by Eric Sagan
(September 17, 2016) Recently Omnitrax the owner of the Port of Churchill said they were closing the port and no grain shipments would be occurring for 2016. How could we have come to this where a private company can dictate to farmers and essentially to the whole Nation that a port outlet would be closed to export because of their financial need? Does anyone consider the benefits that farmers receive when shipping through the Port of Churchill? Who is looking out for their needs and their financial considerations? How about the financial needs of all the communities and businesses serviced by that northern rail line and port?
The media has overlooked who caused this problem. It was the Harper government and Gerry Ritz, Former Minister of Agriculture, that caused this problem by destroying the farmer elected Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). The CWB had a mandate to maximize revenue to farmers which is why the CWB used the Port of Churchill to ship farmers’ grain to some of our customers. Most years the CWB shipped 90% of the grain that went out of Churchill because it made more money for farmers.
With the death of the CWB the Port of Churchill now dies also. The reasoning is quite simple. Since none of the grain company oligarchs own the port terminal they would rather use one of their own terminals where they can make money for themselves. Ritz and his Western Canadian Wheat Growers shills knew the Port would die so they bribed the grain companies with a $9/tonne incentive to ship grain through Churchill as a short term cover-up after they killed the CWB in 2011.
With the incentive ending soon and Ritz out of power, the grain companies and specifically Omnitrax decided to pull the pin on the port. With the big grain companies refusing to use Churchill, one can’t necessary blame Omnitrax for shutting the Port down due to the finances involved. But what about everyone else’s finances? How does this fit with our National Agricultural and Transportation Policy. Oh yeah we don’t have one! What about our national sovereignty of the North? Now we don’t even control our only northern deep water port and soon we won’t even have one!
If one looks who to blame for this wreck, one can clearly target the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba Tory governments, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, SARM, The Hudson Bay Route Association, and APAS for not opposing the Harper government in its destruction of the CWB. Everyone was told of the lost economic opportunities if this happened, and the loss of the Port of Churchill is only one of them.
As the Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture “eloquently” said maybe Churchill is a lost cause. I would say the only lost cause is our farm leaders!