Trimper looks back on 2016

MHA hope­ful go­ing into 2017

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - BY EVAN CA­REEN

It has been a year filled with tur­moil for the Lake Melville area. Mem­ber of House of Assem­bly Perry Trimper said that it has been tough and he dealt with many chal­lenges.

Ob­vi­ously the big­gest is­sue Trimper dealt with both his post as MHA and as min­is­ter of the en­vi­ron­ment has been the on­go­ing Muskrat Falls con­cerns. He said while it has been dif­fi­cult he be­lieves that the agree­ment the provin­cial gov­ern­ment reached with the three in­dige­nous gov­ern­ments ear­lier this year shows for­ward move­ment.

“Get­ting a di­a­logue go­ing be­tween the lead­ers and gov­ern­ment around hu­man health is­sues at Muskrat Falls was a big step,” he said.

He said they are close now to get­ting the terms of ref­er­ence to­gether for an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee the three in­dige­nous groups will be sit­ting on. It was a chal­lenge to get ev­ery­one to the ta­ble, he said, and he had hoped to have it hap­pen sooner.

“I knew come the fall when the flood­ing would start it would be an emo­tional trig­ger. It was all about try­ing to pre­pare for that and to get as much in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­cated as pos­si­ble. It wasn’t just is­sues around hu­man health that came into play; it was is­sues from the last few decades that came to a head.”

He said 2017 will mark 30 years since he moved to the area and he has seen a lot of chal­lenges in that time.

“This is­sue was with­out prece­dent, in terms of level of in­volve­ment, pulling in so many as­pects of so­ci­ety on this is­sue,” he said.

He said he re­mem­bers the low level flying protests and Voisey’s Bay pro­ject be­ing con­tro­ver­sial times in Labrador but so­cial me­dia was the dif­fer­ence this time.

“They got the mes­sage out, a neg­a­tive mes­sage from my per­spec­tive,” he said. “There are a lot of peo­ple who were gen­uinely con­cerned. We as a gov­ern­ment would not al­low a pro­ject to pro­ceed know­ing it would af­fect the health of the res­i­dents of this area.”

Trimper said they will move for­ward early in the new year and he’s happy they have started a con­struc­tive di­a­logue with the in­dige­nous groups. He said he’s glad he is the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter in this time to uti­lize his sci­en­tific back­ground and be­cause the pro­ject is in his back­yard.

“If I was in an­other port­fo­lio and some­one else was here, maybe with­out my back­ground, we still might be in a bad scene,” he said. “I take some so­lace in that. No one likes to face a protest and I’ve faced sev­eral now, it’s not a mean­ing­ful way to start a di­a­logue.”

He said his goals as the min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­ment and cli­mate change is to use the sci­ence avail­able in an in­formed way to make de­ci­sions and to find a way to ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cate that sci­ence to the peo­ple.

“A sci­en­tist should not be talk­ing to show peo­ple how much they know, they should be talk­ing in a way peo­ple un­der­stand what they’re say­ing. I feel we’ve made some progress on that.”

The fed­eral cli­mate change plan has been some­thing that took up a lot of Trimper’s time last year as well and he’s happy they man­aged to get to a point where the prov­ince was will­ing to sign on. He walked out of a meet­ing on the is­sue on Oct. 3 when Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau an­nounced the plan.

“I’m glad I did,” he said. “The is­sues that were on my mind were is­sues that needed to be dealt with and we’ve man­aged to reach at least a high-level agree­ment on how that’s go­ing to be done.”

Trimper suc­cess­fully ar­gued for con­sid­er­a­tions for the prov­ince, where a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties live on diesel and have no cur­rent alternative. Nova Sco­tia, Saskatchewan and this prov­ince have man­aged to get special con­sid­er­a­tion for the in­vest­ment all three have made on re­new­able en­ergy.

Cli­mate change has been an is­sue in Labrador for some time, with the chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment and the impacts on wildlife.

“An­i­mals like the Ge­orge River cari­bou herd now have to deal with rapid changes in cli­mate,” he said. “It’s very much a con­cern. Are these the only is­sues caus­ing such a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in the cari­bou pop­u­la­tion? Prob­a­bly not, but it’s a big in­flu­ence.”

Trimper will be work­ing on this is­sue in 2017 as well, as the herd is con­tin­u­ing to de­cline.

“Work­ing with the stake­holder in two prov­inces is what I’ve been work­ing on,” he said. “Hope­fully we’re mak­ing progress but it only takes a few in­di­vid­u­als to go against the hunt­ing ban to whip up some emo­tions.”

Trimper just got back from a meet­ing be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Innu lead­ers from Que­bec and he said it’s a good step for­ward.

“We got across our con­cerns re­gard­ing the herd de­cline and hope­fully we can all move for­ward to­gether.”

For 2017, Trimper said he is hope­ful the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee for Muskrat Falls will help mit­i­gate the con­cerns of res­i­dents and help with the re­la­tions be­tween the provin­cial gov­ern­ment and the in­dige­nous groups of Labrador.

FILE PHOTO

Lake MHA Trimper Melville Perry

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