Trimper looks back on 2016
MHA hopeful going into 2017
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.
Lake MHA Trimper Melville Perry