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Pinning the Tail on the Donkey

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by Graham Lane

Published in the Winnipeg Sun, May 11, 2018

Wab Kinew is playing the child’s game ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. For Kinew and his weakened group of NDP big-government advocates, the ‘tail’ he wants to pin is Manitoba Hydro. Kinew’s candidate for the donkey is Brian Pallister’s government.

Kinew is right to have Hydro as the tail in the story, but he should share who deserves to be the donkey. Only the donkey’s hind-end should be assigned to the PCs, they appeared in the farmyard after the NDP embarked on a path that has done so much damage. The head and main body of the beast belongs to Kinew’s troubled, but barely breathing, NDP. Luckily for Wab, had Pallister honoured his election promise to halt Hydro’s expansion and hold a comprehensive review, the ‘tail’ to this donkey would be pinned 100% to the NDP for it’s foolish and incredibly expensive Hydro boondoggle.

Wab was not known as a member of any political party before Selinger’s Hydro and PST antics destroyed the NDP’s chance to hold on to power. Kinew’s latest fundraising letter to his party’s faithful is handicapped, perhaps innocently, in its ignorance of not knowing just how far the Doer-Selinger regimes drove Hydro into the ground.  Witness unneeded dams; a grossly over-budget office palace for Hydro executives; ignoring market changes; failing to secure profitable export sales before starting construction; forcing Bipole III to follow a circuitous over-lengthy route; and, awarding sole source contracts – many on a cost plus basis.

In four terms, sixteen years, the NDP managed to ruin Hydro’s finances and reputation. Gone is the Manitoba Advantage; gone are 900 jobs  – not needed in the first place; gone are two Presidents, three boards, and virtually all Hydro’s executive suite. Gone is an asset to entice new industry and hold existing plants. Calculated fairly, between the NDP and Pallister’s PC government, the overall value of Hydro is down $7 billion – enough for 30 Bomber stadiums, 50 Bell Place arenas, rapid bus in ‘every’ direction times 3, a massive income tax cut, a PST at 5% not 8% or 7%. You get the idea, we, Manitobans, have been skinned by incompetent governments.

Unfortunate for Kinew and his party, political parties are no longer funded by the taxpayers for every vote they get in an election. Thus, Pallister, from Kinew’s view, is a ‘villain’, robbing much of the NDP’s past revenue base. Kinew is left to try to sell his party’s obsolete platform and ideology to voters. Good luck!

Kinew’s recent plea included the outrageously comedic claim that only his party can “protect Manitoba Hydro from Pallister’s agenda of privatization” and  “protect Hydro affordability for all Manitobans”.

First thing, Hydro as it is with giant debts and stranded assets, has little financial value left, so don’t hold your breath waiting for someone to buy it. To the NDP deniers, yearning for the days of expensive corded government-owned telephones, most power companies in the U.S. and Europe are now investor owned.  Pallister, meanwhile, still lacks the policy chops to properly stop the bleeding.

Kinew’s party ruined Manitoba Hydro and Pallister didn’t help. His musings about taking a look at what and why is not enough. Let the chips fall with a comprehensive forensic inquiry.

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