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As new NEB members are appointed, Energy East hearings must be reset

On December 12th, Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr has announced the appointment of 3 new temporary members to the National Energy Board (NEB) — See below for background information on each new member.


As we continue to inform and organize communities that are impacted by Energy East, it is important to note the progress of the official hearing processes in order to assess upcoming opportunities.


These appointments come three months after the Energy East hearing were stalled following the recusal of the 3 board members assigned to the hearing. Earlier that summer the National Observer revealed that they had met in secret with former premier of Quebec Jean Charest who was working for TransCanada at the time. These revelations compounded historical critiques that the NEB had close ties to the oil industry it was mandated to regulate in the public interest.


The hearings were announced to be suspended until the government appointed new board members. Now that these board members are appointed by the Minister of Natural Resources, the NEB can assign them to the Energy East hearings. We do not yet know when this will happen, but we can assume that it will be in a timely fashion given the 3 month delay in the process so far.


At the end of September, following the suspension of the hearings, Ecojustice sent a letter to the NEB on behalf of Transition Initiative Kenora to have the hearings restart from scratch to avoid apprehension of bias. Once the NEB board members are assigned to work on the Energy East project, one of the first task they will have will be to determine how to restart the hearing. The Council of Canadians supports this request from Transition Initiative Kenora, and in order for a fair process to be followed, the company would have to re-file its application and the hearings would have to restart from the very beginning. At the time of suspension, the hearing process was a few months in. You can read the original timeline and process by consulting the hearing order.


As we wait for updates on this process, the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO) at Natural Resources Canada seems to have slowly started consultation with Indigenous communities as set up through the interim measures the federal government announced in early 2016. Very little information is available, but you get find a general description of the crown consultations they are set to conduct for Energy East Project on their website. You can also find contact information to find out more information through their project tracker.


More information will also be released in the coming weeks or months on the NEB’s community consultations for which temporary board members were appointed recently, as well as Environment and Climate Change Canada’s consultation on their climate change assessment.


Background info on the three new board members:

  1. Don Ferguson, a geologist by training who spent 35 years working the public service in New Brunswick, 11 years at the Deputy Minister level. He is now co-principal for a New Brunswick based management consulting firm for the public sector, as well as Chief Strategy Officer at the New Brunswick Institute of Research, Data and Training at the University of New Brunswick.

  2. Carole Malo runs her own consultancy firm and specializes in financing, risk assessment and project execution. She’s worked for corporations like SNC-Lavallin and Aecom, as well as for public sector bodies such as Hydro-Quebec and Infrastructure Ontario. She has extensive experience with Public Private Partnerships as well as with development, procurement and implementation of large energy and infrastructure projects, notably in the oil and gas sector.

  3. Marc Paquin is a lawyer by trade and CEO of International consulting firm Unisféra that focuses on sustainability and corporate responsibility. Since 2014, Marc has served as a part time board member of the BAPE in Quebec.


See also their biographies on the government website.


For information on the risks that Energy East poses, see our most recent factsheet.