Thursday, 16 November 2017 07:12

Hard to keep logic on track with Omnitrax deal

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Oct. 20, 2017 The Regina Leader Post reported that Polar Industries and Fox Lake Cree Nation and Churchill-based Remote Area Services are contemplating an ice road between Gillam, Man. and Churchill. 
This will replace the rail line that Omnitrax seems to be abandoning.
 The original deal that transferred the line to Omnitrax saw the federal government spending $34.05 million to upgrade the port and giving $16 million to CN for agreeing to sell the rail line.  manitoba contributed $6 million to dredge the port.
As well, OmniTrax was to invest $50 million to upgrade the 875 miles of northern track to the port.
Considering the taxpayer dollars invested, why was the track given to a private for-profit non-Canadian company? Was this a sweetheart deal for OmniTrax.?
While the Canadian Wheat Board didn’t own the terminals at Churchill, it made sense for them to use The Port of Churchill as much as possible.  Unfortunately, Chretien’s giveaway was followed up by Harper’s destruction of the CWB which led in turn to a decline in traffic.
 However, the federal government said a 2008 agreement signed by OmniTrax means the company cannot significantly reduce, discontinue or abandon the line.
So why is the present Liberal government dragging its heels on forcing OmniTrax to live up to its agreement and instead, laying the burden on the people of Churchill to get decent service?
 It never ceases to amaze me how the Liberal and Conservative governments cater to their corporate friends at the expense of the public interest.
Joyce Neufeld
Waldeck, Sask.

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