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Ex-premier Wall hired to review Manitoba Hydro projects

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/10/2019 (209 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall has been hired to complete a review of Manitoba Hydro mega-projects. (Mark Taylor / Canadian Press files)

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall has been hired to complete a review of Manitoba Hydro mega-projects. (Mark Taylor / Canadian Press files)

The Pallister government has hired former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall to take over a review of Manitoba Hydro mega-projects that it initiated a year ago.

Wall will complete the job begun by former British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell, who stepped down in February from his role as the review's commissioner in the wake of a British newspaper report alleging he was the subject of a sexual assault investigation by London police.

The provincial cabinet passed an order last week formally replacing Campbell with Wall. It also extended the length of the review by close to a year. 

Campbell had been given a budget of $2.5 million and a deadline of Dec. 31, 2019 to complete a major economic review of the Keeyask Generating Station and the BiPole III transmission line projects. The two projects went billions of dollars over-budget.

The government had given Campbell the power, as the review's commissioner, to call witnesses and hold hearings. 

It has not said how much it paid Campbell before it cut ties with the former B.C. premier.

The government announced Wall's appointment in a news release late Thursday. A spokeswoman for Premier Brian Pallister said he was in meetings and could not be reached for an interview. 

Wall, 53, served as premier of Saskatchewan for more than 10 years before resigning in February 2018. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Wall has been given until Oct. 31, 2020 to complete the review.

"This review will look into timing issues, prior government directions, planning, approval and oversight issues, and the large-scale cost and financial implications these projects have for Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba ratepayers," Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton said in the news release.

"This important work will assist our government in avoiding the mistakes we inherited and will strengthen Manitoba Hydro's planning, decision-making and management processes, ultimately saving money," the minister said in the release.

Attempts to interview Wharton on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The Manitoba NDP has been critical of the review. The Opposition party has said that Manitoba Hydro has already been subject to several studies and its operations are under constant review by the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba.

"It seems unnecessary to spend millions of dollars on what is likely to be a very political exercise to try and justify more cuts -- and potentially hiving off portions of Manitoba Hydro to privatize," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Thursday.

Kinew also panned the government's choice of Wall to takeover the review.

"People's Sask Power bills went up dramatically while Brad Wall was premier," he said. "I'm not sure if that's the right guy to examine Manitoba Hydro."

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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History

Updated on Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 6:53 PM CDT: Updates to final version.

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