When I was a young man, I was involved in a 4-H program, and lived by the organization’s motto, “Learn to Do by Doing.”
What I learned from that experience is that people make a difference. I grew up in a rural community where our school was a community school. It was actually built by the parents of the children who attended that school. I coached and volunteered, just as my parents had done, because I knew that people make a difference in the lives of others. As an elected official, I’ve learned that people matter greatly when it comes to developing policy that makes sense.
The NDP doesn’t understand that. They are directing Manitoba Hydro to plow ahead with a $21-billion megaproject plan gamble to build two new hydro dams and a hydro transmission line without giving the people of Manitoba a say in how that project should be structured, or if the project is needed at all. Instead of being open, transparent and including Manitobans in the decision process, the NDP hides facts and makes it as difficult as possible for Manitobans to understand the project.
Take, for instance, the review processes for these projects. According to Manitoba’s Sustainable Development Principles economic and environmental decision-making should be integrated to create a clear picture of whether the project makes sense. The Wuskwatim dam was reviewed this way and the process worked well. For the megaproject however, the NDP created four different review commissions to study individual pieces of the project. These commissions complained they can’t do a complete job without more information and a better review process than the one dictated by the NDP. The NDP refused to provide it.
Many Manitoba Hydro officials and experts, both present and past, say that the NDP’s approach doesn’t make sense. Past NDP cabinet ministers like Len Evans and Tim Sale — a previous minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro — say the NDP needs to rethink these plans to get the best bang for each taxpayer’s buck. I couldn’t agree more.
But the NDP’s plan is different. According to the experts, Manitoba will not need new power generation for a decade. The NDP is directing Manitoba Hydro to spend $21 billion on the Keeyask and Conawapa dams and BiPole III hydro line on the gamble of selling profitable power into foreign markets. The effect of this megaproject gamble will be to triple your Manitoba Hydro debt and have your hydro rates double, if the NDP’s gamble on export sales pays off. Given the new supplies of energy like wind power and natural gas competing with Hydro this is not a sure bet.
In the end, the NDP won’t have to pay up if its gamble doesn’t work, the people of Manitoba and their children will be forced to pay. The price will be higher hydro bills and increased taxes to cover Hydro’s debt. That’s why it’s so important Manitobans demand a complete and open review of the megaproject plan by experts and not NDP cabinet ministers.
This will only happen if Manitobans get involved and tell Greg Selinger the NDP must put its plans up for a complete and transparent review. Manitobans cannot afford an NDP megaproject gamble without full knowledge of the facts.
Let Premier Greg Selinger know the NDP megaproject gamble needs to be reviewed. Write him at: Room 204, Legislative Building, 450 Broadway, Winnipeg, Man., R3C 0V8, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can call him at 204-945-3714.
Leader of the
MLA for Fort Whyte
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 5, 2013