Many Canadians might know that Peter Mansbridge began his illustrious broadcasting career with the Mother Earth Corporation in beautiful downtown Churchill, on the shores of Hudson Bay. That might explain why an American multi-national waited until Peter was either on holidays or out of the country to pull the plug on Manitoba’s northern seaport.
We may never know because Omnitrax of Denver Colorado is choosing to not offer one word of explanation about why they have chosen to shut down Churchill, the facility that they took off Ottawa’s hands for a song and a handshake in 1997.
It’s a hard story to follow because governments aren’t saying much either, except for Churchill Mayor Michael Spence who’s wondering if he might have to turn out the lights if he’s the last person to leave town.
Surely we’ll get some definite answers from Jim Carr, the federal minister of Natural Resources. He is Manitoba’s senior cabinet member, by virtue of the fact that he was sworn in five minutes ahead of MaryAnn Mihychuk last fall. Carr is “gathering intelligence” about what’s going on, and that’s a relief.
I wonder what happened to Merv Tweed? He was a Conservative backbencher when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister, and he took such good care of the interests of Omnitrax that they made him the man in charge of their little Canadian operation. It happened just about the time that Harper and company killed the dear old Canadian Wheat Board. If you don’t think these events are somehow related, then you just haven’t been paying attention. Normally in early August, a handful of ships would be making their way to Churchill to be loaded up with grain and other goods, bound for Russia and elsewhere, but not this year.
Omnitrax also owns the Hudson Bay Railway, and it’s still carrying lots of tourists up that way to watch whales and polar bears. My former colleague Peter Warren used to be fond of suggesting that it was time to give Churchill back to those same bears. It seems as though someone may have been listening.
I’m Roger Currie