Manitoba Hydro President and CEO Scott Thomson reacted to Canadian Taxpayer Federation criticism, expressing his continuing disappointment at the CTF’s misleading statements.
“There is nothing new in the information released today by the CTF – except for the fact that a close reading of the documents reveals that Manitoba Hydro carefully audits payments for its consultation process with First Nations, rather than the depiction of a careless handling of payments as implied by the CTF,” said Thomson.
Thomson noted that Hydro’s modern approach to resource development is an inclusive one that engages Aboriginal people and other resource users prior to projects being put in place to identify potential environmental and other project impacts in advance. It can then incorporate mitigation strategies into the projects in order to reduce post-implementation impacts and costs. Manitoba Hydro has paid more than $1 billion in compensation and mitigation for past hydroelectric developments.
While expenditures on Aboriginal engagement are significant in absolute terms, they are a small percentage of the overall anticipated project costs. A number of the documents were Hydro memos accompanying reimbursement for expenses agreed to with First Nation partners, each containing explanations for expenses claimed but disallowed or adjusted in accordance with pre-determined budgets or claim limits.
“This illustrates that Hydro has not provided anyone with a ‘blank cheque’ but that any expenditures are agreed upon in advance and invoices are checked and corrected if necessary,” said Thomson.
Band Council Resolution documents show that Chief and Council exercised their prerogative in engaging consultants at rates higher than Hydro’s reimbursement rates. The Band absorbs those costs, not Hydro customers.