Manitoba, Saskatchewan is cautious and more open to Smith’s proposal for Churchill Port

SASKATOON — Alberta’s Prime Minister Daniel Smith’s proposal to ship western Canadian products from Manitoba’s northern Port of Churchill has been taken cautiously by the Manitoba government, but the Saskatchewan government has responded to the idea. Appears to be more open.

“I would like to inform you that there are more pressing issues that we must address now,” Manitoba Premier Heather Stephenson said at a press conference on October 31, but ruled out future talks. did not.

Saskatchewan “supports the safe and efficient movement of goods to thousands of customers across Canada and around the world,” according to a statement sent to the Epoch Times by the Saskatchewan Department of Highways.

“All states are working to strengthen existing corridors and identify potential expansions,” the statement said. “This province has always worked with our colleagues in Alberta and Manitoba.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told reporters on October 31 that he supports efforts to expand services in Churchill, according to the CBC.

In a letter dated October 24, Smith requested the premiers of Saskatchewan and Manitoba to meet in the town of Churchill to discuss working together to “promote the reconsideration of Churchill Harbor”, as well as the port.

Located on the edge of Hudson Bay, the port is Canada’s only Arctic port with a rail line.

Smith’s letter states that the world needs access to responsibly produced, affordable energy and food because of the war in Ukraine.

“In my view, the federal government is unfazed by the urgency of this global crisis,” she wrote. “The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how the three states can work together to address energy and food security issues, particularly opportunities at ports.”

A similar idea was put forward by Federal Conservative Party leader Pierre Polivre when he ran for party leadership in August.

“As part of its plan to end offshore oil within five years, the Poylievre government will allow the Port of Churchill to export responsibly produced Canadian energy and create more paychecks for our people. We will provide fast approval to do so.” he wrote on Twitter.

Professor Ken Coates, an expert in northern development and innovation, says Smith’s proposal has merit.

“I think this is a project that has a lot of potential,” said Coates, who has expertise focused on Aboriginal and Northern issues as director of the Indigenous Affairs Program at the Macdonald Laurier Institute.

“We need more capacity to get Canadian products out to sea. We have similar problems with wheat, lentils and pulse crops that come from western Canada. We’ve paid very little attention to it, and we have a staggering backlog,” he said in an interview.

“If we were any other country in the world, we would be really upset about this. But unfortunately, our government doesn’t think much about Western problems.”

Oil pipelines ‘full of emotional challenges’

Coates believes Churchill could be used as an export hub for natural gas, in addition to cargo and grain, but is skeptical about oil.

“If you focus on natural gas as a possibility, I think it’s very possible,” he said.

“I think the whole oil pipeline business is fraught with far greater emotional challenges than it is with natural gas.”

Churchill Harbor has been in operation since the early 1930s, but problems have arisen as the rail line to the port was built over the rough terrain to the north. In 2017, the line was flooded and was out of service for over a year.In August of this year, Manitoba and the federal government Announced $147.6 million Spent more than two years maintaining and upgrading the Hudson’s Bay Railroad.

The funds will go to the Arctic Gateway Group, a consortium of indigenous and northern communities who now own the port and the railroad that leads to it. AGG has done significant work on the rail line this year, but there is still work to do in 2023.

Cargo and passengers are passing through this line, but grain shipments have been suspended. News In his release last November, AGG said of the suspension of grain shipments: , and beneficial. ”

Smith sent a letter on October 24, and on November 1, Saskatchewan introduced the Saskatchewan First Act, designed to assert state jurisdiction over natural resources.

Coates said the two moves are simply different sides of the same coin.

“For years, the federal government has gone too far, especially on the environment, especially on resource development. [has] It has had a massive and poorly documented impact on the economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he said.

“And now they are determined to resist and are really, really hard to resist.”

Doug Lett


Doug Lett is a Saskatoon-based reporter. Throughout his career, he has worked for various news outlets, including CTV and Global News.