Canadian Manufacturing

Manitoba’s Premier says Port of Churchill owner wanted another government bailout

Brian Pallister says the previous NDP government gave the port operator Omnitrax roughly $800,000 in 2015 to keep the port running under a confidential agreement



Two companies owned by Omnitrax—Hudson Bay Railway and Hudson Bay Port Co.—are hoping to ship crude oil by rail through the Port of Churchill, Canada's only Arctic deep-water seaport. PHOTO Omnitrax

The Port of Churchill, which is owned by Omnitrax, is Canada’s only Arctic deep-water seaport. PHOTO Omnitrax

WINNIPEG—Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is suggesting the owners of the Port of Churchill have closed the facility because they could not get more government money.

Pallister has also released an agreement he says was kept secret, which saw taxpayer money flow to the owners, Omnitrax, last year in a temporary bailout.

Omnitrax notified workers at the northern port this week that it will be effectively shut down for the seasonal shipping season this year.

Pallister says the previous NDP government gave Omnitrax roughly $800,000 in 2015 to keep the port running under an agreement that contained a confidentiality clause.

Pallister says there was another request this year, but his new Progressive Conservative government is not interested in subsidizing large corporations.

Pallister isn’t revealing any details of the request, saying he wants to be sure he isn’t violating any confidentiality requirements.

The closure of the port has put dozens of employees out of work in Churchill, which has a population of 800.

New Democrat MP Niki Ashton, whose seat in Parliament includes Churchill, is calling on the federal government to take over the port to ensure its survival. Ottawa operated the port prior to 1997.

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