Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks on the opening of the rail line in Churchill, Manitoba
My friends, I know you can tell. I’m extremely happy to be here in Churchill today. I know that things haven’t been easy for the past year and a half for members of the community. Ever since the devastating flood badly damaged the Hudson Bay rail line, land access to Canada’s only deepwater Arctic port has been cut off. You all know too well the kind of far-reaching consequences this has had on your community. Prices surged. Projects had to be put on hold. Plans had to be delayed. Families, students, workers and shop owners were left stranded.
From the outset, as I told Mike, our government was determined to restore land access to Churchill. We wanted to establish a new model of ownership for the future that would empower the community and Indigenous peoples in the spirit of reconciliation. We know that nobody is more vested in the future of this rail and this port than the people who live here. Our goal was to find the right partners to see this project through. And after more than a year of hard work, our government successfully facilitated the deal struck between Arctic Gateway Group and the former owner. The rail line is now partly owned by the community.
And on that note, I need to acknowledge the incredible work done by a proud Manitoban, my friend, Minister Jim Carr, on this file. Thank you, Jim.
See, this has been a model of community empowerment and economic development for others to follow. Two great Canadian companies came together, Fairfax Financial and AGT Foods, along with community leaders to ensure the future of not only the rail line, but also this port. Racing against the changing seasons, this new partnership group faced its first big challenge, fixing the rail line before winter. And my friends, as we saw last night, they were more than up to the task.
This means that families will once again be connected to each other, that tourists will visit the polar bear capital of Canada and that the port will resume its operations. And that’s just not a line, “polar bear capital of Canada.” As we drove in from the airport half an hour ago, I spotted my first polar bear in Churchill. So, with this new deal, Churchill will have full control over its future.
Now, I want to take this moment to thank the people of Churchill for your patience. I know times have been incredibly tough. But the resilience and determination you have shown has been inspiring. You organized town halls. You made your voices heard. And when things weren’t moving fast enough, you put pressure on everyone involved. You did everything you needed to do to make sure we got this done and that we got this done right. And today, I’m happy to announce that the long wait will now be over. The rail line is expected to resume its regular operations servicing both passengers and freight by the end of November.
This is your victory. We owe the progress we made to your dedication, hard work and perseverance. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a new chapter for Churchill, one where people can enjoy everything their town has to offer and can share it with visitors.
The rail line will also help attract new investments that are more … are more than necessary in the community. And create better opportunities for the people and small businesses here. For example, Bell wanted to install the next generation of fibre optic Internet here in Churchill, but to bring all the materials required, they needed an operating rail line. So, when service resumes, the city will attract more investments like that one, which will help the community move forward. That said, our support is not limited to just turning the rail line over to new owners and providing funding for repairs. We have also committed to spending $43 million over 10 years to ensure the proper operation of the rail line. And we continue to make sound and targeted investments in the community.
Today, we are also announcing more than $3.8 million towards 40 projects that will increase tourism, provide skills training, help offset the freight costs stemming from the rail line closure, and open the door for even more investments in the community and more opportunities for residents.
We’re also taking unprecedented steps to fight climate change. Here in Churchill, you’ve seen firsthand what climate inaction looks like, and your community has been at the forefront of the effects of climate change. That’s why last week we announced our plan to put a price on pollution. Starting in 2019, Manitobans will directly receive a climate action incentive. This incentive will help Canadians adjust to an economy in which pollution is no longer free. I will also note that there will be a ten percent top-up for people living in remote communities like Churchill. In Manitoba this means that a family of four will receive on average $339 dollars year.
The remainder of the revenues we collect through carbon pricing will go towards financing energy efficiency programs for small and medium-sized businesses, municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, non‑profit organizations and Indigenous communities. We will also help protect the environment, create jobs and boost the local economy.
Today is great news for the people of Manitoba and indeed all Canadians for generations to come. I’m going to end it here because I know I want to take some questions and I’m looking forward to the community celebration shortly. But I really want to say, thank you. Thank you for being here this morning. Thank you for working with us. Thank you for opening this new chapter on a brighter future for Churchill and for Manitoba.
Thank you, friends.