WINNIPEG – Premier Brian Pallister has revealed that the previous NDP government gave Omnitrax a large subsidy last year.
But that gravy train is over.
He says the NDP gave more than 800-thousand dollars to the company that operated the Port of Churchill.
Pallister also released an agreement he says was kept secret, which saw taxpayer money flow to Omnitrax last year. But when the PCs refused to continue what he calls a “bail out”, Omnitrax shut down the Port and laid off its workers.
“Levering on the fears and the hopes and security of Manitobans is never something I would support and doing it to obtain a better business deal is not the way we are going to be engaging with corporations.” Pallister said.
He wouldn’t reveal any details of what Omnitrax is asking for, citing confidentiality requirements.
“I’ve been given legal advice that there’s a non disclosure aspect to this agreement and I do not agree with that.
“I don’t like being put in a position of having to tell the people paying these bills that they don’t have the right to know what’s going on.”
Following Pallister’s remarks, the NDP released its own statement:
“Our government was resolved to ensure the port stayed open while transitioning to a new sustainable ownership model. We worked in good faith, and were prepared to be part of the solution.”
NDP MLA Tom Lindsey doesn’t deny that there was a financial arrangement with OmniTrax under the previous government but it couldn’t be disclosed publicly because it involved economic information of a private company.
“After four days of hearing nothing from the premier, he’s told us what he isn’t going to do,” adds Lindsey. “Now let’s hear what he is prepared to do and hopefully he’s going to communicate that.”
The closure of the port has put dozens of employees out of work in Churchill, which has a population of 800. Pallister says they are working with the federal government to see how to support anyone who lost their job.