Manitoba

Metis Federation claims vendetta behind Pallister's decision to pull self-governance funding

David Chartrand is calling the premier of Manitoba vindictive for cancelling a third funding agreement with Manitoba Metis Federation.

Province says significant momentum, funding already exists to support Métis self-governance

Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand says the withdrawal of $290,000 in provincial money for the MMF is retaliation for his stance on the mass resignation of Manitoba Hydro board members last year. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

David Chartrand says the premier of Manitoba is being "vindictive" in cancelling a third funding agreement with the Manitoba Metis Federation in the space of just over a year.

The MMF president alleges Brian Pallister is yanking $290,000 in annual provincial money for the federation because Chartrand disputed the premier's explanation for the resignation of most of Manitoba Hydro's board last year.

Pallister maintains nine members of the 10-member board quit because the province didn't want to pay the MMF $67.5 million for its support of future Hydro development. Chartrand said it was because the board couldn't get a meeting with Pallister.

The Metis federation president says the premier is now exacting revenge.

'Vindictive, malicious attack'

"Instead of saying, 'Look, it is my fault they resigned,' he grabbed the MMF file and said 'here is the reason they resigned,'" Chartrand said Friday.

"Ever since then, our funding has been being cut left and right."

The province revealed in an April 11 letter to the MMF that it intended to withdraw from a tripartite agreement that provided financial support for Métis self-government, the federation said in a Thursday news release.

The agreement, called the Manitoba Metis Federation-Tripartite Self Government Negotiation (MMF-TSN), has been in place since 1987. Under it, the province provided $290,000 in funding for self-governance initiatives to the MMF each year.

The government said in its letter that "significant momentum and funding now exists to further Métis self-government."

"The overall mandate of the MMF-TSN process has been fulfilled. As a result, Manitoba will no longer be funding MMF-TSN."

This is a clear insult to all Manitobans, not just to Métis people, by attacking the people that actually founded this province.- MMF  President David Chartrand  

The province concluded the letter by saying it hopes to meet with the MMF regularly to discuss how the two parties can work together.

The two have been at odds, however, since March 2018, when Pallister said his government wouldn't give the MMF "persuasion money" to get its endorsement for hydroelectricity projects and cancelled the $67.5-million payment.

The matter remains before the courts.

Months later, the province scrapped the $20-million Turning the Page agreement between the MMF, Manitoba Hydro and the province. The federation plans to sue the government as a result.

The terminated contracts are a "vindictive, malicious attack on us" by the Pallister government, Chartrand alleged Friday, and he expects the core funding of $268,000 the federation receives annually from the province could be cut next.

Since the federal government agreed to match Manitoba's self-governance funding, Chartrand said that Ottawa's contribution is also at risk.

"This is a clear insult to all Manitobans, not just to Métis people, by attacking the people that actually founded this province," he said. 

If the province really wanted to support Métis people, he said, it wouldn't force him to defend their right to self-government through the court system.

The termination of the agreement would lead to the loss of five to 10 jobs, Chartrand said, but he expects to find other positions for the people currently in those positions.

More legal challenges to come

He suggested the MMF may file additional legal challenges against the government, saying the province has moved ahead with the Lake St. Martin outlet channel and a silica sand mine near Hollow Water First Nation without proper consultation. 

In an email dated April 25, Denise Thomas, the MMF's minister of tripartite self-government negotiations, said it is sad that the Manitoba government can decide unilaterally that Métis self-government has been "fulfilled."

"Let me assure you: your government will not be here forever," the letter reads. "As for the Metis Nation, we were here before you and we will be here long after you are gone."

Manitoba Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke was unavailable to comment on Friday.

In a statement, a spokesperson said the government is pleased that provincial funding helped create Métis institutions, programs and services, while influencing public policy.

The MMF's 2018 audited financial statement states it received nearly $2 million in revenue from the province last year.

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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