerous’ Cornwallis Protesters

Personal information about people who have shown interest in protests against an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax has been posted online. For privacy protection, CBC has published only the information of persons included in the story. (Twitter )

28 people ‘doxed’ by national socialist group, some labelled as mentally ill

By Nic Meloney, CBC News Posted: Jul 20, 2017

A group of self-described national socialists in Nova Scotia has posted personal information about people who have shown interest in protests calling for the removal of an Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax, labelling them as “potentially dangerous.”

Cornwallis was a governor of Nova Scotia. In 1749, he issued a so-called scalping proclamation offering a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

On Saturday, a large crowd protested around the statue and demanded the likeness of Halifax’s controversial founder be removed from a downtown park.

Demonstators had earlier threatened on Facebook to remove the statue but relented when municipal crews covered the monument in black cloth for the duration of the event.

An anonymous Twitter user affiliated with Cape Breton Alt Right published a list online last Thursday, releasing the names, photos and other identifying details of 28 people interested in the removal of the statue — in a process known on the internet as “doxing.”

The list, later shared and discussed on Facebook, also included categories like:

  • Group affiliation (anti-Fascist, Communist, anarchist, LGBT).
  • Associates/sexual partners.
  • Occupation.
  • Contact info/social media links.
  • Location.
  • Interests.

The final “notes” column identifies some people as being “mentally ill and unstable,” “extremely militant and dangerous,” having histories of being “drunk and disorderly” and being on police watch lists.

Tied to anti-fascist organization

The list included a ‘notes’ column, labelling some people as violent or mentally ill. (Twitter)

Adam Lemoine of North Sydney was doxed as having affiliations with Antifa, a far-left, anti-fascist organization. He said he was “blown away” when he found out, as he has never even been to a protest.

“The only information they had correct was my name and my hometown,” said Lemoine, who caught wind of the list after it was posted on Facebook.​

“They have me playing an instrument I didn’t play, in a band that no longer exists.”

Lemoine said he clicked “interested” on a Facebook event for a protest last Saturday at the Cornwallis statue to get updates on what happened.

He believes the Twitter user who posted the list saw that, put his name into a search engine and listed what they found.

Activists protest at the base of the Edward Cornwallis statue last weekend after Halifax staff covered it with a black sheet. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

List created with public safety in mind: group

Lemoine said that when he asked the Cape Breton Alt Right group to remove his name from the list, it responded by saying even if he could prove his details were wrong, the rest of the information would stay.

The group continues to maintain anonymity and refused to be interviewed by the CBC over the phone or in person on the grounds that it would be “inappropriate.”

In an emailed statement, however, the group said it has received death threats almost daily since the list was posted.

The statement goes on to compare the actions of Cornwallis demonstrators to the destruction of historical sites in Palmyra by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and indicates the list was compiled over the course of about two months “in the interest of public safety.”

“The community at large has a right to know the identities of those around them who may pose a threat to their immediate safety and a threat to their property,” said the two-page statement, signed only by “leadership.”

Wrongfully labelled

Tanner Leudy, a student at Cape Breton University, shared the same event page for the Cornwallis protest on Facebook though he knew he couldn’t attend.

Leudy said he had never even heard of Antifa before the list linked him to the organization and he’s worried about how being associated with such a group could affect the future of those who’ve been doxed.

“I’ve never done anything to warrant [the inclusion],” said Leudy. “Being labelled as a dangerous protester, even if it’s not true, isn’t something that employers will want in their workplace.”

Anthony Leudy says he shared a Facebook event and then was wrongfully labelled ‘potentially dangerous’ by an anonymous Twitter user. (Twitter)

The group maintains all of the information was gathered within the public domain, referencing social media and news interviews, but David Fraser, an internet privacy lawyer in Halifax, said it’s the language of the list’s “notes” column that may push legal boundaries.

Questioning the legality

Information compiled from social media platforms is fair game when it comes to doxing, said Fraser.

However, he added that legal proceedings on doxing, as rare as they are, require that what has been published is explored as much as why it has been published.

“To be defamatory, all something has to do is to harm your reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person,” said Fraser.

“It would seem to me that [the notes] at the end of the list would be, on its face, defamatory and the onus would shift to the person who said them to justify them as being true.”

Fraser said the Halifax Proud Boys provide a good example of doxing.

He said they were “implicitly doxed” by volunteering their personal information when showing up at an Indigenous rally on Canada Day in Cornwallis Park. They were recorded and the videos eventually made it to their workplace, resulting in their reprimand.

But, Fraser said, it’s part of the “rough and tumble” of freely expressed politics.

CBC News reached out to the Cape Breton Regional Police, the Halifax Regional Police and the RCMP. They say no investigation is ongoing because no one has come forward with a complaint.

Intention to intimidate?

El Jones says the doxing proves the extremity of the racism surrounding the Edward Cornwallis statue issue. (Twitter)

El Jones, Halifax’s former poet laureate and a well-known, outspoken activist, said she is not surprised she ended up on the list.

“You hope that this is just some form of extreme reaction that’s perhaps just intended to intimidate people,” said Jones.

“[But] you have to take seriously the intent behind it, which is an attempt to harm.”




RCMP ‘Neutral’ As Mi’kmaq Set Up Camp On Island Near AltaGas Construction Site

Protesters say a small group of Mi'kmaq used the land to place a fishing trap and the aboriginal participants were within their treaty rights to use the area for fishing.

Protesters say a small group of Mi’kmaq used the land to place a fishing trap and the aboriginal participants were within their treaty rights to use the area for fishing.

The Canadian Press , Sept 12, 2016

STEWIACKE, N.S. — The RCMP says it is staying “neutral” as AltaGas Ltd. and Mi’kmaq protesters are at odds over aboriginal presence on a tiny island near the energy company’s proposed underground natural gas storage caverns.

Opponents of the Alton storage project briefly went out Sunday to the small island that formed where the tidal Shubenacadie River meets a channel in which briny water is to be discharged.

The Mounties said they’ve been contacted by the company and are aware of the incident that drew police cruisers to the scene, but the police force was not being definitive about what officers will do if similar incidents continue.

“The RCMP position on people entering the area behind the construction zone is … we are committed to remaining neutral on all matters. With this, our role in such matters is to keep the peace and to protect property,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dal Hutchinson in a telephone interview.

Cheryl Maloney, the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, said she was confident the Mi’kmaq have a right to be on the island for fishing purposes granted by treaty.

“We moved over to the island, but they (company security guards) couldn’t reach us because there was a channel in between,” she said.

The police were called to the site by Alton representatives and a number of RCMP cruisers waited near the scene, as a group of private security workers observed an encampment created by Mi’kmaq and other opponents of the storage project, which was approved earlier this year by the province.

Hutchinson said six or seven RCMP cruisers were at the scene on Sunday.

Maloney says she expects to hear from Alton (TSX:ALA) about the incident, but doesn’t believe the Mi’kmaq protesters broke any laws.

“I think the police were a little hesitant to arrest us for exercising our aboriginal treaty rights,” she said. As she spoke, the tentpoles and the Mi’kmaq flags were still flying at the site of the tiny island along the banks of the tidal river.

“Let them explain that to the courts if they feel we don’t have the right to be there. We do have the right to be there. We will be there,” she said.

The company says it respects the right of individuals to express their views, but adds the project has been approved by the Environment Department, and access to the work site is restricted for safety reasons.

Lori Maclean of AltaGas confirmed that law enforcement agencies were contacted on Monday about the Mi’kmaq presence on the island.

“We will continue to engage with the government, the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, local residents and other stakeholders to answer questions about Alton and to address concerns. Since 2006, Alton has been meeting with stakeholders including landowners, community members, government and the Mi’kmaq to share information and exchange viewpoints in a respectful manner,” she wrote.

The company notes the project has received all needed environmental and industrial approvals for the storage project, following over eight years of scientific monitoring of the tidal river.

“Brining is the process to be used at Alton to dissolve an underground salt formation and create the natural gas storage caverns. The water used to dissolve the salt will come from the tidal Shubenacadie River. The brine created by this process, a mixture of tidal water and the dissolved salt, will be released back into the river at a salinity level within the range of normal salinity for the river,” Maclean wrote.

Maloney said Mi’kmaq and local residents remain concerned that increasing salinity in the river poses a risk to some fish species.

The group has erected signs at the site declaring it is a conservation zone operated by the Sipekne’katik district of the Mi’kmaq people.

She said she and other volunteers plan to create a weir this week to catch fish and create some baseline data so that the Mi’kmaq can carry out their own scientific research to see what impact the project could have.

Maloney also said the Mi’kmaq protesters aren’t looking for confrontation, but are prepared to exercise aboriginal rights to use the river.

“We’re not budging. If Canada … doesn’t want to protect and defend us, we’re still going to stay here,” she said.

Maclean said construction is ongoing at Alton and a date for the start of brining has not been finalized. She notes that a court decision released in July affirms brining can take place.

Shell Awaiting Green Light For Offshore Drilling In Nova Scotia


By Black Powder | Red Power Media, Staff

The Canadian government gave Shell Canada Ltd. permission to drill for oil off Nova Scotia’s coast — and the company doesn’t need to cap an oil blowout for 3 weeks, potentially wreaking environmental havoc on marine life and coastal communities.

Pending approval from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), Shell will begin drilling the first of two exploratory wells within the next few months.

On June 15, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, signed off on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s assessment of Shell Canada’s Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Drilling Project.

The Harper government has accepted, with conditions, the environmental assessment that is one step in Shell Oil’s application to drill for oil off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Four ships are standing by in Halifax Harbour, waiting for Shell to get the green light to hunt for oil in the deep waters.

The two wells will be located in the Shelburne Basin about 250 kilometres offshore Halifax. The drilling would happen near major fishing grounds and the Sable Island National Park Reserve.

In recent weeks, concerns have been raised over regulations that would give the company 21 days to get equipment in place in the event of a major blowout.

A number of groups, including the Ecology Action Centre, Coldwater Lobster Association and Clean Ocean Action Committee, have opposed the idea of taking up to three weeks to cap a blowout.

A small group of fishermen, activists and politicians braved a cold, gray day to air concerns about offshore oil exploration during a protest on Shelburne’s waterfront on Oct. 3.

Queens-Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau said a plan that would allow oil companies three weeks to cap such a blowout was an insult to the fishing industry.

“It’s simply unacceptable,” he said.

As a result, the MLA is calling for an emergency meeting of the provincial Standing Committee on Resources to discuss the issue.

The April 2010 explosion at British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon offshore rig killed 11 workers. (U.S. Coast Guard/Associated Press)

The April 2010 explosion at British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon offshore rig killed 11 workers. (U.S. Coast Guard/Associated Press)

Shell Canada outlined some of its plans for the Shelburne Basin, an area with a geological makeup that is conducive to holding a sizable amount of hydrocarbons.

The company has plans to drill up to seven wells over a four-year period as part of a $1-billion exploration program.

It will drill another well called Monterrey Jack next year and then analyze the data culled from the two sites.

“If we find hydrocarbons in the first two exploration wells, after we’ve collected all of our data, after we’ve analyzed it, we may come back and drill three more exploration wells,” said Christine Pagan, the company’s venture manager for Atlantic Canada.

“But if there’s no success in the first two wells, and we’ve analyzed the data, we won’t be coming back.”

Shell has contracted the Stena IceMax, the drill ship it will use off Nova Scotia, for five years.

The ship, now being used in the Gulf of Mexico, can accommodate up to 180 people, though Shell will likely have 160 to 170 on board at any given time.

More than 100 of those people will be Canadian, half of them from Nova Scotia.

A standby vessel will accompany the drill ship at all times, and there will be three supply ships stationed in Halifax Harbour. Roughly 90 per cent of the workers staffing those vessels will be from Nova Scotia.

“On any given day, one or another of those vessels will be on its way, to or from the rig with materials and whatever is needed for the operation,” Pagan said.

The dynamically positioned Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit which Shell plans to use to drill the first exploration wells offshore Nova Scotia.

The dynamically positioned Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit which Shell plans to use to drill the first exploration wells offshore Nova Scotia.

The U.S. requires oil companies to have blowout-capping equipment on site within 24 hours. Canada is giving Shell 21 days to bring equipment in from Norway after a blowout happens 5,000 kilometres away.

Mother Of Loretta Saunders Asks For Justice As Murder Trial Begins

Miriam and Clayton Saunders, parents of alleged murder victim Loretta Saunders leave after speaking with media. Jury selection for the eight-man, four-women mostly-white panel concluded Tuesday afternoon at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

Miriam and Clayton Saunders, parents of alleged murder victim Loretta Saunders leave after speaking with media. Tuesday afternoon at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)

By Red Power Media Staff

The two people charged with killing Loretta Saunders in Halifax will hear the case against them for the first time Wednesday.

Blake Leggette and Victoria Henneberry are each charged with first-degree murder.

The trial started Monday with jury selection that ended late Tuesday with Judge Josh Arnold’s announcement that the 10 men and four women —mostly white panel— had been chosen for a job expected to take at least two weeks.

Saunders family despondent after jury selection

Several members of Saunders’ family attended court on Tuesday.

Moments after the 14 jurors were chosen to hear the first-degree murder trial, the victim’s mother, Miriam, left the courtroom, held both sides of her head and loudly wailed.

“I want justice for my daughter,” Loretta’s mother, told reporters as she stood with her husband Clayton Saunders’ arm around her.

“Did you see a family member there choosing, did we have one choice of the jury?” the mother asked.

“So I want you guys to help me, get the people to help us because there’s no representation in there. There is not one representation for my daughter.”

She said she also hopes for prayers and support from the public during the upcoming trial.

Four weeks have been set aside for their trial.

Loretta Saunders.

Loretta Saunders.

Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk from Labrador, was studying at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. She was doing her honours thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

She went missing Feb. 13, 2014, after going to collect rent from Leggette and Henneberry, who were subletting her apartment on Cowie Hill Road in Halifax.

Her body was found two weeks later in a hockey bag dumped in woods along the Trans-Canada Highway near Salisbury, N.B.

Saunders was pregnant.

Blake Leggette and Victoria Henneberry are shown in Halifax on February 28, 2014.

Blake Leggette and Victoria Henneberry are shown in Halifax on February 28, 2014.

Henneberry and Leggette were arrested Feb. 18, 2014, in Harrow, Ont., with Saunders’ car and were returned to Nova Scotia separately.

Crown attorneys Christine Driscoll and Sean McCarroll are prosecuting the case.

Leggette’s defence lawyer is Terry Sheppard and Pat Atherton represents Henneberry.

Henneberry’s lawyer had asked that the two accused be tried separately, a motion that Leggette’s lawyer supported but the court rejected.

$100 million Alton gas project delayed over Mi’kmaq concerns

The provincial government has halted work on this portion of the $100 million Alton Gas Storage project. (CBC)

The provincial government has halted work on this portion of the $100 million Alton Gas Storage project. (CBC)

Oct 31, 2014

The Nova Scotia government has halted part of the construction work on the $100-million Alton Natural Gas Storage Project until Calgary-based AltaGas carries out further consultation with the Mi’kmaq, CBC News has learned.

Nova Scotia is enforcing the consultation by withholding provincial permits. The bureaucratic time out was revealed Wednesday at a seminar on aboriginal environmental consultation in Halifax.

“We have altered timelines… to accommodate further consultation,” says Peter Geddes of Nova Scotia Environment.

The Assembly of Mi’kmaq Chiefs demanded a halt to the project last week claiming its concerns over the project’s impact on fish have not a been addressed.

“The commitment we’ve heard is there won’t be any further permits or approvals delivered on this particular project until meaningful and adequate consultation has happened,” says Twila Gaudet, consultationliason for the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative.

On Wednesday officials with the Department of Environment, the Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs and AltaGas confirmed that permits are being withheld.

AltaGas plans to drill into large underground salt caverns to store natural gas near Stewiacke, N.S. It will flush large quantities of salty water generated during the construction process out with the falling tides at the confluence of the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke rivers.

The project received its required environmental assessment in 2007. Construction work to breach a dyke — which was part of the original approvals — has been halted because Nova Scotia Environment has refused to issue a permit. The drill site is still active.

Premier Stephen McNeil says his government is arranging a meeting between AltaGas and the Mi’kmaq in the expectation common ground will be found.

“But listen, there is a responsibility in this province to consult and we’re going to continue to consult until our partners are happy,” McNeil told CBC News.

AltaGas allowed CBC on site Wednesday, but declined comment.

Nova Scotia’s decision to halt the project threatens construction timelines and raises questions about when a company with a seven-year-old environmental assessment can expect to clear regulatory hurdles.

Bureaucrats said Wednesday in Halifax that securing an environmental assessment does not end a proponent’s requirement to consult.

The Mi’kmaq agree.

“The EA isn’t the end of it. There is still a lot more needed,” says Gaudet. “The consultation process supersedes that.”

First Nations, residents slow traffic on Nova Scotia highway to protest gas project

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS) Read more:

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Oct 2, 2014

Mi’kmaq protesters and residents of a rural community slowed traffic on a Nova Scotia highway Wednesday in a bid to stop construction of a natural gas storage facility they fear will contaminate local waterways.

Organizer Cheryl Maloney said about 100 people lined Highway 102 near Stewiacke to hand out pamphlets and wave placards as part of a peaceful protest about 60 kilometres north of Halifax.

Maloney said First Nation bands want the $100-million project stopped because they say there hasn’t been enough consultation with native and non-native residents.

“Nova Scotians just don’t know what’s happening and people that live right next to where they’re plowing and building the brine facilities, they don’t even know,” she said in a telephone interview from the site of the protest as car horns blared in the background.

“We need an injunction and need people to come out and be able to say, ‘We don’t want our ecosystem destroyed.’ ”

Alton Natural Gas Storage, a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas (TSX:ALA), wants to store natural gas in three underground salt caverns that will be about 1,000 metres underground.

The company plans to drill into the salt formations and pump in water from the nearby Shubenacadie River to dissolve the salt, with the leftover brine water being pumped back into the river system.

The company’s website says drilling for the first cavern started last month.

Alton president David Birkett issued a statement Wednesday saying the company has been in regular contact with Mi’kmaq for the past eight years and it is open to more meetings.

The environmental assessment process required consultation with First Nations, he said, adding that the company met with the chiefs from Millbrook and Indian Brook in 2006, conducted two Mi’kmaq ecological studies in 2006 and 2012, met with the Native Council of Nova Scotia in 2007 and hosted a site tour for Mi’kmaq-owned businesses in 2009.

More recently, the company provided updates at an open house in 2011 and invited the Native Council of Nova Scotia to provide submissions to the environmental assessment process in February 2013. Meetings were also held with the Mi’kmaq in June, August and earlier this month, he said.

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Protesters show their opposition to the construction of a natural gas STORAGE FACILITY near Stewiacke, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“Our company has worked hard to bring the benefits of natural gas storage to Nova Scotians in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner,” Birkett said in the statement.

Nova Scotia’s Environment Department has said it is continuing to consult with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs on the project.

It added that the company still requires permits from Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment before it can begin using a brine storage pond at its site.

Alton said it also implemented mitigation measures to ensure the project wouldn’t affect fish in the rivers, something Maloney said she doesn’t trust to protect threatened stocks of striped bass.
Alton says salt caverns have been used to store natural gas in Canada since the 1960s.

The storage facility in Nova Scotia will be used to stabilize the province’s supply of natural gas. The gas from the caverns would be linked by pipeline to the nearby Maritimes and Northeast pipeline, which extends from Nova Scotia to the northeastern United States.