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Manitoba grain heading to Thunder Bay

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The head of CP Rail is open to moving grain to largely empty grain terminals in Thunder Bay to help ease pressure on Manitoba grain elevators.

That was the message from two Manitoba cabinet ministers who spoke with CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison via conference call on Monday.

They said they were satisfied with the personal assurances that Harrison gave them of the company’s support for the initiative.

"To have the CEO of CP undertake to personally get involved to look at shipping grain through Thunder Bay, I think, is a huge step forward," Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said.

Manitoba farmers, since they are furthest from West Coast ports that operate year-round, have been arguably the hardest hit by the grain-transportation bottlenecks that have left farmers unable to ship a record Prairie crop.

Traditionally, Manitoba farmers ship more than half their crop through eastern Canadian ports, although the St. Lawrence Seaway is closed for a good part of the year.

Manitoba grain elevators are said to be 112 per cent full — with piles of grain sitting on the ground outside of many facilities. Meanwhile, Alberta and Saskatchewan elevators are on average 86 per cent and 89 per cent full respectively.

Earlier this month, the federal government said it would order the railways to move a minimum amount of grain each week. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said the minimum would be set at 500,000 tonnes, which works out to 5,500 grain cars each for Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. She said the railways would be fined for failing to meet the new minimums.

 

 

 

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