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Federal Conservative leadership candidate says he would pre-approve permits to export oil through Churchill as prime minister

Pierre Poilievre says Port of Churchill could help Canada export 100,000 more barrels of oil per day and more if a pipeline were built to it.
pierre polievre
Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre said in Winnipeg April 2 that he would pre-approve oil export permits for the Port of Churchill if he became prime minister.

The Carleton MP said upgrades at the Hudson Bay port could make it possible for Canada to export 100,000 more barrels of oil per day, in the form of CanaPux, and that a pipeline to the Northern Manitoba town could increase export capacity by 200,000 barrels per day.

CanaPux is a heavy oil combined with a small amount of recycled plastic to create a granular product that is not oily and floats on water. The CEO of Arctic Gateway, which owns the port and the Hudson Bay Railways that leads to it from The Pas via Thompson and Gillam, said in November that the company was considering shipping CanaPux through Churchill, which is already capable of handling the product.

‘Canada’s considerable domestic resources, which can be extracted by Canadian workers with Canadian standards, have not been able to get to market because projects like the Port of Churchill have been stymied by government gatekeepers,” said Poilievre in a press release. “My government would work to pre-approve permits required to export oil from the port to markets around the word, giving investors the confidence they need to get it done. My government would unlock the potential of Canada’s Arctic port, and the Canadian paycheques it creates, and get our energy resources to the world.”

No grain was shipped from Churchill last year or will be this year as Arctic Gateway, which is owned by a consortium of 29 Indigenous and 12 non-Indigenous communities, mostly in Northern Manitoba, completes repairs on the Hudson Bay Railway, which is the only ground transportation link to the Northern Manitoba town on the shore of Hudson Bay.

The Arctic Gateway CEO said last fall that the suspension of grain shipments will allow the company, which also owns the railway, to rehabilitate and stabilize the rail line, which runs over muskeg, with particular emphasis on the section between Gillam and Churchill, which was unusable for more than a year after damage resulting from flooding before former owner OmniTrax sold it and the port to Arctic Gateway.

Arctic Gateway received $40 million from the federal government for rail repairs in August.

Former owner OmniTrax looked int the idea of shipping crude oil up the Hudson Bay Railway and out of Churchill as a way to bring in more revenue a few years before it sold the assets but shelved the idea, in part because of environmental concerns related to shipping oil by rail.

Poilievre said a federal government led by him would repeal bills C-69 and C-48 and replace them with clear and predictable new rules with hard deadlines that would protect the environment, consult First Nations and provide them with paycheques and give quick decision on energy projects. 

The leadership candidate also says he supports doubling Newfoundland & Labrador’s oil production and east-west energy projects like pipelines or rail construction. Poilievre also says a government with him as prime minister would ban oil from “polluting dictatorships.”

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