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Ruling bolsters case for Hydro cash: MMF

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THE Manitoba Metis Federation plans to use its Supreme Court victory to push for compensation if Manitoba Hydro's proposed Bipole III transmission line runs through traditional land.

The Supreme Court said Friday the federal government did not deal with the Métis fairly in how it handed out land to Métis children in Manitoba more than 130 years ago. The ruling supports the MMF in future compensation-related talks with Ottawa.

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"There are 1.4 million acres (566,000 hectares) of land that was supposed to be there for the Métis," MMF lawyer Jason Madden said after the Supreme Court decision Friday. "For Bipole III, it's the exact area that Métis would be looking for a modern-day land-claim agreement to be negotiated with them, and part of that agreement likely would be land.

"It's not taking land away from people. It's not Métis people win downtown Winnipeg. This case has never been about that. But there are Crown lands that will be taken up by Hydro and those lands may be issues that we would want to look at for (compensation) settlements."

MMF president David Chartrand is to speak on the matter Monday when he addresses the province's Clean Environment Commission, which is finishing its environmental hearing into Bipole III. Manitoba Hydro has already said it will consult with the province's 52,000 Métis on the Bipole III transmission line and its 1,400-kilomtere route from northern Manitoba to the east side of Winnipeg.

Chartrand has said the western route of the line passes through the "Métis breadbasket." Hydro wants the line ready for 2017.

"I support the development of Hydro," Chartrand said at an earlier, "I truly do.

"The challenge is I'm not going to do it at the sacrifice of my people."

The MMF had threatened to take Hydro to court over what it said was a failure to consult with them on the $3.28-billion transmission line.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 9, 2013 A4

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