British Columbia

National Energy Board review panel comes to Vancouver

A government-appointed committee to review the National Energy Board comes to Vancouver to gather public feedback.

The board has been the subject of controversy in light of recent pipeline project reviews

A man holds a sign while marching to a protest outside National Energy Board hearings on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C. Critics say members of the NEB are too close to the industry. (Canadian Press)

A group of experts reviewing Canada's National Energy Board are in Vancouver for a national tour gathering public feedback.

The five member panel was appointed by the Liberal government in November to consult with Canadians and come up with recommendations to reform the energy regulator.

Critics say members of the NEB are often too close to the energy companies they are supposed to assess. Controversy erupted over the NEB's consultations in Montreal on the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline. Three members of the NEB who were reviewing that pipeline had to step down after it was reported they had met with lobbyists.

Wendy Grant-John, the first woman elected as B.C. regional chief to the Assembly of First Nations and a senior Aboriginal advisor at Deloitte, is one of the members of the review panel.

She said the NEB — created in 1959 — is ripe for modernization.

One of the biggest areas of concern, she said, is the role of the NEB with regards to Indigenous consultation, particularly whether the board has a legal duty to consult.

"That's the big issue. We have court cases right now saying the NEB has not done the kind of consultation and accommodation with regard to these," she said.

Grant-John said the review panel will be gathering public feedback, as well as consulting legislation to make its recommendations, which will be presented to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, Mar. 31.

They are in Vancouver, Feb. 8 and 9.

A public open house is taking place Wednesday night at the Marriott Hotel in Coal Harbour starting at 7 p.m. PT. On the second day, panelists will meet with Indigenous representatives.

The public consultations continue nation-wide until Mar. 29.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled National Energy Board review panel comes to Vancouver