A Colorado-based company trying to sell the Hudson Bay Railway and grain terminal in Churchill has filed a statement of claim in Court of Queen’s Bench against the Manitoba government and the Premier.
OmniTrax is accusing Premier Greg Selinger and Infrastructure Transportation Minister Steve Ashton of breaching a non-disclosure order about the proposed sale to a Manitoba First Nation and an accounting firm.
None of the allegations contained in the Statement of Claim have been proven in court.
OmniTrax announced the sale of the 820 kilometre railway, the deep water Churchill port and other assets to a group of First Nations last December. A 45-day due diligence period started and expired.
The railway traverses muskeg and is notoriously unstable. The market to send grain through the northern port has also declined. The previous Harper government sold the Canadian Wheat Board in 2012. Renamed G3 Canada, the firm uses west coast and Great Lakes ports to move grain to foreign markets. OmniTrax was also forced to abandon a plan to ship oil north after several groups including the provincial government opposed the move.
The lawsuit accuses Premier Greg Selinger and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton of sharing confidential information about the sale including accountants MNP and the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas, Manitoba.
The claim accuses Selinger and Ashton of: “…improperly applying pressure on the plaintiffs to take certain steps in connection the sale.”
The claim uses exceedingly strong language: “The unlawful and wrongful conduct of the defendants… amounts to a deliberate, high-handed, wanton and outrageous interference with the plaintiffs’ rights, which the defendants know or ought to have known would cause damage.”
The Canadian President of OmniTrax Canada Merv Tweed is a former Conservative Member of Parliament and a provincial Progressive Conservative member of the Manitoba Legislature.
A written response from the NDP called the allegations “unsubstantiated” and said government officials are reviewing the claims. A government statement says after the claim is served, it will be defended and they intend to deny the allegations.
The last week of the election campaign has featured several stories accusing the leaders of the political parties of misleading voters or misconduct.
It was reported last week Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister mislead Manitobans about a vacation property he owns in Costa Rica. Pallister didn’t immediately disclose how much time he spent at the property when first asked about it in 2014.