Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister is calling for the release of an overdue audit of Manitoba Hydro management of the Keeyask project in northern Manitoba.
“We believe the audit is complete and call on the NDP government to join us in requesting it be immediately released. Anything less is an admission they are suppressing the report,” said Pallister.
Pallister requested the audit in a letter to the Auditor General’s office dated March 26, 2013. The request centres around concerns with Hydro’s reimbursement policy for future hydro-electric development projects in northern Manitoba. The audit has been underway since 2014.
From 2011 to 2013 (the time of the letter), Manitoba Hydro provided nearly $224 million to First Nations affected by the development of the BiPole lll transmission line and three new generating stations (Keeyask, Conawapa and Wuskwatim). The funding was intended to reimburse First Nations for negotiation costs surrounding the development.
In the letter to the AG, Pallister goes on to state, “I have reason to believe that the current reimbursement policy process may inflate costs and could allow for misdirection of funds.”
In December Auditor General Norman Ricard testified at Public Accounts that the 90-day communication ban against government announcements prior to elections was the reason he wasn’t releasing the audit. He said it doesn’t give the “department or the minister the opportunity to make a public statement about it.”
When asked if there was any information he was waiting for which would explain why he wasn’t going to meet the December deadline, his response was, “No, there is no material that we're waiting on. The reason is – purely sits with me.”
Since the NDP have been hosting media briefings in the Legislature and publishing government reports of their own, there is clearly no reason the audit report could not be published today unless the NDP are attempting to suppress additional evidence of their mismanagement.
Manitobans own Hydro, not the NDP. The indigenous communities impacted by Keeyask deserve to know where this money went.