Lat­est salvo fired in dis­pute over bro­ken rail line

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

The own­ers of a port and bro­ken rail line in north­ern Man­i­toba are fil­ing a com­plaint against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment un­der the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

Den­ver-based Om­ni­trax says Ot­tawa’s de­ci­sion to end the Cana­dian Wheat Board’s mo­nop­oly in 2012 dras­ti­cally cut grain ship­ments through the Port of Churchill, be­cause they moved to other ports in the open mar­ket.

In a no­tice filed with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment Tues­day, Om­ni­trax says the change made the port and rail line to Churchill no longer vi­able.

The rail line is the only ground con­nec­tion to the sub­arc­tic town and it has been in­op­er­a­ble since it was dam­aged by se­vere flood­ing this spring.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has served no­tice it in­tends to sue Om­ni­trax for fail­ing to re­pair and main­tain the rail line after re­ceiv­ing $18.8 mil­lion for re­pairs and up­grades a decade ago.

Om­ni­trax’s com­plaint al­leges the end of the wheat board was dev­as­tat­ing to Om­ni­trax and ben­e­fited other rail lines and ports, all of which are Cana­di­anowned.

“Ar­ti­cle 1102 of the NAFTA re­quires that Canada pro­vide to in­vestors or in­vest­ments of the other NAFTA Par­ties treat­ment that is ‘no less favourable’ than it pro­vides to its own,” the no­tice doc­u­ment states.

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