Hearings into controversial Manitoba Hydro project begin Monday

Hearings into the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project begin Monday in Winnipeg.
Hearings into the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project begin Monday in Winnipeg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/

The public will get a chance to have its say regarding a controversial Manitoba Hydro project.

The Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project is the proposed final leg of the Bipole III project and is expected to cost $453 million.

The National Energy Board (NEB) is holding two weeks of hearings this month, with the first week of hearings beginning Monday, allowing those who will be impacted by the project to voice their opinion.

Hydro Board resignation

The project was at the centre of a recent controversy involving the Manitoba Hydro board, Premier Brian Pallister and the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF).

READ MORE: 5 new members named to Manitoba Hydro Board

The board had offered to pay the MMF $70 million to allow the project to move forward without opposition. But the premier called the deal “persuasion money” and told Hydro to not move forward.

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This led to the resignation of the Hydro board, which said it hadn’t been able to meet face-to-face with the premier since October 2016.

Going to court

The Manitoba Metis Federation was not happy with all of this, accusing Premier Pallister of using “race card tactics” to “divide Manitobans for his own failings.”

READ MORE: MMF accuses Premier of “race card tactics”

The MMF has said it’ll be taking the Pallister government to court and will be filing a court order Monday, looking to overturn the decision to not proceed.

“The MMF will defend its citizens, the Manitoba Metis community and our agreements with the Crown against the arrogance and ignorance of Premier Pallister,” Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said in a statement.

“A Manitoba premier who insults the Metis people — the proud founders of this great province — is a disgrace to us all.

READ MORE: MMF taking province to court over quashed Hydro agreement

The first set of hearings, beginning Monday and lasting until Friday at the Radisson Hotel, are oral traditional evidence hearings, which allow indigenous groups to share stories and knowledge.

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Public hearings will then begin for a week on June 18 at the Delta Hotel, where final presentations will be made to the NEB.

Once the hearings are complete, the NEB said it’ll determine whether the project is in the public interest and make a recommendation to federal cabinet, which will then make a final decision.

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