Government Commitments

Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation

NDP government allows Manitoba Hydro to deal directly with Indigenous nations again

October 31, 2023

Premier Wab Kinew’s cabinet rescinds PC restriction on Crown corporation’s negotiations

A closeup of a blue sign outside a building with a logo reading "Manitoba Hydro."
Manitoba Hydro is now permitted to speak to Indigenous governments again. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

CBC Indigenous: Manitoba’s NDP government is once again allowing Manitoba Hydro to deal directly with Indigenous nations.

Premier Wab Kinew said Tuesday his cabinet has rescinded a Progressive Conservative order that prevented the Crown corporation from engaging in talks with First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments.

“This is a significant message to the corporation that they need to dramatically improve the way they engage with Indigenous nations across Manitoba,” Kinew told an assembly of the Keewatin Tribal Council at Winnipeg’s Wyndham Garden Hotel.

The premier called it “a first step among many” his government will take to improve Manitoba Hydro.

Former premier Brian Pallister put the order in place after his government nixed a financial settlement between Manitoba Hydro and the Manitoba Métis Federation in 2018. 

Kinew said Pallister blamed the deal for a mass resignation of Manitoba Hydro’s board.

“This order was one of the steps he put in place to try to legitimize the excuse-making that he was doing at the time,” Kinew said of Pallister. “What it also means is not only the MMF, but many First Nations were prevented from going to Hydro and getting legitimate issues dealt with.”

The Métis Federation and Hydro eventually reconciled during the final months of former premier Heather Stefanson’s PC government.

In August, the MMF and Hydro signed a 50-year, $120-million deal intended to address the effects of hydroelectric developments on Métis people throughout the province, and define how the two organizations can work together on future Hydro projects.

Nonetheless, federation president David Chartrand said he was pleased to see the Kinew government end the restriction on Manitoba Hydro’s ability to speak to Indigenous governments.

The policy and order put in place under Pallister were “nothing more than vengeful attempts to deflect attention and feed mistruths to Manitobans about the Hydro board’s mass resignation, while blaming the MMF,” Chartrand said in a statement.

He described the order as “an openly discriminatory policy that was set up to divide Manitobans and pit us against each other.”

Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said in a statement the Crown corporation is pleased to work toward reconciliation.

With files from Kristin Annable