The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is threatening to pull its support for the final leg of the massive power line to Minnesota after Manitoba Hydro has offered payouts to nearly a dozen First Nations in the province.
A Manitoba Hydro spokesperson confirmed that it has offered millions of dollars to 11 First Nations communities.
The news comes just three months after the province killed a $67 million term sheet with the MMF that would smooth the way for future Hydro projects across Manitoba.
“You have to ask the question: why is OK for First Nations and not for Metis?” MMF lawyer Jason Madden said.
Madden added it’s possible for the MMF to launch legal challenges that could delay the transmission line for years, including voicing concerns with the federal minister responsible for issuing the project’s license.
“The MMF supports this project but it is conditional on that agreement being respected,” Madden said. “It’s almost like a self-inflicted wound.”
In March, the premier called the term sheet with the MMF like giving away “persuasion money”.
The MMF launched a judicial challenge at the beginning of June.
When pushed on why the province would accept one deal and deny another, a spokesperson said on Tuesday that the First Nations offer was project-specific.
But that means nothing to the MMF, who said their “broken promise” should serve as notice to any groups wanting to deal with Hydro.
“When you’re sitting across the table and negotiating with them…there’s someone behind the scenes pulling their strings.”
The transmission line is currently being reviewed by the National Energy Board.
The $453 million line has a targeted completion date of 2020.