The Manitoba Metis Federation

The Manitoba Metis Federation

September 11, 2013 09:34 ET

Manitoba Metis Federation Appeals Bipole III License

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwired - Sept. 11, 2013) - Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand announced the MMF's appeal of the recently issued environmental license for the proposed Bipole III Transmission Line. Pursuant to the Environment Act, the Federation will file a formal appeal with the Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship today in advance of the 30-day deadline for such appeals.

Bipole III is a proposed 1,300 kilometer transmission line that starts in northern Manitoba near Gillam and terminates in Winnipeg. The project will have a significant impact on Métis in the northern and southern Manitoba as well as add a new and significant disturbance throughout the western regions of the province, an area already under significant environmental stress. In particular, this region is extensively relied upon by the Manitoba Métis Community for cultural and traditional resource purposes.

Over the last several years, the MMF has continued to raise concerns about the lack of adequate assessment on impacts and accommodation of Métis rights and interests with respect to Bipole III. "The Manitoba Government cannot continue to cavalierly ignore its constitutional obligations owing to the Manitoba Métis Community in relation to new development in this province," said President Chartrand. The MMF is appealing the Minister's decisions because the recently issued Bipole III license does not address these impacts or concerns of the Manitoba Métis Community.

"The Clean Environment Commission (CEC) has recently noted that Manitoba Hydro had undertaken ineffective engagement with Aboriginal communities in general and the Métis community specifically in relation to Bipole III. This licence now gives Manitoba Hydro 'carte blanche' to continue with the status quo," Chartrand said. "This is unacceptable to the Manitoba Métis Community. The days when the Manitoba Government and its agent - Manitoba Hydro - can simply do as they please in relation to lands the Métis rely on for their identity, culture and way of life are over. Our people have been 'collateral damage' to Manitoba Hydro's plans too many times in the past. We will not allow this to happen again."

The Bipole III project will impact the rights of Métis in the north, the heart of the "Métis bread basket" on the west side of Manitoba and in the "old postage stamp province" that was at issue in the MMF Land Claim. "Manitoba Hydro's Environmental Impact Statement and the CEC's Report on Bipole III acknowledged there will be effects on Métis culture and resources use," noted Chartrand, "yet the Manitoba Government has done nothing to assess or address these impacts."

The MMF's appeal is based on the Manitoba Government's breach of the honour of the Crown and its duty to consult and accommodate the Métis people. These duties flow from the honour of the Crown and Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and cannot be willfully ignored.

President Chartrand added, "Less than six months ago in the MMF Land Claim case, the Supreme Court of Canada told the Federal Government to uphold its constitutional promise to the Manitoba Métis, even after 150 years of neglect. The Manitoba Government has not taken this direction to heart. Instead, it ignores the Constitution and its obligations owing to the Manitoba Métis Community."

"Over the last few decades, the Métis have repeatedly had no choice but to turn to the courts to seek justice to address our harvesting rights (R. v. Goodon) and our land claims (MMF v. Canada). It is unfortunate that we may be forced into the courts again, but we will not accept Manitoba's complete disregard of our rights and interests as it pushes forward on its agenda for Manitoba Hydro."

Pursuant to Manitoba's Environment Act, the first stage in the appeal of a license is back to the Minister of MCWS who granted the license, however, the MMF has indicated to government that it intends to challenge the license in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench if its rights, interests and concerns are not meaningfully addressed.

Believe in Yourself; Believe in Metis.

The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the official democratic and self-governing political representative for the Metis Nation's Manitoba Metis Community.

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