How to prepare for Final Argument?

This page provides an overview of final argument, draft conditions, tips on how to prepare your final argument, and preparing your response to another party’s argument.

What is final argument?

This is the opportunity for intervenors and the applicant (the company) to present their summarized position on the project to the Commission. It can be done in writing or through a combination of written and oral submissions.

The final argument allows you to:

  • express your views, opinions and conclusions on the project to the Commission by using all – and only – the information on the public record. No new information may be introduced during final argument
  • comment on the relevance and weight of any evidence by persuading the Commission that it should give less weight to some information and more to others
  • comment on the draft conditions issued by the Commission, propose modifications to the draft conditions, and suggest additional conditions
  • persuade the Commission why it should recommend to the Governor in Council that the project should be approved or denied, or other relief you may seek. You should be clear as to what relief you are asking and why the facts support this relief

How will final argument be conducted?

Final argument can be conducted in writing or through a combination of written and oral submissions. You should consult the hearing order, procedural directions, and hearing schedule to get information on how and when the final argument will occur.

If the final argument has an oral component, the Commission will issue an order of appearances, which outlines the order the parties will present their final argument. The applicant usually goes first, followed by the intervenors. The applicant has a right of reply.

What are conditions?

Conditions protect the public and the environment by reducing possible risks identified during the application and hearing process and include measures to mitigate the risks and effects of a project. They are legal requirements that a company must meet before and during construction and operation, and during and after a project is abandoned. The CER can enforce conditions using a range of options.

The CER monitors for compliance of conditions through various tools, such as inspections, management system audits, compliance meetings, manual or report reviews, emergency response exercise evaluations, information requests, and information submissions.

What are draft conditions?

The draft conditions are issued by the Commission before arguments. They provide parties the opportunity to comment on the suggested conditions or propose additional conditions during their argument. They allow the Commission to consider the parties’ comments to modify the conditions before they are final.

Issuing draft conditions does not mean that the Commission has made a decision to recommend approval of the project.

What is the process for Final Argument?

The process for both written and oral final argument follows in general, three phases:

  • Presentation of arguments. The applicant is the first to provide its final argument, followed by the Intervenors according to their order of appearance.
  • Reply to Arguments. The Commission usually allows for a “top-down/bottom-up” approach, which means that intervenors may get to respond to other parties’ arguments after the last intervenor has presented their main final argument. You should anticipate what other parties may say in their argument and orally express your views on whether or not you agree with them. Sometimes the Commission allows a written reply, though this is an exception.
  • Company Reply Argument. Finally, the company has the opportunity to provide its reply argument.

How can I prepare my argument?

To prepare your final argument, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the main points of my position regarding the project?
  • What evidence on the record supports my position?
  • What do I want the Commission to do (i.e. what relief do you seek)?
  • Do I want to provide comments on the draft conditions?
  • Do I want to propose additional conditions?

It isn’t necessary to comment on every aspect of the project, only those areas in the list of issues that are important to you and relate to your interests.

Tips to help you prepare:

  • Review relevant information on the public record, including the draft conditions.
  • Write your argument in advance and clearly state what you want the Commission to do:
    • approve or deny the project, or any other relevant relief important to you
    • give more or less weight to certain evidence
    • add, remove, or modify the draft conditions
  • Make sure your argument is organized in a logical manner and relates to topics on the list of issues.
  • Base your argument on evidence that is on the record:
    • Reference the evidence you are using to reach your conclusion, including exhibit numbers with the Adobe page numbers and transcript line numbers.
    • Refer to legislation, case law, and past CER decisions in your argument, even if they aren’t on the record.
    • For an oral final argument, bring a copy of all the evidence you have filed and plan to refer to in your argument so you can refer to it as needed. No new evidence can be admitted.

In some instances, the Commission will issue a template for final argument, which you should review before preparing your argument.

How can I prepare to respond during final argument?

To prepare your response to other arguments in the oral portion of a hearing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who may have a position that I disagree with?
  • Can I anticipate the main points of their argument and the evidence they will use to support their position?
  • Can my response show my disagreement based on evidence?

Tips to help you prepare:

  • Review relevant information on the public record, including the draft conditions.
  • Draft responses showing why you disagree with certain positions that may have been presented or that you can anticipate.
  • Base your responses on evidence.
    • Cite references to the evidence on the hearing record
    • Refer to legislation, case law, and past CER decisions
    • Bring a copy of all the evidence you have filed and plan to refer to in your argument so you can refer to it as needed.

How do I submit hearing documents?

If you have internet access you are expected to submit all documents electronically using the Participation Portal, a web-based tool to facilitate electronic submissions and distribution of hearing documents. Consult “How to submit documents with the Participation Portal?” for step-by-step instructions on submitting hearing documents through the Participation Portal.

If you are unable to file your documents electronically, you may file them to the Commission in person, by mail, or by fax. See the hearing order for details on the filing requirements for the hearing you registered to participate in.

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