Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/3/2018 (1116 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
What is happening in Manitoba today is not about the Métis, it is about the failings of Premier Brian Pallister. His inflated ego is at the heart of his dictatorial approach. He now seems to believe he is the sole decision-maker over Crown corporations in Manitoba — specifically, Manitoba Hydro. Let’s be clear. Crown corporations are owned by and operated for Manitobans and have been assured their independence. Pallister is now attempting to pierce the independence of Hydro. This apparent shift in policy and in action make it appear that he is trying to take personal control of all Crown relationships.
The premier’s biased judgment of the Métis as a "special interest group" is not only an ill-informed assumption, it is highly offensive and beneath any premier of Manitoba. The agreement made between the Manitoba Métis Federation and Manitoba Hydro is a legally binding contract. It overturns a colonial legacy and an often-challenging present and casts doubt on the hopeful future of change based on reconciliation, not litigation. It is exactly what the courts have urged the Crown to do.
If the premier had taken the time to read this agreement in its entirety, he would know that it is in the best interest of all Manitobans. For example, if Manitoba Hydro does not meet the deadline as established by the contract with American utilities, there will be serious legal and financial consequences. This is the level of consideration that Manitobans deserve, and this is the due diligence we all owe our fellow Manitobans. The misguided action by the premier does not protect ratepayers and taxpayers; it creates further uncertainty for Manitoba Hydro.
The ostrich must pull its head out of the sand, and recognize what the Manitoba Hydro board, previous provincial governments, the government of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada have recognized — Métis have rights and the MMF is the government of the Manitoba Métis Community. This is not about "persuasion"; it’s about the legal requirement to "accommodate," as defined and mandated by the Supreme Court. We need no lessons or advocacy from a premier who is a Métis rights denier.
It is realistic to acknowledge that everything the government does passes through a filter. What was not clear before, but is much clearer to us now, is that the premier thinks that there is only one filter for Crown relations and that he believes it to be himself.
The premier has made hefty accusations that the Métis have somehow coerced a Crown corporation into signing an agreement for $67 million over 50 years as "hush money" and these words are certainly bordering on libelous intent. This type of insinuation is unbecoming, as he continues to use wording such as persuasion, buying co-operation and pointing to one person as selling the rights of a nation now and into the future. At any rate, the premier is implying that I am selling rights that I have no right to sell. Again, if he had read the agreement eight months ago, he would have seen that Métis rights are not given away.
There are thousands of these types of agreements and contracts that have been signed and are in the process of being signed, all across Canada. This is not a new way of doing business, but is a new pathway to reconciliation that has been tested and tried and is proving to be win-win for everyone. Don’t let Pallister’s musings fool you — this was a decision agreed to by highly educated, professional, well-meaning participants who have the best interests of all Manitobans involved.
Premier Brian Pallister is right about one thing: it is an honour and a sacred trust to lead Manitobans. However, his methods have proved to be dishonourable and misleading to our fellow citizens. We deserve better. We deserve more.
David Chartrand is president of the Manitoba Metis Federation.