PC’s Hide Government Directive to Sell Off Hydro and Raise Rates

November 26, 2021

Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP is voicing concerns after they learned of a secret PC government directive ordering Hydro to implement the recommendations of the political Brad Wall inquiry, including a recommendation to sell off “non-core” parts of the Crown corporation.

“The Pallister-Stefanson government has always operated under a shroud of secret interference when it comes to Manitoba Hydro—whether it’s setting electricity rates behind closed doors or selling off pieces of the crown without telling the public,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “This time they have hid secret directives to interfere in the work of Hydro. It will mean higher costs for families and more risk to our most important crown utility. If Premier Stefanson wants to prove she’s any different from Brian Pallister, who didn’t think he owed Manitoban’s any transparency, she would withdraw this directive today.”

In an October 2021 letter from Manitoba Hydro executives to the Public Utilities Board, Hydro notes they received a directive from government in May 2021 to “implement the 51 recommendations in the Economic Review of Bipole III and Keeyask report...the implications of this directive will be understood, including cost implications, over the next 12 months.”

According to Hydro, this directive was issued in May 2021. Public disclosure laws stipulate all ministerial directives to provincial crown corporations must be published for Manitobans to see within 30 days.

The political Economic Review of Manitoba Hydro by former Conservative premier Brad Wall recommends a range of privatization measures for the corporation, including breaking apart and dissolving Hydro subsidiaries that are not “core” to the utility’s work. Wall also recommends using public-private-partnerships to deliver Hydro services and voices support for Bill 35 which set Hydro rate increases at the cabinet table.

“PC interference at Hydro costs Manitoban's money, and the public has the right to know about it,” said NDP Critic for Hydro Adrien Sala. “Anytime the PC’s try to hide their plans for Hydro from Manitobans it leads to privatization and more politics. That was Brian Pallister’s agenda— and unless Premier Stefanson withdraws this directive it will be the same agenda for her too.”