Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the federal government is standing in the way of a hydroelectric project that would help move states in the U.S. Midwest off of coal.
He argues that it will be residents in his province who are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars because of the delay.
In an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Pallister said the federal move to delay approval of the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project after it was supposed to decide last week is “historic” and puts the project at risk.
“We’re in the red zone,” he said, noting the cost of more delays, to Manitobans, will be $200 million per year.
“This is going to be very, very costly and dangerous, and you know, it’s fine for Ottawa to talk green — good — but don’t block green.”
WATCH: Manitoba Metis Federation threatens transmission line support
He continued, adding: “It seems a contradiction that they would block a green project while being on the verge of approving a pipeline, for example.”
According to Manitoba Hydro, the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project will extend a power line between Canada and the U.S. and increase the amount of electricity produced in the province that can be exported south.
It already has approval from the National Energy Board.
But last year, Pallister’s government scrapped two deals with the Manitoba Metis Federation, which the premier argued were only inked to get the Indigenous group’s buy-in on the project. He said the delay shows that the province and the federal government do not share the same view of how to pursue reconciliation.
“The feds seem to want us to accommodate or pay certain interest groups that are advocating against the project,” he said. “We’re not interested in doing that. We believe that real reconciliation means listening to, not cutting cheques.”
He said Manitoba has done five years of consultations with Indigenous stakeholders along the project route and has changed the route so that “75 per cent of it is no longer using Crown land.”
The current deadline for federal approval of the project is June 14.
Pallister is one of four premiers opposed to the federal carbon tax, arguing that it oversteps into provincial jurisdiction and hurts businesses.
Saskatchewan lost a court case last month on the matter but has appealed the ruling.
Ontario has also launched a court challenge that is pending a ruling, while New Brunswick opposes the tax but has not launched a challenge of its own.
Unlike Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, though, Pallister is not saying at this point whether he also plans to campaign against Trudeau in the fall election.
“The prime minister and I have had excellent discussions,” he said. “I think they’ve grown more fruitful as we learn about each other as people.”