November 17th, 2020
LETTER: The Government must step up for the Bayline and the Port of Churchill
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to you today calling on you to support the people of Northern Manitoba and Canada as a whole by investing in Canada’s Arctic Transportation Trade Corridor. Given that the Port of Churchill is North America’s only arctic port accessible by rail, this is of national strategic importance to our country and requires public investment.
The privatization and subsequent sale of the Port and railway to American private transport firm Omnitrax led to years of neglect and lost opportunities. We are pleased that your Government responded to regional, national, and international public pressure to find a solution in 2018. Federal investment supported the creation of One North, a consortium of First Nations and Northern community leaders who act on behalf of their communities. Moving forward, the model here of Indigenous ownership is one that should be adopted across the country as an example of reconciliation in action.
Through their work as part of the Arctic Gateway Group (AGG) and with the support of the federal government, they have made progress in repairing sections of the track and reopening the Port. Thanks to their work, limited passenger and freight services have been able to resume.
But the Government of Canada must go further. It is deeply concerning that the AGG will run out of funds by 2021. The only way to avoid a cessation of operations and to complete key aspects of infrastructure upgrades is through further federal investment. As One North has indicated, they require a total investment of $200 million, $150 million of which would be federal funding and should not be contingent on provincial funding.
Prime Minister Trudeau, Northern Manitoba, and Canada as a whole have paid the price of decades of neglect with respect to the Port of Churchill and the rail line. It is time to take another much-needed step and invest in the future of our north and of our country.
We urge you to support One North’s proposal and invest in a national strategic asset that will drive development of and investment in a region long neglected by Ottawa as well advance reconciliation.
We look forward to your response.
Leader of the NDP
MP for Churchill--Keewatinook Aski