Saturday, September 25, 2010

Manitoba Hydro’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words

It’s no secret. Strategic communication isn't one of Manitoba Hydro's greatest strengths.

Case in point:

On September 21, Manitoba Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider told the media, landowners, and the general public that he doesn’t believe expropriation will be necessary to complete the west-side construction of Bipole III. “We don’t expect to use it, period”, said Schneider of Hydro’s authority to take people’s land.

Meanwhile, only two months earlier, on July 14, Ken Tennenhouse, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Hydro, was busy initiating action to take peoples' land and submitting the required paperwork to the Winnipeg Land Titles Office for registration. Apparently, Letellier area landowners were reluctant to give up the land necessary to allow for the construction, installation, and connection of high voltage facilities (and other equipment) to Hydro’s Letellier Station.

So, Hydro initiated action to take their land.

Mr. Schneider, how can you expect media, politicians, and landowners on the west-side route to hear (and believe) your words when the very recent actions of your Corporate Secretary are bellowing in the background?

Expropriation - the taking of private land in the name of the public good - must always be an avenue of last resort in a democratic society. To paraphrase Michael Ignatieff, expropriate if necessary, but not necessarily expropriation.

Unfortunately, in this incredibly sensitive policy area, Manitoba Hydro’s communication is not only dreadful, it’s also becoming dangerous.