The Northern Gateway Joint Review panel has rejected a request from Enbridge to limit non-aboriginal intervenors to 10 minutes before the panel.
Northern Gateway had asked that oral evidence during from non-Aboriginal intervnors be limited to “10 minutes of presentation time each, unless the intervenor is able to justify additional time.” Enbridge Northern Gateway argued in a letter filed earlier this week that such a schedule would still enable intervenors to provide oral evidence, and would allow the hearing in Prince Rupert to conclude on Friday.
Enbridge said that, in its opinion, the majority of oral evidence provided by non-Aboriginal participants during the community hearings to date has not met the criteria set out in a procedural ruling released by the panel on January 4. Enbridge argued, correctly, that many of the submissions have included argument or have addressed matters that are properly written evidence.
The panel rejected Enbridge’s motion, saying
The Panel has addressed proper oral evidence in Procedural Direction #4 and will continue to deal with the appropriateness of oral evidence on a case by case basis. Parties who are of the opinion that oral evidence does not comply with Procedural Direction #4 may raise an objection with the Panel during the presentation and the Panel will rule on the objection. At this time the Panel will not set the time limit for oral evidence as requested by Northern Gateway.
The panel went on to repeat (and perhaps clarify) the rules set out in the January procedural directive,which has caused a great deal of confusion in the hearings.
It saysoral evidence should not include:
- technical or scientific information;
- opinions, views, information or perspectives of others
- detailed information on the presenter’s views on the decisions the Panel should make or detailed opinions about the Project;
- recommendations whether to approve or not approve the Project and the terms or
- conditions that should be applied if the Project were to proceed; or
- questions that the presenter wants answered.
The JRP ruling says that “If an oral evidence presentation or any part thereof does not qualify as oral evidence, the Panel will determine whether it is proper for the presentation to continue.”