The Conservative government has appointed five new members to the Manitoba Hydro Board.
The newly-appointed directors are Marina James (chair), Michael Moore (vice-chair), Lisa Meeches, Melanie McKague and Wade Linden.
“The five new appointees to the board come from diverse sectors and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the work of the corporation,” Minister of Crown Corporations Cliff Cullen said in a news release. “Our government is confident and excited that these qualified and capable individuals are willing to take up the challenges that lay ahead of Manitoba Hydro and that they will work in the best interest of the corporation and of all Manitobans.”
The board’s new chair has been the chief executive officer of WinnipegREALTORS since 2016. Prior to that, she served as president and chief executive officer of Economic Development Winnipeg.
It’s unclear if this will be the new size of the board or if there are more appointments coming.
The new delegations come hot on the heels of a mass exodus of nine members of the Board earlier this week.
Premier Brian Pallister said that decision came after his office expressed concerns over the board’s decision to pay the Manitoba Metis Federation $70 million to help make construction of a transmission line between Minnesota and Manitoba “go smoother”.
“I would describe it as more persuasion money,” Pallister said. “We don’t agree with that payment. That has ramifications for indigenous groups that might apply for compensation and want money, it has implications for the construction of an outlet on the north end of Lake Manitoba.”
In a statement MMF President David Chartrand accused the Premier of using “race card” tactics to “divide Manitobans for his own failings.”
Chartrand said the MMF had reached an agreement with the Hydro Board that would save taxpayers money and prevent unnecessary delays.
But the board chairmen said their resignation was not about the premier kiboshing the deal, but instead about a lack of communication.
In a three-page resignation letter obtained by Global News, board chair Sanford Riley said despite “numerous requests”there had been no face-to-face meeting with Premier Brian Pallister since October 2016.
In the letter, the board said the province had indicated at their appointment that it was looking for members with “deep business and financial experience to provide proper, meaningful oversight and direction to the province’s largest business….Many of us have extensive experience…and we expected that our collective backgrounds would be very helpful…”
But the letter said that lack of engagement made their jobs impossible.
Manitoba Hydro is currently $16.4 billion in debt and is projected to reach $25 billion within the next two to three years.