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Muskrat Falls inquiry commissioner issues request

A public inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project is designed to examine many aspects of the $12.7-billion hydroelectric project.
A public inquiry into the Muskrat Falls project is designed to examine many aspects of the $12.7-billion hydroelectric project. - file photo

Justice Richard LeBlanc asks for submissions on terms of reference

Justice Richard LeBlanc is not able to amend or expand the terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Muskrat Falls Project, but he is interested in hearing any considerations for interpretation of the terms of reference, as issued by the provincial government.

In a news release Thursday, inquiry staff released a call for submissions.

They should be in writing, not exceed 20 double-spaced pages, using 11-point font at a minimum. They can be emailed (admin@muskratfallsinquiry.ca) or delivered to the commission’s offices in St. John’s. The deadline is 5 p.m. on Feb. 15.

LeBlanc is expected to issue a decision on his interpretation of the terms of reference. He has already said this is specific to wording. This will not be, for example, a walk-through of the work to be undertaken in the inquiry, relevant to each section of the terms of reference.

Website active

The inquiry’s website — www.muskratfallsinquiry.ca — is also now up and running.

The site will be updated regularly, but already offers several items, including biographical write-ups on the commissioner and co-counsel, rules of procedure, legislation and news releases.

The inquiry will offer transcripts and webcasts on this site as work progresses.

In the rules of procedure, the commissioner noted he is encouraging anyone with information potentially helpful to the inquiry to provide the information as soon as possible.

Once LeBlanc has given some indication as to his interpretation of the terms of reference, the inquiry’s next step will be his determining who has standing.

Inquiry standing

The rules of procedure give some guidance on how to obtain standing before the inquiry.

It can be approached as an individual, group of individuals, official organization or corporation.

The first step is a written submission, explaining why you’re seeking standing. There will be a public announcement when written submissions are starting to be accepted.

All of these submissions will be made public.

The Public Inquiries Act guides the commissioner as he decides who is ultimately given standing. It requires he give consideration to: who may be adversely affected by the commission’s findings; whether or not participation would aid the work of the inquiry; and whether or not participation could contribute to openness and fairness.

LeBlanc has the option to ask applicants to speak, to appear and explain their reasons for requesting standing. And he may ultimately grant standing to some applicants for only certain portions of the inquiry process.

Parties granted standing are generally expected to retain legal counsel, with applications for assistance in funding for that representation to be submitted at the time standing is being requested.

Further information on the requirements are available in the rules of procedure, now on the inquiry website and directly through the office in St. John’s.

RELATED LINK:
Muskrat Falls Inquiry – Terms of Reference

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