The recent accounts in the Winnipeg Free Press that Manitoba NDP leadership candidate Andrew Swan, if elected, will reconsider the party’s decision to run a major hydro corridor down the east side of Lake Winnipeg are false. It’s important to note that the reports in the Winnipeg Free Press indicating that Andrew Swan would revisit the BiPole III issue do not contain any direct quotes to that effect. Here is Andrew Swan’s response to the claims:
“I want to be crystal clear on the Bipole lll issue because I know how important it is to Manitoba’s future, said Swan. “After extensive consultation with stakeholders, the decision on the location of Bipole lll was made. I believed the decision was the right one then, and I believe it is the right one today. I look forward to hearing all ideas about how we can create a better future in all regions of Manitoba, and I am willing to work with all communities to see that happen.”
Assertions were also made in the Free Press that AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans and The Pas MLA Frank Whitehead were backing Swan’s leadership bid as a result of his willingness to reopen the debate on east and west side routing options. In response, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Ron Evans stated categorically that at no time did he suggest to others that there was a deal on the table to re-visit the location of Bipole III. Here is what Frank Whitehead had to say in reply to the allegation:
“The only commitment made by Andrew was an agreement that he would meet with as many First Nations as possible, including all First Nations on the east-side of Lake Winnipeg, during his first year as Premier,” Whitehead said.
“There was no quid pro quo for our endorsement as it pertains to Bipole III. We chose Andrew because we believe he is the best leader for today and tomorrow. Any suggestion otherwise is incorrect.”
According to a Winnipeg Free Press article on September 22nd:
“Leadership candidates Greg Selinger and Steve Ashton said the decision to build Bipole III down the west side of the province should not be reversed. Doer said building down the west side protects the environment and increases Manitoba Hydro’s ability to export more power south of the border. Legislation to help protect the east side’s boreal forest from development, paving the way for a UNESCO World Heritage site and effectively killing any chance of a power line down the east side, became law in June.”
CPAWS supports the First Nations on the east side of Lake Winnipeg that oppose BiPole III slicing through the region. The decision to keep the major hydro corridor away from the east side will increase the eligibility of a World Heritage Site being designated in the area.
“Manitoba’s east side is part of the world’s largest intact section of boreal forest. Canada’s boreal forest is home to over 600 First Nation communities. It’s also the world’s largest source of fresh water, the northern lungs of the planet, and the Earth’s largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon, which helps to slow climate change,” said Ron Thiessen, Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) – Manitoba chapter.