WINNIPEG - The former board chairman at Manitoba Hydro is defending a proposed $67-million payment to the Manitoba Metis Federation.

Sanford Riley resigned along with eight other Crown corporation board members on Wednesday, saying Premier Brian Pallister has been unwilling to meet to discuss important issues.

Pallister says the government and board were at odds over Hydro's plan to give the Metis federation money for not opposing new projects, including a transmission line to Minnesota.

Riley says the proposal was unusual and that's why he wanted to discuss it with the government.

He says the deal is a good one, because recent court rulings have shown governments need to consult and accommodate Metis as well as First Nations on bid developments.

Riley says Manitoba needs a strong Hydro board and a premier willing to address significant issues.

Pallister says he opposed the deal partly because it would see the province essentially buying a group's acquiescence, which could set a precedent for other projects.