Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the company that owns the rail line serving the northern Manitoba town of Churchill must repair the washed-out tracks that have been out of commission since May.
Denver-based Omnitrax has said it won’t pay to repair the tracks, which were damaged by severe flooding. It has asked the federal and provincial governments for help.
“Omnitrax has legal obligations to clean up and repair the tracks,” Trudeau told a news conference at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Saturday morning. “This is a responsibility that is squarely on the shoulders of Omnitrax.”
But the prime minister wouldn’t say whether he planned to pursue legal action against the company.
Earlier Saturday, Trudeau had sat down with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister to discuss a range of topics, including the Churchill rail line, at a closed-door meeting. The two have clashed in the past several months over a range of issues, including the federal government’s carbon-reduction strategy and funding for health care.
Hold Omnitrax to account
“I had a very productive conversation with Premier Pallister this morning, where we agreed that Omnitrax needs to be held to account and that we need to act to support the people of Churchill,” Trudeau said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pallister said the province and federal government didn’t arrive at any firm commitment on how to repair the rail line, which is Churchill’s only land link to the rest of the province.
It is critical both for getting supplies to the town of 900 people and for allowing residents of Churchill to travel, as the only alternative is more expensive air travel.
“We’re really asking for clarity around Ottawa’s intentions on Churchill, of course, because we know that that is a federal issue and it is one that we…