Urges Energy Board to uphold Ontario policies on Métis inclusion

THUNDER BAY (May 2, 2013) — Today, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski testified before the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) in the ongoing designation process to select a transmitter to develop the East West Tie (EWT) Transmission Project in northern Ontario.

President Lipinski was joined by the Presidents of the MNO Thunder Bay Métis Council, the MNO Superior North Shore Métis Council and the MNO Greenstone Métis Council – Jean Carmirand, Trent Desaulnier and William Gordon. As well, Cam Burgess, the elected MNO Regional Councillor and Ken Simard, the Captain of the Hunt, attended to show support.

The EWT project is a proposed double circuit transmission line that would span from Thunder Bay to Wawa. This designation process is the first-of-its-kind in Ontario and is undertaken pursuant to the OEB’s new mandate under the Green Energy and Economy Act. The project will cross the traditional territory of the Métis community, and the MNO has obtained intervener status in the designation hearing.

MNO President Lipinski testified about the positive and collaborative work that has been undertaken between the Ontario Government and the MNO in order to advance the aboriginal partnership and participation commitments in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) over the last several years. President Lipinski urged the OEB to designate a transmitter that would ensure Ontario’s policy commitments made to all aboriginal communities – First Nations and Métis – will be advanced.

“This Board cannot be passive or indifferent in relation to these policies. It must embrace and fulfill its important role in the same way the Minister of Energy, the Ontario Power Authority and the Ontario Government has with respect to advancing aboriginal partnerships,” testified Lipinski.

President Lipinski added, “The Board must get it “right” in this designation, by ensuring the commitments of the LTEP are fulfilled. If not, a negative and dangerous precedent will be set. These policies, if ignored, will become “empty promises” for the Métis as well as other aboriginal communities. This will breed disillusionment, mistrust and delays with respect to new transmission.”

At the hearing, President Lipinski expressed concerns about some prospective transmitters that completely excluded the potential of Métis partnership. The MNO also highlighted the positive model put forth by some proposed transmitters who have committed to set aside up to 49 per cent equity ownership for Aboriginal communities, inclusive, of both First Nations and Métis.

President Lipinski concluded, “We need to recognize that no matter what happens, First Nations, Métis communities and other communities need to work together. We need this project and a designated transmitter that brings us closer together – not further apart. For the Métis community, we want this project to ultimately be a symbol of the results that come from the respectful and collaborative Ontario Government policies that have been developed to encourage aboriginal participation in the new green energy economy.”

Click here to view a copy of President Lipinski’s remarks.

For more information on the EWT project and the designation process visit: www.ontarioenergyboard.ca.