Ottawa delays approval of Manitoba-Minnesota transmission line
A planned hydro transmission line between Manitoba and Minnesota may be getting stalled because of a feud between the premier and the Manitoba Metis Federation.
"If the federal government wants to have the reputation of being green they should start acting like it," said Premier Brian Pallister.
Ottawa has pushed the final approval process of the project by one month until June 14. In a statement from the federal natural resources minister, the Trudeau government says the delay is being made following requests from Indigenous communities.
“It has become clear through our consultations that agreements offered by Manitoba Hydro to Indigenous communities, and then discontinued by the Manitoba government, were critical for Indigenous support for this project," said Alexandre Deslongchamps, director of communications for the natural resources minister.
Last year Pallister cancelled a $67.5 million deal between Manitoba Hydro and the MMF as part of consultations over hydro impacts. MMF president David Chartrand says with the agreement gone, the MMF can't support the project.
"Pallister's recklessness caused this damage that we now face, he did not have to cancel the Métis agreement," said Chartrand
Pallister says he doesn't regret the decision to tear up the deal and at the time called it hush money.
"We're simply not in the business of buying away Métis children's rights to protest against a hydro project 40 years from now,” said Pallister.
The premier says Manitoba's gone above and beyond on consultations.
He's written to the prime minister urging him to move the transmission line ahead. Pallister says even a year delay could cost ratepayers $200 million.
"We're in the red zone I guess is what I'm saying and the federal government is placing literally hundreds of millions of dollars at risk," said Pallister.
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew says the premier only has himself to blame.
"Pallister's undermined his own position on consultations because he for political reasons tore up the agreements with the Métis federation," said Kinew.
Manitoba Hydro says the delay presents a challenge towards the June 2020 in-service date. But it says it has an accelerated construction plan and arrangements in place with Minnesota Power in case of delays.
Minnesota Power tells CTV News, it’s portion of the transmission line is 75 per cent complete, on time and on budget.