Elected Council begins discussions toward deal with Hydro shares

SIX NATIONS – Six Nations could be a part of a collective group of province-owned Hydro One shares by the end of 2017; no decisions were made to join the collective at last night’s elected general council meeting and it is unsure at this point how the deal may directly benefit Six Nations.

Grand Chief Gord Peters and First Nation Legal Council Sara Mainville came to the meeting on October 25 to discuss the soon-to-be-proposed deal which, at-a-glance, almost guarantees at least $97 million be given to and divided up among the First Nations communities of Ontario and has long term goals of more than $1 billion being earned throughout several years.

“The province is broadening the ownership of Hydro One Limited through a series of share offerings to the public,” said Peters, reading from a PowerPoint presentation. The Province has indicated that it will sell up to 60 per cent of it’s Hydro One shares and offer First Nations communities in Ontario the opportunity to purchase up to 15 million common shares of Hydro One.

To purchase almost 15 million shares at $18 per share, a loan of $268 million would be lent to the Ontario First Nations Sovereign Wealth Limited Partner (OFNSWLP), which is an entity composed of the Ontario First Nations Power Holdings Limited Partner and Ontario First Nations Capital Wealth Fund Limited Partner. OFNSWLP would be responsible for paying back the debt; the loan term is 25 years — no First Nations communities involved in the deal would be held responsible for repayment of the loan.

“The deal would be financed by the Province and a seed capital of up to $45 million for collective investment purposes and promoting wealth creation for First Nations would be distributed,” said Peters.

Mainville said that the seed capital of $45 million would only be distributed if the Chiefs of Ontario are able to bring all First Nations communities on board with the deal. If less than 100 per cent are on board, the seed capital is going to be less than $45 million; if less than 80 per cent of First Nations communities are on board — there is no deal being offered.

“That’s why we’re gong around now trying to bring up the discussion because we want to close the deal by December, 2017,” said Peters. “We know all communities will have a lot to discuss — I’ve been telling people who are ready to sign-up already to wait until an actual agreement has been put forward.”

Peters encouraged elected council to talk to the community and prepare themselves to discuss the agreement when it is finished and presented hopefully in June or July 2017.

One of the obligations, or ‘catch’ of the deal, is, before a First Nation community can sign up for the deal, it is mandatory that they agree to never initiate any court proceedings or take any other legal action against the Province’s long-term goal of the privatization of Hydro One. If 100 per cent of the First Nation communities join the deal, and one community enters legal action against the Province, an indemnity would be triggered in favour of the province against all communties.

“Basically it means that not even an injunction could be filed,” said Mainville.

Several elected councillors felt that this first meeting was an overload of information being thrown at them at once and that the obligations were a big red flag; by the end of the meeting, Peters’ and Mainville’s presentation was submitted as information only.

“We have the good part of year to discuss this and really flesh it out before any decisions need to be made,” said Elected Chief Ava Hill.

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