This was a pre-hearing Application by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (“Applicant”), one of seven Appellants, to postpone the hearing for appeals against a Pest Management Plan and various Approvals issued by the Deputy Administrator, Pesticide Control Act (“Respondent”), to Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (“Canfor”).
The Applicant argued that an adjournment was required to allow the Applicant and Canfor time to meet in an attempt to narrow the issues and shorten the appeal hearing process. Canfor supported, and the Respondent did not object to, an adjournment. Four of the remaining Appellants objected to the Application.
The Board found that the Applicant failed to show that a postponement of the hearing was justified in the circumstances. While no previous postponement had been granted, the Board found that a postponement would unfairly prejudice the other Appellants. The Board noted the Application was received only three business days before the hearing was scheduled to commence, and only after the Board had been notified by Canfor of the pending Application and inquired into the matter. Further, all of the appeals were to be heard together to reduce the duplication of evidence and the cost of holding multiple hearings. Scheduling a hearing involving nine parties was a difficult task and most, if not all, of the parties made many sacrifices to be available on the scheduled dates. To secure new hearing dates, prior to the upcoming spray season, that would accommodate the schedules of all of the parties and their respective witnesses and experts appeared unlikely. Further, the hearing would not be significantly shortened if the Applicant narrowed its issues, and the order of presentations by Appellants could be altered to allow more time for the Applicant and Canfor to meet and discuss options.