Manitoba Hydro parts ways with CEO Jay Grewal

Following the dismissal of now former Manitoba Hydro President Jay Grewal, provincial advocates hope the move signifies a step towards in repairing relationships with First Nation communities. Kurt Black reports.

Manitoba’s Conservative Party is criticizing the provincial government over the termination of Manitoba Hydro’s CEO.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, PC Shadow Minister for Manitoba Hydro Grant Jackson said Jay Grewal was removed “because she spoke honestly about the significant financial challenges that Hydro currently faces. A reality-check that directly conflicts with the NDP’s costly ideology.”

Jackson’s statement continued by saying, “Wab Kinew thinks he knows more about running the province’s largest Crown corporation than the talented, experienced former CEO, who was also the first woman to hold the position.”

Jackson and other PCs are calling on the NDP to not interfere with the hydro company, he added.

“It’s now evident that we have an NDP government that is directly interfering with the operations of Manitoba Hydro. This is deeply concerning for all Manitobans, who are paying 33 cents of every dollar on their Hydro bills to service interest on the crushing debt of the last NDP-directed Hydro boondoggles,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) says it commends the move by the province, saying there has been a “prolonged period of disconnection” between Manitoba Hydro and the AMC.

“The relationship between Manitoba Hydro and First Nations must be based on mutual respect, meaningful consultation, and collaboration. We look forward to finally re-establishing a working relationship that includes engaging constructively with Manitoba Hydro’s leadership to ensure that the concerns and priorities of First Nations are addressed effectively. This includes addressing First Nations energy poverty, bill affordability programs, and being actively involved in the selection process for the new CEO of Manitoba Hydro,” said Grand Chief Cathy Merrick in a statement.

The AMC says over the years, its members have tried to meet with Grewal to discuss matters involving Manitoba Hydro and local First Nations but were reportedly directed to other members of staff.

The assembly adds, during the pandemic, there was a “noticeable absence of reconciliation efforts.”

Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro simply said Grewal was departing the utility provider after five years as the CEO.

New leadership

Manitoba Hydro also announced on Tuesday Hal Turner, the utility’s current vice president of Asset Planning & Delivery, will act as interim president and CEO effective immediately.

Turner has been a member of Manitoba Hydro since 1995.

Board Chair Ben Graham said in a statement on behalf of Manitoba Hydro the company is facing decisions on how it can best handle the province’s energy needs, and one of the decisions by the board was new leadership in order to bring in fresh perspectives.

Graham added the board also recently conducted an internal leadership review, which included the leadership’s alignment on the board’s mandate on low-energy rates, collaboration with Indigenous communities, worker supports, economic development, and ensuring the utility remains public.

“One of the board’s most important responsibilities is to ensure we have the leadership in place to successfully guide Manitoba Hydro into the future and keep life affordable for Manitobans,” Graham said. “On behalf of the board, I want to thank Jay Grewal for her contribution to the utility. She helped steer Hydro through a global pandemic and other significant changes.”

Graham says Manitoba Hydro will be searching both internally and externally for a new president and CEO.

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