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Tue, Sep 22, 2020 12:43
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Former Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm resigns as chair of Northern Pulp board

ABERCROMBIE, N.S. (From news reports) -- Former Nova Scotia Premier Dr. John Hamm is quick to admit he's taken a lot of heat for his involvement with Northern Pulp, particularly in recent years.

But he remains ardent in his past support of the Pictou County based mill and believes it was for the greater good.

"It was something that I knew was controversial, but I felt, on balance, supporting the mill was the right thing to do - right thing for our county, right thing for rural Nova Scotia," he said in a phone interview from his New Glasgow home.

Hamm tendered his resignation as a director and chair of the board of directors to Northern Resources Nova Scotia Corporation and as a director of its subsidiaries on Jan. 8, 2020.

The resignation was made public in a press release issued by Northern Pulp on Feb. 7.

Hamm said his reason for stepping down when he did was because of a health related issue which he declined to elaborate on. His decision came just weeks after Premier Stephen McNeil's Dec. 20, 2019 announcement that there would be no extension to the Boat Harbour Act and that Northern Pulp would have to cease operations effective Jan. 31, 2020. Northern Pulp's parent company Paper Excellence has since said it will continue the environmental assessment process with a goal of reopening the mill.

Paper Excellence Canada thanked Hamm, for his valuable service and contributions to Northern Resources Nova Scotia and its subsidiaries for many years.

"We wish him well in future endeavours," the release stated.

Hamm, 81, was premier of Nova Scotia from 1999-2006 and was MLA for Pictou Centre from 1993-2006. Prior to that he worked as a family physician. He became chairman of the board for Northern Resources in 2010.

As a resident of Pictou County and vocal supporter of the mill, he saw first-hand the employment benefits that came for local employees and the financial good it brought to the region by bolstering everything from railways to the community college.

"Northern Pulp had a tremendous positive impact on Pictou County," Hamm said. "Their attempts to bring science and technology to a rational solution was something that I had supported."

And he's disappointed that the mill was unable to continue operating.

"I think the way things are unfolding is a tremendous travesty for our area," he said.

As to whether the mill will ever reopen, he said he'll leave that to speculation.

"If objectivity is allowed to reign than there will be a mill," he said, but cautions that it won't be able to have as many positive impacts as it did prior to closure.

"The big winner in all this is New Brunswick and J.D. Irving," Hamm said.

Already the New Brunswick company, which operates a mill in Saint John, has been holding job fairs targeting former Northern Pulp employees and Hamm expects New Brunswick to take a great interest in Nova Scotia's forest products.

"The control is moving into New Brunswick," he said. "There's a huge loss to Nova Scotia because of the way this is unfolding."

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