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Pallister 'without a doubt' has racial bias: MMF president

Premier refuses to apologize, Métis leader derides 'unfortunate' mentality

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/9/2018 (654 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

LA BROQUERIE — Premier Brian Pallister won't apologize for his past comments about the Manitoba Metis Federation, and the MMF believes his refusal to do so implies racial bias against the organization.

"This man without a doubt has racial bias in him, without doubt," MMF president David Chartrand said Monday, after hearing the premier refused to apologize to the MMF, despite its call for him to do so a day earlier.

"He’s trying to pit one group of people against the Indigenous people and it’s unfortunate this premier is using that kind of racial-divide mentality" ‐ MMF president David Chartrand

"This leader of the Conservative party truly has a racial connotation in his remarks and it doesn’t take much for somebody to see between the lines what he’s trying to do and what he’s trying to say. He’s trying to reference that Indigenous people don’t actually own land and should have no rights to that land," Chartrand said.

"Those that are private owners that have bought the land, purchased the land, theirs are the rights that should be compensated.... He’s trying to pit one group of people against the Indigenous people and it’s unfortunate this premier is using that kind of racial-divide mentality."

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESManitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said 'it doesn't take much to see between the lines' of what Premier Brian Pallister is trying to say.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILESManitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said 'it doesn't take much to see between the lines' of what Premier Brian Pallister is trying to say.

At a Bell MTS announcement about extended cell service to southeast Manitoba Monday, the premier told reporters he had "nothing to apologize for" regarding his past comments about the MMF.

In March, after nine out of 10 Manitoba Hydro board members resigned at once, Pallister said the reason for the departures was his government’s decision to veto a planned Hydro payment of close to $70 million to the MMF to keep the organization from pressing for extended environmental hearings on a proposed Manitoba-Minnesota transmission line.

"I don’t believe it’s right to stand back as a government that’s committed to trying to fix the finances in this province for Manitobans... and then watch as a Crown corporation makes a $70-million payment to a special-interest group," Pallister told media in March, referring to the planned payout as "persuasion money."

Former Hydro board members, including onetime board chair Sanford Riley, refuted the premier's claim, arguing Pallister refused to meet with them to discuss several critical issues, leading to their resignations.

Chartrand said the payment — which would have been made in instalments over 50 years — was intended as compensation for myriad projects, including the Manitoba-Minnesota transmission line.

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the government's practice of not spending money to curry favour will continue.

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the government's practice of not spending money to curry favour will continue.

"We’re not in the business as a government of trying to buy favour by paying money to people so they like us" – Premier Brian Pallister

At the organization's annual general assembly over the weekend, more than 3,000 delegates voted unanimously in favour of a resolution demanding an apology from Pallister "for his disrespectful statements about the MMF and its leadership, and more significantly, his ongoing disrespect of the rights and claims of the Manitoba Métis Community."

On Monday, Pallister said he doesn't regret his past statements "at all."

"We’re not in the business as a government of trying to buy favour by paying money to people so they like us. What we’re in the business of doing is making sure that people are compensated fully and fairly when a Hydro project or any other government-led project is built," the premier said.

"And so, that’s our approach as a government. We will not be continuing with the old practices of paying millions of dollars to buy favour with people. Instead we’ll treat everyone fairly and fully compensate them when there are damages."

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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