The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Name:
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, September 25, 2017

What's his story? The silent witness in the Wab Kinew abuse charges scandal.


There's an important witness that we haven't heard from in the furor over whether NDP leader Wab Kinew roughed up  his girlfriend  so badly that she could hardly walk back when he was attending university.

His name is Wab Kinew.

His ex-girlfriend has given reporters her story of what happened one night in 2003 culminating in being hurled across their apartment with such force that she landed on her hands and knees and suffered painful rugburn. She fled their home in fear the next day, she said.

He's missed no opportunity to say that that never happened, leaving Manitobans with the only conclusion --- he's saying she is lying.  Lying today and lying when she pressed charges (which were laid by the RCMP and eventually stayed the following year by the Crown).

But Kinew has never given his account of what did happen. And Winnipeg's 'professional journalists'  haven't asked for his version of that night.  There's no excuse for this oversight. Getting both sides of a story is a basic tenet of journalism.

Did Kinew leave a clue to his behavior  in his memoir The Reason You Walk?

"I developed a mean streak. After a few beers I would shift from cracking jokes and having a good time to trying to mess with people. I would get in someone's face and insult them until they either backed down or fought me.  Either way, the goal was the same --- feed my ego." (Page 69-70)

*********************
Has anyone noticed the irony of having the New Democratic Party led by an almost-one-percenter?

Wab Kinew released his tax information just before the leadership vote, showing he earned $205,000 in 2016.   The cutoff to be a one-percenter,--- the top income earners in the country---is $225,000.   

Kinew was $20,000 short, but he's still a two-percenter, at least.
And Kinew may be a good socialist, but that doesn't mean he can't use tax "loopholes" to pad his own pocket.

He made $81,900 in book royalties, but used a tax dodge of having the money paid into a corporation which then paid him the money as dividends.  

As dividends, half the money is not taxable.
Not bad, eh. More than $40,000 tax-free.  

Good socialists believe in income sharing---yours, not theirs.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Contradictions in NDP leader Wab Kinew's tale; Winnipeg's iconic newsman says Congrats



Delegates to the Manitoba NDP's leadership convention dispersed this past weekend with two  images in their mindseye:

* their new leader dragging a woman down a hallway by her hair, and

* their new leader throwing a young woman across a room so roughly that she suffers physical injury

Neither image is palatable to NDP members, so over the past few days they've cobbled together a new narrative to reconcile their new leader, Wab Kinew, with the fact that one of his old girlfriends had him charged with domestic abuse.

He's changed, they chorus. They're quick to say they believe the girlfriend's story of being roughed up by Kinew---"believe the woman' is now a basic tenet of the NDP--- but...  But he's changed.  He's now a model of how a man with a troubled past can re-invent himself as a decent, honourable husband, father, and political leader, say his supporters.

But...

Yes, there's a 'but' from critics of Kinew and his blind endorsers.

Wab Kinew says the abuse didn't happen.  The charges were investigated and dropped, he'll tell you.  He doesn't want you to 'believe the woman.' She's a liar, is his position. 

Think about what he's saying.  

If his ex-girlfriend is lying about the abuse now, she was lying about it when she spoke to RCMP 14 years ago.  And making a false statement to police is a crime.  She should have been charged and sent to jail, not him, is the only conclusion.  Kinew has managed to turn himself into the victim, the golden status in the NDP. He's the victim of the awful lying woman, is his position.

Kinew's supporters, especially the "strong NDP women" like fellow MLA Nahanni Fontaine, who believe the woman are put in the position of saying that it's he who is the liar.  But by allowing him to denigrate his ex, they are abetting him.

And he's doing it NOW. Not 14 years ago.   

The argument that it happened so long ago it's time to let it go doesn't hold.  Kinew is challenging her credibility NOW and doing it with the cloak of leader of the Manitoba NDP.

He hasn't changed because he says there's nothing to change from.  He didn't do it, is his bedrock position.  Change what? Change why? 

Note that none of the "professional journalists" who have spoken with Kinew after his leadership victory asked him for his account of what happened the night of the alleged domestic abuse.

That's just as well for him because he's shown a selective memory of his past transgressions.

In the past few days the audio recording of a sentencing hearing for Kinew in 2004 surfaced. The transcript contained a completely different account of an assault on a cab driver than the account Kinew related in his best-selling memoir "The Reason You Walk."

Now, here we come to the defence of Wab, minor as it is. His account and the court account can be seen as two halves of the same story and they're not mutually exclusive.  But what he left out of his half is instructive.

Kinew admitted he was drunk and tried to skip out on the taxi fare when a cabbie grabbed him and they exchanged punches before police arrived and arrested the future leader of the NDP.

In court, however, the story told the judge was different. 

 Wab, drunk, had been berating the driver with racist comments during the ride.  When the cab stopped, Kinew got out, went to the driver and suckerpunched him through his open window.  When the drive got out of the car, Kinew knocked him to the ground and started kicking him when he was down. 

Two more unpalatable images for the NDP faithful---a racist Wab Kinew kicking a downed man.

Kinew never apologized for his cowardly kicks, nor for his racist comments--in his book or in person.

Kinew's book may contain some clues as to who is telling the truth about the night of alleged abuse that led to the charges against him.

After his girlfriend left him and got him charged, he found another. They had a baby but "after the baby arrived things soured between us."  They "muddled through for more than a year", he wrote, until she left him "after one of our arguments".  

He quickly found a new girl, and even after reconciling with the mother of his son, he "did not stop seeing the other woman."

Eventually,  one child later, they (the girlfriend, not the 'other woman') broke up for good. Another argument. On Christmas Day. "I knew there would be more arguing and fighting in front of my sons if we tried to reconcile again."

He took up with another, enjoyed her company, until  "(I)t came to an end. Perhaps I was too quick to anger."  Oh?  She, too,  broke up with him. (Though they eventually got together again---"I told her about the ways I had changed"and they got married.)

Three women, each of whom left him at some point.  Two of these relationships began and ended after he says he stopped drinking and was attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.

 Arguments. Anger. Abuse?

In his memoir Kinew says his troubled Twenties were a reflection of his oversized ego. But, of course, he says, 'he's changed'.

Oh?

In the last mayoral election candidate Gord Steeves was attacked for a post on Facebook by his wife who said she was reluctant to go downtown because of "drunken Indians"---(like the 21 year old Wab Kinew?)  At the time, Kinew had not yet apologized for misogynystic and homophobic rap lyrics (as he hadn't enterered politics), but we still didn't know about his racist taunts and charges of domestic abuse. 

Kinew,  on his high horse, sneered at Steeves and tweeted:

Wab Kinew ‏@WabKinew 22m 
Tweet me when Gord Steeves does the right thing and drops out of the race.
The difference between them, he sniffed, was that his errors were in the past and he had apologized for them, but Steeves' apology was too recent to be believed.
Well, it turns out that Kinew's secrets are still trickling out slowly and even after 14 years he's refusing to apologize. 

Perhaps he can swallow his ego long enough to apologize to Gord Steeves.
*************************
Exactly one week ago nobody was interested in what the woman who laid charges of domestic abuse against Wab Kinew had to say. Now that's all everybody's talking about when his name comes up.
It only happened because The Black Rod asked the question "why are all the professional journalists in town ignoring her?"  One reader thought we asked the right question of the right people. Maybe you've heard of him..,
Members of The Black Rod:

          Congratulations on your outing of several
incidents in the life of new NDP leader Wab Kinew,
which were subtly "missed" by professional
journalists until you forced them to do some
more legwork.

Peter Warren Investigative Journalism
(PWIJ Inc.),
Please see our webpage: www.peterwarren.ca
Telephone: (250) 380-PWIJ (7945)
Specialty: Cold-Case Murders
and/or Wrongful Convictions

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Wab Kinew's accuser finally gets to speak. Will NDP delegates hear...



Shamed by The Black Rod, Winnipeg's professional "journalists" finally decided there was something to report about an assault charge Manitoba NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew didn't mention in his memoir.

These "professionals" sat on their hands for almost three weeks after the revelation that Kinew had been hiding the existence of domestic abuse charges from 2003. Kinew said the charges were dropped because they were false, so the press stopped digging.

Only after The Black Rod questioned why the woman's voice wasn't being heard did the professional journalists stir themselves. Within a day, Steve Lambert of Canadian Press had located the complainant and her story was picked up by the rest of the news herd. And what a story it turned out to be!

“I went to the police because he assaulted me; physically injured (me)." she told Lambert.

Tara Hart is her name. And she isn't backing down an inch on her claim of being assaulted by Kinew. 

She says she lived with him for a year when one day in May, 2003, they got into an argument and he flung her across the room. She landed on her knees so hard she suffered rug burn. She was so scared of him that she packed a single bag and fled the home as soon as she could.  She called the RCMP and he was charged.

He called her three weeks ago when the secret of the domestic abuse charges against him began circulating in Winnipeg to tell her she might be getting calls from reporters. But when he insisted nothing happened between them that night, she hung up on him.

For his part, Kinew declares that Tara Hart is lying. The matter was investigated and the charges were dropped, he says disingenuously.

As we reported, the RCMP did investigate the complaint---and then laid the charges.  Hart says she only made one complaint, but there were two charges. That suggests something she told police in May about an incident in April supported a second charge.  

The details of that incident are still unknown, with Wab Kinew keeping mum and the press asleep.
 
His supporters are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to dismiss Hart's story without joining Wab in actually calling her a liar.

NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, the uber-feminist who once denounced a women's shelter for taking money from a fundraiser at a burlesque show, now gladly defends a man accused of assaulting an indigenous woman.  

While she believes the woman, she told CBC, Fontaine is willing to throw her under the bus if it means Kinew will win the NDP leadership, women's solidarity be damned. 

University of Manitoba law professor Karen Busby implied in an interview with CBC (where Wab Kinew was employed, a fact they no longer mention) that maybe there were "inconsistencies" with the complaint against him. That and a reluctance to testify by the complainant are the only two reasons why a charge would be stayed, she said.

Wrong.  As we pointed out in The Black Rod, the guidelines for prosecutors on domestic abuse charges back then were to proceed with trial unless the complainant admitted she lied or refused to go to court. Tara Hart reaffirms that she was assaulted, but says she didn't want to go to court then and wishes the matter would go away now. That's why the charges were stayed.

The legal charges expired 13 years ago, but the matter is now before a jury of public opinion.

Who to believe?

"I've been very open and honest that I was in a  difficult period in my life, when I was in my early 20's" he told a Winnipeg Free Press reporter. "the person who is running to lead the NDP ... is the person that I am today, it's not the man that I was when I was 20 or 21 years old."
 
In his memoir, Kinew says he graduated from the University of Winnipeg in May, 2003, the time of the alleged assault.  He admits that around that time he began a period of behaviour that got him into trouble with the law repeatedly.  Fights, car chases, cashing another man's money order and stealing the money, drunk driving.  He's smartened up, he says, and quit drinking.

But you know what they say about alcohol.  It doesn't make you an asshole; it just magnifies the asshole already in you.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why won't the NDP listen to the woman who accused Wab Kinew of domestic abuse?




Not so fast, Wabanakwut.

Two and a half weeks ago some skeletons that NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew had hidden away at the bottom of his closet lurched back to life.   

It scared the hell out of him. But not as scared as he's going to be.

Kinew had built a political career out of being the holier-than-thou candidate in the holier-than-thou Party. He turned his criminal record of drunk driving and assaults in his Twenties into an asset by claiming that he had seen the light, had reformed, and was now, in his Thirties, a paragon of virtue starting with taking ownership and responsibility for all his transgressions.

Look, he said, how transparent I am with my past faults. How can you doubt my sincerity?

But Kinew had to do some fancy tapdancing in late August when it was revealed that he hadn't been completely honest about his run-ins with the law. It turned out that he had concealed a pair of  arrests for domestic violence.

Violence against women, especially aboriginal women, is the third rail of the NDP. Touch it and instant political death. Just ask Maples MLA Mohinder Saran who was turfed from the already pathetically small NDP caucus on mere allegations of sexual harassment.

But the NDP caucus, and the mainstream media, gave Wab a pass on his own history of actual criminal charges of domestic assault. 

In fact, former NDP justice minister Gord Mackintosh said the revelation of the charges might actually be helpful for Kinew among party members in his run for leadership of the party. 

"It remains to be seen whether Steve’s hit on Wab strengthens support for Wab — some in the party were offended by that," he said in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Kinew, himself, went on the attack. There were no apologies this time.

"There was no substance to the allegations. It was investigated. It was dropped," he said.
Or, as a rapper would say, 'she lied, the bitch; makes my trigger finger itch.'
Here's where the story gets interesting.


Three years ago, Wab Kinew was the guest host on CBC-radio's national morning show Q. It was shortly after the regular host, Jian Ghomeshi, had been fired. Ghomeshi was eventually charged with multiple counts of sexual assault. (He was acquitted of all charges.)
Kinew opened the show with an essay titled: There's no acceptable level of violence against women.

He was, of course, being holier-than-thou, as usual. But we got to thinking---shouldn't he be held to his own standards?
We went back to those charges of domestic assault against Wabanakwut Kinew.

The first thing that struck us was that there were two charges. Not two charges stemming from the same incident.  But two charges, one month apart
So the unnamed woman in question called police on Wab in April, 2003, saw him released, probably on his own recognizance, then called police on him again in May.

And the second time was for a second complaint of assault. It was not for a breach of recognizance as would be the case if he came to her house when the court required him to stay away. Two separate assaults on two calendar months.
We found the Manitoba Department of Justice guidelines for Crown attorneys regarding domestic violence that were in effect when the charges were laid.
It was the time of "zero tolerance."

"The Attorney General's policy regarding domestic violence is straightforward: there is  zero tolerance. This means the discretion conferred on those responsible for enforcing the criminal law ought, at each stage of the proceedings, to be exercised in favour of sanctions where a lawful basis to proceed exists. In practical terms, this requires that where there is evidence to support charges, they will be laid. Where there is evidence 
to support conviction, the case will proceed to trial as soon as possible." read the policy directive.
"...Domestic assault, for the purposes of this policy, is defined as physical or sexual assault or the threat of physical or sexual assault of a victim by a person with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship, whether or not they are legally married or living together at the time of the assault or threat."

"...Where a victim of domestic abuse seeks help, police agencies throughout the province are expected by the Attorney General to respond appropriately by treating the situation as a crime and not simply as a "family dispute."



"...Police officers may, and under this policy will be expected to, lay criminal charges where there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence under the Criminal Code or any other law has been committed. That is not to say that charges should be laid automatically, whether or not there is evidence to support criminal proceedings: the 
Criminal Code requires that, before laying charges, a peace officer must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds, based on the available evidence, to do so. Where such grounds do exist, however, charges should be laid. "

This appears to be in direct contradiction of Kinew's statement

 "There was no substance to the allegations. It was investigated. It was dropped."


It appears the police did investigate and did determine that based on the evidence there was reason to believe a crime was committed.

To say the charges were dropped is problematic. 

The charges were stayed, which, in laymen's terms, means the prosecution of the matter was suspended for a year and then abandoned.  The intent was to keep Kinew on a short leash for a year to guarantee that he kept the peace, probably because of a second charge being laid so soon after the first. The government guidelines stated "proceedings should not be terminated unless it is clear that there is no longer sufficient evidence to support charges".


This was followed by a lengthy discourse on when charges should be stayed which boiled down to:
-  whenever the complainant wouldn't testify (and even then only if there were no other witnesses or physical evidence), 

-  couldn't be found, or 

-  admitted she lied to police.

Which was the case in Queen v. Kinew?


********

Wab says he doesn't want to discuss the matter any more to protect the privacy of the complainant.

Okay, we don't need the name of the woman. 

But we do need the details.

The NDP is in the position of possibly electing an alleged woman-beater as the leader of their party.  The delegates need more information on his secret past.

Two things need to happen immediately:

A) Wab Kinew must reveal the circumstances of the charges against him.  

The court charges come with what's known as an "information" which contains detailed allegations of who did what to whom which precipitated the laying of the charge.  

Did both charges involve verbal assault (shouts, threats) or physical assaults (pushing, grabbing)? Or was it more (black eyes, bruising)?  Remember that at the time  the domestic assault charges were laid, Kinew, by his own autobiographical account, was a mean drunk who was quick with his fists.

B) The New Democratic Party must get a signed statement from the complainant in which she either admits she lied to police about the assaults as Kinew says she did, or she stands by her complaints against him. The Party should have no preference to what she says.

But hearing from the woman is vital in the court of public opinion. 

He's called her a liar. Why shouldn't her voice be heard as loud as his?

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.


Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed.

Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet.

Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial.

The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba.

It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak. 

Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---which it could not afford.

Bipole III, the outrageously expensive power line ($5 billion and counting) that was built to bring electricity from the new dams south to customers in the United States, will be hooked up and operating in July, 2018. That's when Manitoba Hydro is supposed to start paying back the money it borrowed to build the line and the accumulated interest.

The problem is that Hydro doesn't have the money to pay for Bipole III !

We'll repeat that slowly in case you still don't understand:

Manitoba Hydro
doesn't have
the money
to pay
for
Bipole III.

Three years later, in 2021,  the even more expensive Keeyask dam ($8.7 billion and counting) will go into service.  You guessed it...

Manitoba Hydro
doesn't have
the money
to pay
for
Keeyask

either.

How much money are we talking about?

* Hydro CEO Kelvin Shepherd told CJOB just this month that the utility needed $300 million a year to pay for Bipole III.  
* The PUB stated back in 2012 that when Keeyask came into service it would create additional annual costs for Manitoba Hydro of $500 million.  
* As you will soon see, shortfalls of $100 million here and $100 million there are inevitable.
* Which means that within four years, Hydro will need at least one billion dollars more each year to keep operating.

And the only dependable source for that money, they told the PUB three weeks ago, is Manitoba ratepayers. In other words --- YOU.

The utility needs a rate increase of 15-20 percent just to cover Bipole. The bill for the Keeyask generating station will be almost double, meaning that Hydro would need another rate hike, of 30 percent or more, which they want to apply in annual increments rather than all at once.

 But it still means your hydro bill with go up more than 50 percent, and likely much more, within four years.

Hydro told the PUB that it would already be in a financial crisis if it wasn't for two factors--low interest rates and high water.  

"To date, a financial crisis for Manitoba Hydro has -- coupled with rate shock for its customers, has been deferred due to two (2) factors, and those two (2)factors are entirely outside of Manitoba Hydro and this Board's control," said Hydro lawyer Patti Ramage.
 
Interest rates are the lowest they've been in 80 years. That's right, not since the mid nineteen-thirties.  But rates have started up. The federal bank rate was raised a quarter point in July and another rise is expected in the fall. The effect on Hydro will be devastating. Said Ramage:

"The project's (Bipole III) mostly complete.Regardless of accounting conventions, Manitoba Hydro is today borrowing cash for interest annually on the debt being borrowed to build the project. It's a huge number. We're talking 150 million, 175 million."
 
"...to make clear the fundamental reality of Manitoba Hydro's current financial situation. That reality is that we are borrowing money to fund our core Basic operations. That is an unsustainable practice...".
 
.".. interest expense will soon consume 70 odd percent of every domestic dollar. 70 percent of every domestic dollar is going to go to interest expense."
 
"It doesn't take much of an error on the interest rate forecast for that to move up to a hundred percent or more."
 
 "And we still have a business to run. We have to pay our operating costs, power purchases, water rentals, capital taxes, and by no means least of all, we have to replenish aging infrastructure."
 
And as for its impact on the capital projects...

"... Manitoba Hydro has $12 billion to borrow over the next five (5) years. Extremely modest increases in borrowing costs against plan can quickly reduce Manitoba Hydro's income by fifty (50) to even a hundred million dollars per year."
 
The PUB was told that Manitoba Hydro would have lost money this year and the two years previous if it wasn't for unusually high water levels. Ramage again:
 
"Manitoba Hydro will, in 2017, enjoy its fourteenth(14th) consecutive year of above-average water flows which is a wet period almost three (3) times the duration of the next largest period -- next longest period in well over a century of recorded history."
 
"... by any measure, Manitoba Hydro is in a cash deficit position. Without the benefit of high water, this deficit is in the order of 250 to $300 million per year, meaning rates today are 15 to 20 percent too low if Manitoba Hydro's ratepayers are held to be responsible for the cost of its -- of operating the system."
 
"So those two (2) factors... are what have been saving Manitoba Hydro, and those factors are not factors that we can count on to continue. "
 
Manitoba Hydro has known for years that it wasn't going to be able to pay for the massive expansion it had undertaken unless there was a miraculous return to the good ol' days when hydro power was in demand and even spot prices were sky high.
 
They gambled on that, until they ran out of time, money and luck.
 
Spot prices for electricity are now anywhere from 30 to 35 percent lower than forecast even two years ago. Hydro has written off $850 million in anticipated export revenue over the next ten years as a result.
 
Domestic revenue isn't any better. Growth in Manitoba has been so slow that Hydro predicted domestic revenue would be $900 million less over 10 years unless they got the huge rate increases they want.
 
Sales of power outside of Manitoba are so uncertain that Hydro has scrapped the premiums it used to charge for dependable "green" energy and "capacity values"
 
"...it is not prudent to assume as a planning tool that Manitoba Hydro is able to enter into new long-term export contracts, particularly into markets like MISO (the midwest energy exchange that links 15 American states plus Manitoba...ed) that are awash in energy." Hydro told the PUB.

Manitoba Hydro plans to save $500 million over the long-run by a new debt management strategy.

" Manitoba Hydro changed its debt management strategy to target a twelve (12) year term to maturity on new issuances instead of twenty (20) years."
 
"This is a strategy that only makes sense if there is an expectation of having income and cash -- income and the cash flow necessary to permanently retire shorter- term debt as it becomes due."
 
"We have to able to retire that debt when it becomes due or that strategy doesn't make sense. And that strategy is a $500 million saving, but it doesn't work if we don't have the cash at the end of the day to retire it. And that cash can only come from higher rates." said Patti Ramage.

Manitoba Hydro's submission to the Public Utilities Board included a recognition that its debt rating was in danger.  The province of Manitoba has had its credit rating cut twice within a year and now stands two ranks above junk bond status.  Hydro's debt rivals the provincial debt.

Two years ago Hydro defiantly defended its plan to keep borrowing money for expansion even if its debt-to-equity ratio dropped to 90-10, with the risk that a drought would devour even that last 10 percent of equity, leaving the utility insolvent.

But Hydro was much more contrite before the PUB in 2017, stressing how it needed the large rate hikes to plump up the debt-to-equity ratio and satisfy skeptical credit rating agencies. The goal now is to keep the debt-to-equity ratio at 75-25.

Or else.

But, but, but... if the Public Utilities Board knows all this, why did they grant a small (3.36 percent)  interim rate increase, and put off dealing with the big problem until December's hearing?

The answer lies in Hydro's opening gambit in the July hearing.

Hydro lawyers came in telling the PUB it had no choice but to grant Hydro's application for a 7.9 percent interim rate hike.

 No choice.

They even had a higher court ruling to back them up.  Citing that court decision they declared that the financial health of Manitoba Hydro had to be preserved at all costs. And that meant that other considerations, such as the impact of the rate hike on the poor, the elderly, and those unfortunate enough to use electricity to heat their homes, had to be overridden.

Hydro's message was unmistakeable: If a 50 percent jump in hydro rates was going to make the poor and elderly suffer, then that's their tough luck. 

The provincial utility is playing chicken with the provincial government.  Remember, they asked the province to bail them out with an infusion of money, and got a negative answer. 

So they're gambling now that Brian Pallister will be forced to rescue the unfortunates who can't afford the hikes Hydro plans.

The members of the PUB must see the brinksmanship at play. They decided to pass the buck to December and give the province time to decide what to do.

In the meantime, the writing is on the wall.

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin

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