By: Chris Pimentel
While an overwhelming number of Six Nations community members voted no to participating in Ontario’s Hydro one shares program, the Six Nations band council may still go ahead with the investment.
Survey results, both hard copies, and online numbers were presented to the council’s Committee of the Whole Monday with a total of 193 voting in favour of the deal, but 350 voting no to the deal.
“The purpose of this survey was to get community members involved and provide feedback if Six Nations should buy Hydro One shares,” said Victoria Racette Communications Officer for SNEC.
She told the council a hard copy of the survey was sent out to homes on Six Nations that receive direct mail and they had the option to vote online.
Racette said the total number of hard copies that came back were 141 yes and three no. In online surveys, they had 52 yes and 347 no.
Racette claimed one community member encouraged people to vote no on the online survey.
“On September 18th which was the last day for the survey a community member made a post encouraging members, including non-community members to vote no on the survey,” said Racette.
Racette said after that post there was an increasing number of votes from 3 P.M. to midnight resulting in 26 votes for yes and 289 for no.
Councillor Carl Hill questioned, “how would you know that non-community members voted?”
Elected Chief Ava Hill admitted that they don’t know.
Racette said, “at this time all we can do is put a disclosure that this survey is for community members only, but we can go to land and membership for status numbers or something like that.”
Councillor Carl Hill said Council should discard the survey all together.
“As far as I’m concerned just on that report the numbers aren’t true,” said Councillor Hill.
Councillor Helen Miller asked, “why didn’t they ask for people to sign it?”
Racette said that part of the appeal of the survey was for it to be anonymous.
She added the social media post by the community member had misinformation.
It claimed that Six Nation participation will cause environmental derogation, that Six Nations will be forced to share the money equally with other First Nations, and that only the Elected Chief has been privy to the information.
Racette said the Elected Council attempted to correct that information.
The following according to Racette will be put in the report; “As share holders of the company it does not affect the duty to consult or accommodate, each nation will have the right to the distribution of wealth, and that will be calculated using the Ontario First Nation Limited Partnership Formula which is based on the population of the First Nation, and finally, the Chief and Councillors have been privy to the information.”
During a recent District One, Two and Three meeting in September Amy Lickers, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Chiefs of Ontario, provided information on the structure of the deal.
She said if an agreement is reached by the end of the year, there will be a board of directors that will oversee the ownership structure but the document reads only members of Provincial Tribal Organizations (PTO) will sit on the First Nation Partners board. Six Nations is not a part of a PTO.
During that district meeting Councillor Terry General admitted that he had not seen the agreement.
“I’d like to see everyone take a look at it and see if they can find something wrong with it. I haven’t seen it yet or anything. That’s what this is all about let’s get everyone together and see if there’s something wrong with it.” said Councillor General back in September.
A community member asked if the agreement would be made public.
District 2 councillor Carl Hill said at the September meeting it would have to be discussed at General Council. It has not been addressed in an open session. Lickers added it was a Chiefs Committee recommendation that the agreement not be shared with the broader public
Racette said the total was 193 yes, and 350 no when taking into account the influx on September 18th. Without the influx, she sid the numbers would read 167 yes and 61 no.
“Based on the information that was given prior to September 18th the community does want to see Six Nations buy after the influx the community does not,” said Racette.
Elected Chief Hill moved to accept the survey as information before Councillors Bob Johnson and Helen Miller interrupted her.
Councillor Helen Miller had an issue with the survey.
“The issue I had was that we can’t prove that the number of surveys were based on the Facebook post. We don’t know that,” said Councillor Miller.
Racette agreed with Miller.
“We are basing it off of the timing and influx of answers, but yes there’s no way to prove it” said Racette.
Councillor Johnson wanted to receive it as information rather than accepting it.
“The reported intervention is alarming; it is how it is, I move that we receive as information rather than accepting. There’s a big difference,” said Councillor Johnson.
Council voted to receive the information with no one opposed. Councillors C.W. Martin, Dave Hill, and Mark Hill were not in attendance.
The proposed deal is to buy 14.875 million Hydro One shares (2.5%) with the purchase price for each share at $18.00, with the total cost of $268 million. The funds are coming from a loan from the provincial government. The loan term is for 25 years.
If 100% of the First Nations participate in the agreement, there is an immediate value of $89 million because of shares currently trading at approximately $22.00 per share. The dividends that are made from the stocks will go back into paying the loan.
The deal must be agreed to by at least 80% of First Nations in Ontario by December 31st or else it is extinguished.
Council is expected to discuss and approve or disapprove involvement with the hydro shares proposal at its next council meeting.
By: Chris Pimentel