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Winnipeg Free Press: Letters
Sun, Apr 9, 2000

U.S. offers us taste of own medicine

SO, MY FELLOW Manitobans, how does it feel to have the governor of North Dakota come up here, hear our concerns, then say he's still going ahead with his Devils Lake water diversion project? How does it feel to have a politician from down south make a decision that could negatively affect your future and not be able to do anything about it? How does it feel to voice your concerns and try to generate sympathy among people who can make a difference and have them turn a cold shoulder to you? To put their own interests before yours and dismiss any considerations of alternatives?

Doesn't feel good, does it? Kind of frustrating. Now maybe we have an idea what natives up north go through whenever Manitoba Hydro decides to build a dam and displace whole communities. JAMIE HARDY

Compensation is being paid

I was rather taken aback at some of the claims made in the April 2 front-page article U.S. listens to band's grievances with Hydro so I did some digging of my own. Misinformation is being spread about Hydro. First it was claimed Manitoba Hydro has made "billions in profits." A quick check of Hydro's 1999 annual report shows that Manitoba Hydro has retained earnings, which are the sum total of all of Hydro profits since the beginning of time, of $665 million, much less than even $1 billion. Second, it was stated "Pimicikamak is the only first nation among the five to pursue its claim." Again, a check of Hydro's annual report shows that the other first nations have done a very good job of pursuing their claims to the point that Hydro has already paid out $396 million in claims and expects to pay out another $136 million. Far from not pursuing their claims, the other bands that signed the Northern Flood Agreement have already settled their claims for a total of $229 million. In fact, it looks like for every dollar Manitoba Hydro has ever made in profit, it paid out another 80 cents in compensation.

The article suggests the Pimicikamak (or Cross Lake) burial grounds and hunting area were destroyed by flooding. A review of Manitoba Hydro's Web site revealed that the primary effect of the development was to lower water levels on Cross Lake and in fact no flooding of Pimicikamak reserve land occurred. Flooding did occur on 35,000 acres of 3,600,000 acres in their traditional resource area, but flooding less than one per cent of the resource area and none of the reserve land hardly seems enough to destroy all of the burial sites and hunting in the area. Pimicikamak has already received $44 million in compensation for this flooding, and saw fit to reject a further offer of $110 million in compensation.

Pimicikamak had better be careful its lobbying campaign doesn't backfire. If it succeeds in its goal of blocking Hydro sales to the U.S., it will only cripple Hydro's ability to pay compensation and end up with much less in the long run.

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