Hydro privatization an election ploy?
NDP, Liberals reject Tory promise to keep Hydro public
By Mychaylo Prystupa, CBC News
Posted: Aug 31, 2011 2:29 PM CT
Last Updated: Aug 31, 2011 2:26 PM CT
Political foes are squaring off on the privatization of Manitoba Hydro in the upcoming provincial election, even though no party has pledged to sell off the Crown corporation.
NDP Leader Greg Selinger told a room full of NDP candidates gathered at the University of Winnipeg Tuesday that Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen would sell the utility if elected.
"In 1995, they said they wouldn't privatize the telephone system," he said. "They got elected, and they privatized it within two years. We have to remember they say one thing before an election, and do another thing after."The Conservatives reject NDP charges that they will sell Manitoba Hydro. CBC
But McFadyen has repeatedly said that a Conservative government won't sell the Crown corporation.
"And I'll never sell Manitoba Hydro," he said in a PC ad.
Liberal leader Jon Gerrard also said he would never contemplate selling Hydro, and like the NDP, suggested the Tories would.
No evidence of Tory sales plan
CBC can no find public record, Hansard document, or quote suggesting McFadyen has ever been open to privatizing Hydro. Likewise, the NDP could not provide such evidence when asked to do so Tuesday.
However, McFadyen was ex-premier Gary Filmon's chief of staff and director of policy when the governing Conservatives privatized MTS in the 1990s.
Also, McFadyen's own published biography shows he provided "strategic council" to former Ontario premier Mike Harris, the Conservative who led a failed campaign to privatize Hydro One, the government-owned hydro transmission company in Ontario.
Former premier Gary Filmon (left) and Hugh McFadyen answer questions in 1996 about the privatization of the Manitoba telephone system. CBCThe PC party said McFadyen did advise the Ontario government when he worked for the consulting firm Navigator, but this does not amount to an admission that McFadyen has Hydro privatization leanings.
"We are not disputing biographical information, but the NDP are being desperate. It's 2011, and we're in Manitoba, not Ontario. We have been clear — a McFadyen government will protect Manitoba Hydro," said PC party communications director Greg Burch.
Pollster Christopher Adams, of Probe Research said the NDP can not link McFadyen directly with Hydro's privatization.
"I don't think they'll find a smoking gun, that is, something that McFadyen has said in the past."
He said the NDP's "keep hydro public" messaging is designed to keep voters from talking about the controversial BiPole III hydro transmission line that the NDP wants to build.
That western route will cost taxpayers more than $1 billion more than an alternative line down the east side of Lake Winnipeg that the PC party prefers.
"This attack by the NDP is to try to defuse the gains that the Conservatives will make on the issue of the BiPole."
However, McFadyen did tell reporters in 2006 that he was open to the private sector helping finance new hydro-electric dams.
"We would look at involving the private sector to finance hydro projects, much the way they do in B.C. and Ontario and other provinces," McFadyen told the Canadian Press on Nov.12, 2006.
That is not a novel idea in Manitoba. The NDP is using private investment from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in northern Manitoba to help fund the $1.3 billion Wuskwatim power dam.
Manitoba Election Results
Updated: Oct. 5, 2011, 9:08 AM EDT
|Party||Elected||Leading||Total||Vote Share (%)|
All results are unofficial until final ballot counts are verified by Elections Manitoba. CBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Latest Manitoba Votes 2011 Headlines
- Gerrard won't lead Manitoba Liberals in next election
- Jon Gerrard says he will step down as leader of Manitoba's Liberals by 2013, after his successor has been chosen. more »
- Candidates not rushing for PC leadership bid
- Progressive Conservative MLAs in Manitoba are about to head into a new session of the legislature, wondering who their next leader will be. more »
- Steeves not seeking former city seat
- Former Winnipeg city councillor Gord Steeves, who left council this year to launch an unsuccessful run for provincial politics, says he will not be vying for his old civic seat. more »
- Changes loom for parties after Manitoba election
- It's the day after the Manitoba election, and politicians are planning for changes. more »