Premier Dennis Fentie’s name has surfaced in a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, but the document will prove a disappointment to anyone hoping for a bombshell revelation.
The dispatch, written in March of 2005 and classified as “sensitive,” describes how Fentie helped Alaska governor Frank Murkowski promote a proposed rail link joining their jurisdictions.
Dubbed “Rails to Resources,” the railway would have spurred the export of timber, minerals and oil and gas to the Lower 48, according to the pitch made by Fentie and Murkowski to their federal leaders.
The project would have required building more than 2,000 kilometres of railroad to connect Fairbanks to a Canadian spur, either at Fort Nelson or Fort St. James. Enthusiasm for the project died several years after the cable was written, after a $5-million feasibility study found the link would cost $10 billion.
Even in 2005, as Fentie and Murkowski sought support for the railway, the Canadian government, led by Liberal Paul Martin, appeared far more cool to the project than the Americans. “This lack of enthusiasm appears to stem from concerns that the rail project would be excessively expensive with doubtful economic benefits,” the cable states.