Manitoba

Senior Manitoba MP to 'gather intelligence' on Port of Churchill file

Manitoba's senior MP says the Trudeau government is still trying to figure out what to do with the shuttered Port of Churchill.

Jim Carr says he plans to meet with northerners this week but wouldn't give his opinion about Manitoba port

Senior Manitoba MP Jim Carr says he plans to "gather intelligence" about the Port of Churchill. (CBC)

Manitoba's senior MP says the Trudeau government is still trying to figure out what to do with the shuttered Port of Churchill.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said the federal government is just beginning to gather intelligence about the effects of OmniTrax's decision to shutter the Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba, lay off its workers and cut freight-train service along the Hudson Bay Railway.

"The operators of the port and the operators of the railroad have determined they are no longer interested in those operations, so the government of Canada will look at the impact of those decisions on the people of the north and the people along the line," Carr told reporters after a news conference at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The federal government sold the Port of Churchill to OmniTrax in 1997. Now the mayor and others are calling on Ottawa to buy it back. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)
Carr said he plans to meet this week with Churchill Mayor Mike Spence and several northern Manitoba chiefs and then forward what he learns to Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development.

"As a minister for Manitoba, it's my job to understand what Manitobans are saying about this, what the port has meant historically, what the port and the railway can represent in the future of Manitoba and to gather that intelligence," he said.

Carr, who is familiar with the Churchill file from his days running the Business Council of Manitoba, declined to offer his own opinions about the port and railway, which shipping-industry experts have described as inefficient and out of date.

​Carr described what has transpired over the past week as "a new chapter" in the history of Churchill.

The port has been the biggest employer in Churchill, Man., a town of fewer than 1,000 people about 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg on the coast of Hudson Bay.

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