The Federal Court has ruled the federal government did not conduct sufficient consultation with Peguis First Nation prior to the construction of the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project.
The project was geared to make the export of power to the U.S. easier. The $490 million project has been completed and has been in operation since June 2020.
“There is no indication in the (Crown Consultation and Accommodation Report) that Canada actually met with Peguis to discuss their outstanding concerns,” said Justice Glennys McVeigh in her Sept. 24 ruling.
As the line is already up and running, the judge was not willing to shut it down or revoke Hydro’s license to export energy, as it was the federal government that was at fault. She said the best remedy she could exercise was a declaration of the facts, that “Canada did not adequately discharge its duty to consult.”
She further said she hopes Canada will complete further consultation with Peguis and determine if any accommodation is necessary.
Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson said in a press release that their approach to consultation was tough but respectful and reasonable.
“For our members, our administration diligently engages with all levels of governments regarding all projects within our territory,” he said. Those responsible to consult with Peguis should know our approach will always be the same.”
The case was, however, dismissed against other applicants, including Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Long Plains First Nation and Chief Jim Major of Animakee Wa Zhing Fist Nation. McVeigh ruled in those cases the federal government had fulfilled its consultative requirements.
Both Manitoba Hydro and Crown Services said they were reviewing the ruling.
Engagement on an international transmission line to the border began in 2013 with different stakeholders and parties and it received regulatory approval from the National Energy Board of Canada in August of 2019.
The 500 kilovolt line runs from Hydro’s Dorsey Converter Station to the Canada-U.S. border between Manitoba and Minnesota where it connects with the Great Northern Transmission Line.
Jeremy McKay, co-counsel for Peguis in the court proceeding, said the ruling underscores the lack of and the need for the consultation process.
“The concerns that Peguis has are numerous and significant,” he said. “I think what Peguis wanted, and was denied an opportunity, was to express those concerns to Canada in a meaningful way, through a meaningful process of consultation.”
The federal government did not respond to a request for comment prior to deadline.