Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has tapped the Liberal caucus chair to join his cabinet in the key post of environment minister.
McNeil announced Wednesday that Gordon Wilson would replace Margaret Miller, who has previously said that she wouldn’t be running in the next provincial election.
The premier said Miller is leaving cabinet now to focus on constituency work as she recovers from recent arm surgery. Miller served as environment minister for the past three years.
McNeil expressed confidence in Wilson’s abilities to deal with key files in his new portfolio as a rookie minister.
“He shows a tremendous grasp of a broad number of issues,” said McNeil.
“I have the good fortune of putting a cabinet together with such capable people and I look forward to Gordon joining that group.”
Wilson was first elected to the legislature in 2013 in the riding of Clare-Digby and has served on various legislature committees.
He takes over the Environment Department a day after Miller issued a formal request calling for more study of the Northern Pulp mill’s proposed effluent treatment plant.
The contentious file is one of the biggest issues facing McNeil’s government. The government has resolutely stuck to a legislated deadline of next Jan. 31 for the Pictou County mill to close its current treatment facility in Boat Harbour, N.S. – throwing the fate of the mill and its 300 workers into question.
The company has pushed for an extension of that deadline and has threatened to close the mill if it doesn’t get one.
“I think obviously Northern Pulp is one of the biggest files we have right now, so certainly I’m going to put a lot of attention towards that,” Wilson said.
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The former forest technician was asked by reporters whether he considers himself an environmentalist.
“I consider myself to understand the environment quite well,” he said following his swearing in at Government House.
“I’m a forest technician by trade, but certainly my life has been one where I’ve grown up not only on the water but in the woods.”