Letters to the editor -
The subject of expropriation and environmental clean up of the AbitibiBowater properties in Grand Falls-Windsor has filled news headlines of late. I write this letter, as a private concerned citizen, to provide commentary on some of the opinions that have been expressed in relation to government's role in the clean up. Also, to express my desire that our future needs will be met for the long-term survival of the central region of this great province.
Everyone expressed support upon the initial announcement of expropriation of assets from AbitibiBowater. The idea that AbitibiBowater would benefit from our natural resources without operating in our province was unacceptable to most, and action to prevent this was widely welcomed.
Current outrage at the notion that the government may be involved in environmental clean up is somewhat puzzling. Based on the ongoing court proceedings, it appears unlikely that AbitibiBowater would have prioritized environmental remediation had expropriation not occurred. The result of this would likely be environmental issues that are left unexplored and unattended to for years. Arguably, had this occurred, many would be calling on government to intervene to ensure environmental issues were assessed and communities were not at risk.
The expropriation of the AbitibiBowater assets in central Newfoundland by the Province was a move that I believe was necessary and appropriate in order to safeguard our forestry industry. The fact that we inherited the environmental problems associated with the mill itself is just a small liability when you look at the bigger picture. Was it a mistake? I don't think so! When you consider that with the potential declaration of bankruptcy of AbitibiBowater, in all probability the province would have ended up with the environmental liability anyway. We cannot let this take our focus off our goal, which is to make this area a place that will continue to be prosperous. Right now we have control of all the fibre resources, the hydro resources and all other associated resources, which is imperative to ensure our long term viability.
I would encourage readers to consider the larger picture on this issue.
Expropriation ensured that a company no longer employing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians could not continue to control and benefit from our resources. Furthermore, it also ensured that environmental issues will not be ignored during years of court proceedings. This approach is likely to the benefit of communities throughout our region.
I applaud the government in taking this bold step and I believe that history will bear this out.