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Manitoba Hydro Board Resigns Over Inability to Meet with Pallister Government

March 21, 2018 10:46 AM | News

Hydro Tower

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)

WINNIPEG — Nine of the 10 members on the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board resigned Wednesday over what they say were failed attempts to meet with Premier Brian Pallister and his government.

“For over a year we have attempted to meet with the premier to resolve a number of critical issues related to the finances and governance of Manitoba Hydro, including matters related to Hydro’s efforts to further develop its relationship with Indigenous peoples,” a statement from the board said.

The resigning members are Dave Brown, Earl Edmondson, Steve Kroft, Jennefer Nepinak, Michael Pyle, Allen Snyder, Dayna Spiring and Dr. Annette Trimbee. Conservative MLA Cliff Graydon remains on the board.

Board chair H. Sanford Riley, who has also resigned, issued the statement on the members’ behalf, which continues, “Despite repeated attempts we have not been able to have a meaningful dialogue with the government and we have reached an impasse. We have been informed the government intends to remove the chair and has therefore lost confidence in the board. Accordingly, we have determined that it is necessary to resign.”

The board’s resignation was submitted in writing earlier today to Crown Services Minister Cliff Cullen.

Pallister, however, said the resignations stem from a dispute over a plan by Hydro to pay $70 million to the Manitoba Metis Federation so the organization won’t pursue concerns over a new transmission line to Minnesota.

“I would describe it more as persuasion money,” Pallister said Wednesday. “To not push for extended environmental hearings on that line and also for acquiescence or non-participation in future such proposals that Hydro might make.”

Pallister said when the government discovered the planned payment, it immediately objected.

In a statement, federation president David Chartrand accused Pallister of using “race card” tactics.

He said there was a negotiated agreement with the Hydro board that respected Metis rights and would save Manitobans millions in litigation costs and delays around Hydro projects.

— With files from The Canadian Press