Keywords: adjournment; pesticide use permits; herbicide; glyphosate; “Vision”.
This was an application by the Fort Nelson First Nation to adjourn the hearing of its appeal against five Pesticide Use Permits issued to the Ministry of Forests. The First Nation argued that an adjournment was required because co-counsel to the First Nation was under medical care; an expert report on the use of “Vision” could not be completed until snowmelt; and, a final draft of a Canadian report on the medical effects of herbicide and pesticide exposure on children would not be completed in time for the hearing.
The Panel concluded that any inconvenience to the First Nation from not granting an adjournment was outweighed by the risk of prejudice to the other parties, especially the Ministry of Forests. Based on the fact that there were three months remaining before the hearing date, the Panel found that the First Nation had a reasonable amount of time to replace its co-counsel. Further, the First Nation failed to explain why its expert forester did not undertake field investigations the previous summer, and didn’t explain the relevance of the Canadian report on herbicide and pesticide exposure, or why the draft report couldn’t be presented at the hearing since its authors would be testifying. Finally, the Panel noted that the First Nation were given seven months advance notice of the hearing – a reasonable amount of time to prepare for a hearing of this nature.
Conversely, the Panel found that the Deputy Administrator and the Ministry of Forests could be prejudiced by an adjournment and the Ministry of Forests might suffer financial losses due to hindered seedling development or seedling failure. The application for adjournment was denied.