Sunday, October 27, 2013

shale gas exploration No easy fix in New Brunswick.

       There were a few surprises in the unfolding issue of shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.  
In the after math of Idle no More confrontations-you would tend to think that provincial and federal policies and protocols which are heavily invested in promoting a better relationship with indigenous reserves across Canada-are increasing not decreasing.
Do we have the potential to see similar energy sharing resources issues in The Pas? I would like to say no; but then again it all depends on how these issues are dealt with.
         The focus of the chatter surrounding the violent clashes between the RCMP and the indigenous peoples of Elsipogtog, New Brunswick revolve around the issue of legitimacy.
Canadians who argue that the rule of law is paramount -whether you choose or not to engage in civil disobedience-and does not include disrupting trans-Canada transportation routes; are resolute.
CBC’s Rex Murphy monologue describing his point of view best describes this sentiment. 
There is also much anger, and a total disbelief that such a discourse could be so blatantly biased; according to many online comments made on social media and on the thread which accompanied Murphy’s article.
          I understand the importance of politicians wading into the world of instant sound bites via social media; after all increasing your profile is desirable is politics. However, a recent Twitter (none authenticated) message from the Prime Minister’s own account is highly brazen.
“Canada will not yield to these so called “First Nations” and they must choose to be loyal Canadian’s or face the full force of the Crown’s authority. We will crush these demonstrations be all means under Crown Law.”
On all accounts this Twitter message is meant to inflame discourse; but it is also true based on the government’s policy and the protocols in which it chooses to interact with First Nations themselves. 
The continued push to force indigenous reserves to conform to the present socio-economical models elsewhere in Canada is getting stronger. 
       If we examine the later series of legislation from the federal government within the past year; this realization is self-evident. 
So why exactly are we incensed about when we discover that First Nations continue to not play by our rules?
New Brunswick Premier David Alward is obstinately pushing his economic plan ahead. New Brunswick unemployment rates are increasing rapidly. According to Statistics Canada the rate rose to 10.5 per cent with 2,100 employment opportunities gone from the province.
SWN Resources Canada exploration manager Nicki Atkinson stated to the CBC on April 22 that it would be some time before any definite decisions is to be made.
“What we will do in the upcoming years is follow that up with a drilling program and that will be, like I said, in the next couple of years. And then I'll be in a much better position to answer that question.”
     In addition, SWN and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have an ongoing consultation process since 2011, “all to decide whether they can promote a new energy business while protecting their landscape.”
SWN Executive Vice-President Mark Boling, commented in 2011 in the National Geographic his point of view.
“We were upset about the way the debate was continuing to move. People weren’t focused on what really matters—what are the real obstacles to responsible development? And how can we develop workable solutions?”
Fear mongering from opponents and the continued affirmations by those-in the shale gas industry sector-claiming that 60 years using this type of mechanism in the gas industry saying, “don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be just fine,”  is acerbating the political climate in New Brunswick.
“…but the reality is the public, as anyone would be, is going to be fearful of what they don’t know. There’s a huge vacuum of information about what is going on,” commented Boling.
These are concerns which are reflecting not only by First Nations; but by environmentalist agencies in New Brunswick as well.
“People are really concerned about the industrialization of our rural landscape. We take pride in our rural quality of life, and we live in a part of the country that depends on agriculture and tourism. A lot of people are concerned how natural gas will challenge that.”-  Stephanie Merrill, fresh water protection coordinator for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick
EDF senior policy adviser Scott Anderson does not believe that being intransigent with regard to energy conglomerates is effective. 
   Reservations aside, Anderson welcomed Boling’s invitation to be part of the consultation process of SWN.
“Our philosophy at EDF is we don’t pick winners. We’re not fans of coal; we’re not fans of natural gas. 
Whatever the technology and fuels are that are relied on in the marketplace, we see our job as making sure they are regulated in a way that minimizes the environmental footprint.
However you look at it, it’s clear that natural gas is going to play a big role in our energy portfolio for a long, long time.  
And it’s also clear that natural gas development has caused far too many problems for public health and the environment.”
    What I find interesting thus far, is the discourse in social media seem to dismiss the element of cooperative environment between the two entities. 
 Furthermore it omits completely the real facts that a common understanding over the issue of methane; and to develop better policy in regards to gas well standards.
“Yes, there is the possibility if the well is not constructed properly, it can allow natural gas to migrate into aquifers,” says Boling. “This has happened.” 
Whatever new guidelines and cooperative solutions EDF and SWN bring to the table; it will not completely address all environmental issues of Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
“Potential water contamination is a huge issue, but I want to emphasize that people are also worried about infrastructure, road systems, air quality, the future of pipeline and gathering and compressor stations and noise. 
Our position is that we still need to have the entire package of subsurface and above-surface issues controlled for before we move ahead with any development,” said Merrill. To be continued....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


The much anticipated Throne Speech by the Conservative Government begs to ask the question “Is the Canadian public willing to shut their eyes, and continue to tolerate Prime Minister Harper for another two years?”
       The issue is do we really care? Assuming that one does what would it look like? I often ask this question randomly to a variety of people, and most often the reply I get is, “Canadian politics might be something that I pay attention to; but it is not what I would define as a “day-to-day” problem.
       So the sitting government tabled their agenda and if you noticed; the economy is no longer the center piece of discussion. Political pundits argue that the Conservatives are reacting instead of leading; they might have cause to think so.
       As I am writing this, the RCMP and indigenous activists in New Brunswick have escalated.
Cars are burning. Men, women and children are exposed to danger. Indigenous Treaty rights are being ignored while federal injunctions are being awarded to SWN Resources.
As I examine the Throne Speech, the fourth paragraph proudly hails the Royal Proclamation made 250 years ago as the corner stone of Canadian, “legal foundation of this country.”
      Mention of indigenous rights are made within the same paragraph, “It recognized the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada for the first time and established the basis of their relations with the Crown.”
Some contradiction in term; I must say.  This is not a new tactic, and I wonder why the           Conservatives would be prone to believe that saying one thing and doing another could succeed.
 Perhaps they are of the opinion that public opinion will continue to ignore these processes and be allowed to pursue the total assimilation of the indigenous peoples in Canada.
      I don’t know why attributing the word “inclusiveness” within the speech would benefit the Harper government.
Wedge politics, electoral fraud, mailbox voting, ethnic target specific voting block all used and exercised by the Conservatives during the last election does not make me invest much thought, into it.
 Really, I find it rather incredible that the propagandist Conservatives still hold to the view that repeating a lie, will somehow translate into a “truth”.
In regards to Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Throne Speech makes reference to our very own parliamentarians; and their altruism.
     I daresay, how the Conservatives can make such a boast in full flight of no less than three disgraced Conservative Senators; with the sacking of at least two senior PMO staff members is offensive.
 Oh my, I almost forgot the prorogation of not one, but two occasions where the Prime Minister chose to put Parliament on an indefinite period of hiatus; for fear of losing face.
Quoting D’Arcy McGee, and making a correlation between, “…all bound by free institutions,” and within the same breath re-affirming colonialisms, “we are reminded that ours is a rich inheritance: a legacy of freedom; the birthright of all humanity and the courage to uphold it; the rule of law, and the institutions to protect it; respect for human dignity and diversity,” is preposterous.
     What is more salient and mirror the true nature of the Conservative agenda can be found in this simple phrase, “We must seize this moment to secure prosperity, for Canadians now, and the generations to follow.”
As I read further down under the issue of trade I felt compelled to add this paragraph,
“However, for Canadians to benefit fully from our natural resources we must be able to sell them. A lack of key infrastructure threatens to strand these resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring.”
I need not tell you what this really implies; and for the Harper government this is par for the course.
If some of you are familiar with the term “social relativism” this will undoubtedly give you a better understanding.
      If you managed to read this far into the Throne Speech you will be re-introduced to the familiar message of “pending economic doom at our door” and the incredible feats of fiscal stewardship by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
It also promises to restrain new hires, and expectations of doing more with less. Might I inquire why this has become the rule instead of the exception to the rule?
The promise of better access to education and long-term employment opportunities has long been screamed from the roof tops.
The issue is, with the rising cost of tuition fees, the growing expectations of a demanding student population, and the erosion of funding for our “free public institutions” the prognosis does not look very positive.
In fact, the largest percentages of youths from the ages of (18-29) have ever been recorded by Statistic Canada as currently searching for those “jobs” promised within the Throne Speech. Let alone a greater access to visible minorities and women.
On the basis of protecting the environment…dare I step into that bog?
      There is enough resource material on the web for anyone with a scintilla of common sense to understand that after passing into law Bill C-45 and grudgingly reallocating funds to maintain ongoing research into fresh water lakes; this government cannot make any credible assurances to the Canadian public.
On the basis of protecting the environment…dare I step into that bog? There is enough resource material on the web for anyone with a scintilla of common sense to understand that after passing into law Bill C-45 and grudgingly reallocating funds to maintain ongoing research into fresh water lakes; this government cannot make any credible assurances to the Canadian public.
In revising the Conservative position on justice and crime, only one thought comes to mind; more prisons will be needed.
      Oh and in passing, still no acknowledgment that an Inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada is warranted.
The Conservatives proposes to put Canada first, and yet they still hold the firm belief that the recent closures of nine Veterans Affairs District offices serves this directive.
Time will tell if the Conservatives can sustain repeated swells of discontent. I myself doubt it very much.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

“Alvederzein Herr Priebke”

There is much talk of SS Captain Erich Priebke in the news lately; and much of it is confusing.
At issue is where to bury such a man, and the logical answer would be depending on his religious faith, in the place of origin or adoptive country.
      Nazism is not a prerequisite nor is it an exclusionary measure in attributing the “value” of burying men, women, and children of the Third Reich.
To dehumanize Priebke in death is hypocritical, and serves no purpose; other to reiterate the need to persecute in death those who perpetrated war atrocities and pursued the ideals of the Volk.
It is not a test for the Vatican on the basis of faith and faith alone, it is not a validation of Nazism, it is not even a recognition of The Holocaust; Priebke died in Italy and should be buried as any one of us should be.
     Unfortunately, Priebke elicits more than the ordinary accomplishments (of just being aged 100 years at the time of his death); his passing reintroduces a plethora of questions.
The role of the Vatican, Italian communism, anti-Semite ideology in pre-Mussolini Italy, fascism,     The Holocaust, and many other areas of societal norms of the early 20th century.
Priebke’s role in the 1944 Ardeatine Caves is well documented, and so are the directives from his superior (Herbert Kappler) and those of central command.      
    If articles of Priebke’s death generate the necessary discussions among you; it is serving a bigger purpose, that of truly examining why ethnically speaking we seem as human beings to attribute what is “desirable” and what is defined as “others” when discussing who deserves to be within the community membership of a country.
“Not every being with a human face is human.”-Carl Schmitt. 

Priebke and other Germans alike espoused the ideology presented by the Nazi Party; the ethnic revival of the Volksgenosse, is not to be confused with ethnic tolerance, or racial policies.
One has to remember that in the context of anti-Semitism; Europe as a whole subscribed to “cultivated” policies which made clear distinctions between Jews and non-Jews.
     There is a clear distinction to be made in reference to what Schmitt here stated.
What occurred in Germany and in other European countries stems from this basic tenet-ethnicity was (is) not based on the sanctity of human life.
     If it were so, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo, genocides would not have materialised.
Germans placed, “Cultural relativism to indicate their own superiority,” commented author Claudia Koonz.
     Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels expresed it best in his little publication: The little ABC’s of National Socialism-“Love Germany above all else and your ethnic comrade [Volksgenosse] as yourself!”
Koonz posits the dictum, “Germans did not become Nazis because they were anti-Semites; they became anti-Semites because they were Nazis.” 
This reinforces the view that conditions were ripe in Germany for a new kind of leadership; one which could rectify the ills of the country.
     Re-invest in what Germans loved best; order, ethnic pride, clear gender roles, and long term economic prosperity.
One had to make choices in Germany; and Priebke made his when he joined the Nazi Party.
Austrian-born American political scientist and historian Raul Hillberg argued that the Final Solution was, “not dependent on Hitler.” 
Hillberg is of the opinion that it was based on principle.
“Because perpetrators [Volksgenosse] grasped the ultimate aims of racial extermination, they improvised, and exceeded their orders.”
This coincides rather well with Priebke’s apparent state of mind, and continued belief in living under his own name.
 It is further exemplified by Koonz, “Not mindless obedience but selective characterized German’s collaboration with evil.” 
We often envelop Germany within its war-time record.
What is amiss, in this thought process is the absence of one important distinction between pre-war Germany as opposed to war-time Germany; racial policy.
    “Even passionate anti-Semites in the party realized that rage against the Jews [Judenkoller] could be counterproductive and understood that moderates (Germans) had to be convinced by other means.”-Koonz.
Priebke is not an isolated example of what National Socialism declared to offer Germans who, “bitterly disillusioned by the bankrupt promises of a liberal democracy” rallied to Hitler’s message of the Volk.
Understanding the under pinning’s of the contextual conditions which are made apparent by authors such as Koonz does not absolve murder.
    It does not un-blemish men, women and youth led Hitlerism in adopting a consciousness in which Koonz describes as being,
The ethical revolution that formed the backdrop and paradigm for the Nazi race war and prepared Germans to tolerate racial crimes well before the advent of genocidal murder battalions and extermination camps.”
    However it does illustrate the mechanisms in which we can learn to understand men such as Priebke; who dispassionately remained steadfast and faithful to an ideology which best identified their sense of “self-love and hate-others.”
The time when all remaining living Nazi perpetrators will cease to exist; moves closer every year.
It would be unfortunate not to learn from this example and allow the continuum of genocide to flourish in the 21st century.
Can you rationalize mass murder?
 It seems that we have to a degree already by not challenging dictatorships which continue to pursue racial ethnic protocols within its own citizenry.
I am more appalled, repulsed, and indignant in what is currently being done in Syria by the Arab Socialist Baath Party.
Nazism I understand, what I do not understand is that we as human beings continue to ignore; the rationalisation that some deserve to die, that it is better to divest ourselves of an “alien” threat at the expense of a marginalized ethnic group.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Only Good Indian-Essays by Canadian Indians edited by Waubageshig

The revised edition of this particular copy was printed in October of 1970.
I do not recall the exact time in which I purchased this edition; however I do recount its motive. Original indigenous contextual literature from the early 20th century is rare.
Rarer still are essays, such as this narrative in which give an unvarnished look at how indigenous people see themselves in this modern post cultural era.
Waubageshig wrote the introductory chapter in this book; and what is described by the author is a collage of “truths” by indigenous people.
“These views are unrepresentative because they are not “nice” views; they do not match civil service or cabinet policies.
 But there has been no attempt on my part as editor to fashion a publication which is representative of native opinion.
As an Ojibway, I know that representation of many people by one or a few voices is not yet a concept accepted completely by my people; indeed perhaps it never will be.”-Waubageshig
Three paragraphs which explain 400 years of continued strife over the same issues....hum Yes time does stand still does it not?
I must admit, in terms of research material for the North West Company this book did not speak to its role; in a direct manner. It does however give insight into the cross cultural linear patterns of indigenous thought.
Some examples in this book is of a political nature; some of you may recall what was then known as “Citizen Plus” most you understand this title in its more modern form-The Red Paper.
I will simply give you the synopsis of the reply.
“If this is his (PET) belief, where is his so-called flexibility especially when Indian people disagree with his mythical concepts of him leading the Indians to the promised land?”-Indian Chiefs of Alberta.
Many revile Pierre Elliot Trudeau; and yet no one can contradict the mannerism in which this Prime Minister chose to address the issue-straight on.
I would hate to envisage a Conservative government policy alternative to what Trudeau proposed in 1969.
Of course there is a chapter reserved for the issues faced by the Mushuau Innu.
“If the reasonable claims of the Inuit with respect to the North are ignored, frustration, loss of pride and ultimately loss of self-identity will result.
The Inuit will be destroyed psychologically and, to some considerable degree, physically.”-Inuit Tapirassat of Canada.
Remember this publication is merely 39 years old, and it speaks to what is currently being addressed in the media today. Does the name Furlong ring a bell?
 It should, and frankly it should ring so loudly that no other sound should be heard across the North.
Youth issues are often the topic of discussion on OCN. In fact it is a universal subject matter among sitting councillors who were recently elected on Chief and Council.
Where do indigenous youth issues lie? According to Marlene Castellano,
“Indians are preoccupied with their identity to a degree which is matched only by the preoccupation of native youth with their place in our society.”
Marlene Brant Castellano is an educated Mohawk indigenous person from the Bay of Quinte.
Castellano was 34 years old when she wrote her dissertation in 1974, and continued to be involved in communities in Winnipeg, Toronto and other regions in which she lived.
She speaks of disassociating practices within the school system.
“The more capable he becomes in the white man’s language and abstract concepts, the more he becomes alienated from his inner life.
The more he relies on words to share that which is himself, the clumsier he becomes in person-to-person communication with those who mean most to him.”
It is a passage that gives me pause to reflect, and think of all the youths that have succumbed to suicide; one in particular who shall remain forever in the minds and hearts of many Cree peoples of OCN.
The solutions described by Castellano are still being debated today; they still have to pass the litmus test.
One would think that one less instance of suicide to be ample motivation for change.
“...A return to the reservation is the most effective solution to the threat of social and psychological disintegration which engulfs many Indians attempting to function in the white man’s environment.
...particularly for a youth who has been conditioned to place a low value on the Indian way, usually makes permanent return to the reserve intolerable.”
Makes sense doesn’t it? So why are we still of the view that the success of indigenous youths lies outside of their own culture, and language?
I often think of Kenneth, Jeremy, and so many others that pulled through the very ordeals of finding their “truths”.
I am reminded of the MBCI graduates of 2012 which I had the privilege of speaking with.
It stirs my blood to hope for a better future, not only for them but also for my own son and daughter.
It is in their respective cultures in which they will remain grounded. It is in their language, in dance, in the very way they will choose to self-express through creativity-what best suit their needs.
Castellano is correct in bringing attention to what she aptly refers to a common prejudice, “...that education is the business of youth.”
I will describe one last point of view from this book; and it speaks to what has occurred November last, Idle No More.
Waubageshig posited this outcome; albeit 39 years ago, and no one could have envisioned its impact.
“...Indians will, for the first time in their contemporary history, find themselves in a powerful bargaining position.
Thus, Indians will have the opportunity to adequately gauge the limits of peaceful negotiations. Then it will be possible to discern if decolonization will occur and if so, whether or not it would be a violent process.”-Waubageshig, The Comfortable Crisis.
So much for light reading but there you have it, a glimpse of what I have spent the better part of 15 years of research since documenting the first forays of Basque (cod fishery off the banks of Newfoundland) incursions into indigenous territory.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's the news damnit...

 manipulating the media.
 The subject matter is daunting, but let us just skirt the issue and provide issue specific examples.
The most recent article on the CBC broadcast network comes to mind.
If you are not made aware of it, Furlong | Trouble in Natuashish comes from the top is a news article published on’s website on October 6th portraying the economic, cultural, and health conditions in Natuashish.
John Furlong is a host on CBC Radio One in St. John's.
“Perhaps they have all lost hope. Perhaps that's why they present themselves the way they do. Expressionless silent, brooding, uncommunicative. It comes across as menacing and arrogant, but it's just the way they are. It's not the way we are. It's just the way they are.”-Furlong.
This is just an excerpt but you can examine this at your leisure on
 Furlong clearly manipulated issues which continue to plague Innu people in the North.
What is most troubling in my view; are Furlong’s denigration of a people and simultaneously stating that colonizing the upper northern territories--to be one great giant blunder in which Canadians continue to pay for to this day.
Another editorial which was published in the Nanaimo Daily News (NDN) on September 23rd by Bill McRitchie spoke of,
“First Nations in Canada have tenaciously clung to their tribal system, refusing to evolve as equal Canadian citizens and perpetuating the perceived notion that they remain under the heel of non-aboriginals.”
McRitchie’s editorial while offensive to some; is not racist as was inferred by many who wrote angrily to the NDN.
McRitchie’s point of view is shared by many mainstream Canadians.
Under the Charter I believe that Freedom of Speech still applies; and in this case McRitchie is free to share his point of view with the public.
Simply stating that it smacks of “racism” is too easy, and in this case wrong.
McRitchie argues the validity to continue to “hold to account” predominantly Caucasian multiple ethnic groups by indigenous peoples in British North America (BNA).
I use the term (BNA) as it best represents what we understand the North American continent to be at this present time.
This is not a new phenomenon, it still exists today. If we examine pre 1925 and post 1963 Germany; the conditions of responsibility as a nation holds true.
Of course in the McRitchie example, no one nation is attributable to what the author describes as, “not the only ones to suffer from the encroachment of foreign powers.”
The argument to be made is-should Canadians be made to shoulder the consequences of one hundred and seventy-three years of true racist, genocidal, assimilative federal governmental policies towards indigenous nations living within the BNA?
McRitchie argues not; and this is where true racial tensions lie.
It is clearly stated in the article published by the NDN. 
Manipulations of this sort negate any balanced approach to gather and disseminate truthful reflections of what citizens truly believe without fear of reprisals.
I often hear the analogy, “It is what it is,” or “why stick my neck out.”
In reply I give some analogies that stand true to this day.
“News, which was defined by a young reporter as: “something someone does not want you to print,” is not the whole story. There are also those two: record and interpretation.”-author unknown.
Here is what we commonly refer to in journalistic circles as Hearst’s Truth.
“Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more interesting..”
 Have you witnessed someone speaking for hours or writing a plethora of words without actually saying anything?
Why standing for something is definitely more dangerous than standing for nothing.
I was taken to task by “others” god forbid I should actually refer to someone...that writing “negative” stories to be counter-productive.
Honestly I do not subscribe to this point of view.
In a democracy, a newspaper has the duty to present the facts, and give a voice to those that are willing to make observations “on the record”...even naming people...
It is not the business of the media to censor who can and cannot voice an opinion in the printed word; as long as it addresses the concerns of a community.
Of which can be best described as being impactful, within a period of time, prominence, (within proximity of a region).  It also includes conflict (Conflict reveals underlying causes of disagreement between individuals and institutions in a society), currency, and human interest.
If you recognize these qualities in your newspaper, then rest assured they are doing their upmost to keep you informed.
In addition, those who are in positions of authority in whatever capacity; and purposely silence those who dare speak up- giving a dissenting opinion contrary to their own or their place of employment- is reprehensible.
You want to be heard? Great, go “on the record” and speak you peace. Have the courage to stand for something, even if you think it might bring you pause to do so.

Speaking you mind should never be hazardous to your health, or cost you your job.

What about the North?

As per issues related to northern communities such as The Pas, transport, access and economic growth are vital to the continued prosperity of those who dwell here.
In passing this also gives me pause, and come to the conclusion that we do not seem to learn from our past; but let’s stay on this present course for the time being.
Each decade brings its own set of determinants; today we are dealing with a political statement made to influence an outcome based on assumptive proposition that environmental concerns supersedes every other.
What puzzles me is why we allow ourselves to be swayed by absolutist points of view without giving proper thought to what OmniTRAX proposes to achieve in relation to re-vitalizing the northern conduit towards the Port of Churchill.
Yadi-yadi-da….I as like you, sometimes we just shut our ears and look the other way, scoff at the pretentiousness of politicians trying to score points at our expense or just plain tired of it all.
 Environmental issues since Idle No More are more polarized and politically motivated.
Indigenous self-government activism is further muddling the issue (read further down) of who really has the authority to lay claim to what goes on at HBR.
To state that the rail line leading to Churchill is under-developed; is an understatement. It is in fact, derisible.
We continue to give way to lobby groups’ intent on maintaining the East-West corridor open, at the detriment of moving freight North and South of the province.
 It is time to flex some political will of our own and demand that we who live in the area be given the opportunity to work with all concerned and promote the north; forthwith.
Is the HBR rail track to Churchill meet current regulatory safety measures?
 OmniTRAX believes it to be so; and short of having a third party eye-witness capable of advocating for the public interest and only the public interest, who really believes it to be so?
If M├ęgantic taught us so far, is to severely question the process in which Canada Transport regulates the industry. Every day we hear through the Canadian Press instances where money and lack of supervision is allowing fail safe systems to lapse; causing catastrophic results.
Ashton seems to equate M├ęgantic as a “template” of what can possibly occur on the HBR rail line north to Churchill.
  Those that take the time to investigate the merits of Ashton’s argument will realize that it is rooted in ignorance.
What is really at play? Simply but…the complete restructure of wealth in this country.
If we were indeed able to learn from past example, we would be reminded of Jim Richardson.
“He drew attention to it in a simple, direct way. The Hudson Bay Railway, which had been a-building-off and on- since 1884, at last, in 1929, reached Churchill.
By the first direct train out of Winnipeg his firm sent one ton of Manitoba No. 1 Hard Wheat, sewn in two-pound canvas sacks, to be transported to England by the HBC’s S.S. Nascopia.”-J.W. Chafe (Extraordinary Tales from Manitoba History) 1973.
This is but one anecdotal first account of using the North-South corridor; many others are made manifest through other publications since the development of Hudson’s Bay by the HBC.
The point being that in the past three years there has been a concerted effort by multiple entities (both private and by provincial, and federal government(s)) specifying that a much greater influx of infrastructure and funds be assigned to develop this conduit.
Ashton’s reservations are directly linked at mitigating political risk. One cannot infuse funds in upgrading HBR’s track line to Churchill, without assuming responsibility to its security.
Whether or not it is the jurisdictional purview of the NDP government is not at issue here; avoiding a public opinion outrage is.
“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”- Franklin D. Roosevelt
That is what we are dealing with. The fear of an impending oil catastrophe within the transport, distribution and access of sweet crude oil import/export markets destined for the Port of Churchill.
Ashton may indeed fear such a catastrophe, as we all do, but impugning the efforts of the HBR/OmniTRAX Board of Directors to mitigate such devastation without due diligence is hypocritical.
One cannot direct a symphony at the back end of the room facing the wall.
In addition, I would presume that whatever political decision to be made by the Minister would bear in mind its effects on Centre Port’s abilities to continue business as usual.
Conjecture aside, what should be examined in the north are adequate relationship, partnership and revenue sharing of the HBR line with First Nations, OmniTRAX, Environmental affiliates, provincial and federal governments.
Yes, this is about money; money for shareholders, money for profit, money for growth, money to properly protect our environment, money for us all. One need not forego at the expense of the other. What OmniTRAX proposes to do by way of utilizing the HBR line to Churchill is what we should have done since 1823. 
It is time to realign our federal and provincial governments. It is time to demand representational governments; it is time that Canadians cease funding the East-West corridor at the expense of the North.

Any child will tell you that dividing a pie begins in the middle; so why are we still insisting to divide Canada’s wealth at the crust?