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Hydro report denies Pallister the easy path to privatization

February 26, 2021 - 3:00 AM

WINNIPEG—While full-scale privatization of Manitoba Hydro was not part of former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s new report, it does suggest incremental privatization, says Unifor.

“We can’t trust Brad Wall to advise anybody but Brad Wall,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “As premier he never acted in the best interests of working people. Nothing has changed.”

Wall’s history of implementing privatization and current ties to energy lobbyists casts doubt on the objectivity of his Manitoba Hydro projects report, says Unifor.

The report examined the oversight of the Bipole III and Keeyask hydro projects. Wall attempts to paint a picture of a public utility in crisis but stops short of recommending the whole-sale privatization of Manitoba Hydro. He still makes many recommendations incremental privatization through public-private partnerships, providing political cover for Pallister’s ongoing campaign for privatization.

The selling off of non-core assets is very concerning for Unifor Local 681 members who provide natural gas service to Manitobans.

“We can protect the terrific benefit of publicly owned utilities or we can become Texas north,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director, referring to the privatized power grid in Texas that was unable to cope with unseasonal weather this month.

Manitobans pay the lowest rates for hydro outside of Quebec. Conservative mismanagement is the only thing jeopardizing the Manitoban Crown corporation, says Unifor.

“It’s been the same conservative playbook for decades: manufacture a crisis and let your friends buy up the assets at a discount,” said McGarrigle.

Wall replaced another disgraced conservative premier, former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, when Campbell was accused of sexual assault.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries or to arrange interviews via Facetime, Zoom, or Skype please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).