Thursday, October 10, 2013

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? 

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