Engaging with Canadians
Issue: Engaging with Canadians
"An excellent regulator engages empathically with all segments of society when making decisions and exercising authority."
-Dr. C. Coglianese, Listening, Learning, Leading: A Framework for Regulatory Excellence
A vital part of the National Energy Board’s (NEB or Board) work involves reaching out to Canadians – listening to their perspectives, understanding their values, responding to concerns and issues, and when appropriate, incorporating what we heard into what we do.
Operating in the public interest means listening and responding to the interests of all Canadians including Indigenous peoples. If we are to serve the Canadian public interest well, we know that Canadians must be confident that we can enforce the orders, rules and regulations that protect them, their communities and their environment.
It’s essential that the NEB engages with a wide variety of external groups as part of its ongoing oversight of energy facilities and regulated activities. This active engagement helps the NEB to:
- Understand the Canadian public interest, including the diverse perspectives of Canadians;
- Collaborate on the most effective means to ensure that energy facilities are safe for the public, workers and the environment;
- Proactively identify and respond to emerging issues; and
- Effectively regulate facilities under the NEB’s jurisdiction over their lifecycle.
The NEB engages regularly with regulated companies and industry groups - not to discuss specific applications, but to work together on improving the operation of the pipeline system as a whole. Equally important is the NEB engagement with people and groups who are impacted by the NEB’s regulatory policies or decisions. Frequent interaction with other regulators and organizations, including municipal, provincial, federal and international bodies helps promote regulatory excellence.
While engagement is a priority for the NEB, the NEB is required to be, and be seen to be, independent when making its regulatory decisions or recommendations on specific applications. There are strict rules around ensuring that the engagement we undertake does not create conflicts of interest.
When engaging with Canadians about a specific application, we have to ensure our method of engagement follows these rules. For example, the NEB typically holds public written or oral processes to gather the relevant information on the public record in order to make a regulatory decision on a major pipeline application. This allows everyone to see what information will be considered in the decision or recommendation.
There are fewer requirements for engagement activities not related to a specific application. For example, when drafting regulations, the NEB may consult with a wide variety of people, and in public or private. Bilateral or multi-party meetings may be appropriate when working with industry groups to improve specific outcomes, as long as these activities don’t compromise the necessary degree of independence we need to make our regulatory decisions and recommendations.
The NEB’s Board Member Operating Model outlines the applicable principles for Board members to follow when they’re meeting with Canadians. In order to ensure full transparency, meeting minutes are made available to all participants, and a public record of the presentation materials, hand-outs, organizers, participants and outcomes are kept.
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