As you may recall from Dispatch #61, Saving the Land That Gives Life, the World Heritage site that five Ojibway nations are trying to put together on the east side of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba was threatened by the campaign promise of Hugh McFadyen, the Progressive Conservative candidate for premier of Manitoba, to run Bipole III, the new transmission line that Manitoba Hydro wants to build to get the juice from the new dams it is building on the Nelson River to its consumers, down the east side of the lake instead of taking the slightly longer but less disruptive west side route. This would have ruined the pristine boreal integrity of Pimachiowin Aki, the proposed World Heritage site, and perhaps have resulted in the denial of its application. (It should be mentioned that even after a World Heritage site is designated, this does not mean that destructive development cannot happen there. In fact, Tanzania has revived its plan to run a highway through Serengeti National Park, right across the route of the epic wildebeest migration. Another battle to fight.)
But the 40th general election of Manitoba took place on October 4, 2011, and thank God the incumbent Greg Selinger, was reelected. Mr. Selinger is NDP, National Democratic Party, which is much greener than the Progressive Conservative Party, which is in power in Ottawa, and was in favor of the less environmentally damaging west-side route. So a big battle was avoided. Whew ! The outcome was not at all clear when I wrote my Dispatch.
I asked Gord Jones, the project manager of the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site, to find out what Mr. Selinger’s victory meant for the site’s chances of being approved. His reply was cautiously optimistic :
‘What a great relief to have the government returned and with a majority. Polls seemed to be calling for a tight race but in the end it wasn’t. The election was an interesting chess match to observe; the PCs seemed to be trying to move to the left but without success.
“We are working hard on the nomination package, hoping to have it completed in December to be shipped off to the World Heritage Committee in Paris in January . Then there will be an 18 month review process before the site actually makes its way to a WHC meeting, likely July 2013. We are optimistic that we have a good case but are not taking anything for granted.”
But at least Bipole III is no longer an issue. Way to go, Manitoba !