Leader of the Manitoba NDP Wab Kinew has raised a red flag after the Pallister government announced the appointment of a former B.C. Hydro senior executive who helped to privatize the crown corporation.
On Thursday the Pallister government appointed Jay Grewal as President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. Grewal has previously served as a senior executive at B.C Hydro. While there, Grewal worked with former B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to systematically break up B.C. Hydro and sell it off for privatization. She then became the Managing Director for the private firm Accenture to carry out Campbell’s privatization marching orders.
“The appointment of Ms. Grewal is yet another dangerous sign that the Pallister government is planning to privatize Manitoba Hydro,” said Kinew. “She worked with Gordon Campbell to privatize B.C. Hydro despite his promises to keep it public. Their actions led to huge payouts for corporate firms and higher bills for regular families. We can’t allow this to happen in Manitoba.”
A few weeks ago the Pallister government announced they would spend $2.5 million on an economic review into past and present Manitoba Hydro projects, including Keeyask and Bipole III, led by Gordon Campbell. This week, the Premier suddenly pulled out of an agreement with the Manitoba Metis Federation that leaves Manitoba Hydro open to millions of dollars in liabilities.
“In the last two years Pallister has set the stage for privatization by throwing Hydro into chaos and putting billion-dollar projects at risk. He ignored the former Board for so long they were forced to resign in protest,” said Kinew. “Now, the Premier has hired a privatization hit team to carry out his dirty work.”
The systematic privatization of B.C. Hydro followed the same formula as the privatization of Manitoba’s Telephone System in 1996. Former Conservative Premier Gary Filmon privatized the utility despite promising to keep it public. Under Filmon Manitobans saw their telephone bills increase by fourteen percent.
“The Premier is following in the footsteps of other Conservative premier who want to privatize our crown corporations. It will mean higher bills for families and massive payouts to rich executives,” said Kinew. “We refuse to allow this happen in Manitoba. We will stand up for a public Manitoba Hydro.”