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Guidelines for External Participants for CNSC Virtual Proceedings

Guiding principle for virtual proceedings:“Patience is a virtue when holding virtual proceedings.”Footnote 1

These best practices and guidelines (collectively called “the Guidelines”) for external participants in CNSC virtual proceedings were adapted from Best Practices for Remote HearingsFootnote 2 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of carrying on Commission business, including Commission meetings and hearings.

The Guidelines are predicated on the expectation that the Commission will carry on its business as usual with consideration for the adjustments and accommodations needed to hold its proceedings virtually. These Guidelines are intended to facilitate these objectives while ensuring fairness to all participantsFootnote 3 and taking into account any accessibility issues participants may have. Although the Guidelines were developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, their applicability is not necessarily limited to that situation.

Only registered participantsFootnote 4 will be linked to and allowed to participate in virtual proceedings via the virtual platform.Footnote 5 Participants should not forward the virtual platform proceeding invitations to others, because non-registered persons will not be allowed to participate. External participants can contact the CNSC Registry if invitations need to be extended to additional participants. Members of the public can observe the proceeding via webcast, as usual.

As is the practice for all public CNSC proceedings, no classified, proprietary or protected information should be discussed during the proceeding.

Additional resources for participants before or during the proceedings are available in appendix A.

1. General guidelines for CNSC virtual proceedings

1.1. Virtual Commission proceedings remain formal Commission proceedings. Where possible, and considering the current pandemic situation, the etiquette of a formal Commission proceeding should be maintained. Participants are to conduct themselves as they would at an in-person proceeding.

1.2. Participants should be ready to take part in the proceeding according to the schedule and aim to join the proceeding at least 15 to 20 minutes before the actual start time to ensure that there are no technological issues that could create a delay.

1.3. If applicable, participants should ensure that their display name appears as follows on the virtual platform:

  • First name Last name (English organization acronym/French organization acronym) For example: Jane Doe (CNSC/CCSN)

1.4. Reduce background noises to a minimum; avoid them where possible. The use of a headset and microphone is ideal for reducing background noise and enhancing audio clarity.

  • 1.4.1. Participants should remember to mute their microphones when not speaking during a proceeding. Participants should only unmute their microphones when invited to speak by the Commission.
  • 1.4.2. Notifications on other devices should be muted throughout the proceeding.

1.5. Participants should behave as though they are physically in the hearing room. Participants should introduce themselves prior to speaking to ensure that the transcription is complete and accurate.

  • A participant who wishes to speak during a proceeding (e.g., add to an answer, submit additional information) should use the “raise your hand” feature on Zoom. The Chair will then determine whether to recognize the requestor; if the requestor is recognized, the Chair will determine whether that person will be authorized to speak and when.

2. Technology guidelines

2.1. General technology guidelines

  • 2.1.1. In holding virtual proceedings, the CNSC understands that technology does not always cooperate. Participants are encouraged to prepare and test their computer, screen, microphone, camera and/or telephone well ahead of the proceedings. This includes ensuring that all devices are charged and/or plugged in and in good operating condition.
  • 2.1.2. Any participant who needs instruction on using the virtual platform may contact the CNSC Registry. Additional information on the virtual platform is also available in appendix A.
  • 2.1.3. If a participant loses their connection or encounters technical difficulties during a proceeding, they should contact the CNSC Registry.
  • 2.1.4. Ensure that any software, such as the virtual platform software, is up to date before the proceeding.

2.2. Internet connection

  • 2.2.1. Participants should test their internet connection prior to participating in the proceeding.
  • 2.2.2. Participants should avoid using public Wi-Fi because connection speeds are slow and security levels are unknown.
  • 2.2.3. If the internet connection in their location is slow, participants should consider using the “audio only” option on the virtual platform, or a combination of a telephone for the audio portion and a computer to stream video only.
    • Interpretation services are not provided when a participant joins via telephone.

2.3. Use of technological equipment

2.3.1. Devices being used for virtual proceedings should be placed on a stable surface. Avoid moving devices during the proceeding.

2.3.2. Minimize background noise during the proceeding. Participants can do this by using a headset with a microphone.

2.3.3. Participants who will be presenting a slide deck during the proceeding should become familiar with how to remotely control the slides on the virtual platform well in advance of the proceeding. This can include:

  • Requesting remote control of the presentation/slide deck (the presenter has to request control from the host of the virtual platform (CNSC IT/AV staff)
  • Using their mouse to flip slides on the presentation itself or using the keyboard arrows to flip through the presentation

2.4. Contingency planning

2.4.1. All participants should ensure that they are able to connect via telephone in case any problems arise with the virtual platform or with a participant’s internet connection during the proceeding.

  • Participants who have connectivity problems (e.g., a weak connection, cutting in and out) should consider turning off their camera and participating via audio only.

2.4.2. If the virtual platform becomes unavailable during the proceeding, the proceeding will continue via teleconference.

3. Microphones

  • Ideally, participants should use a directional cardioid microphone that captures the speaker’s voice while attenuating ambient sound, with a frequency range of at least 125Hz–15000 Hz. Many options are available.
  • Participants who are concerned about their sound quality can contact the CNSC Registry to arrange a sound quality test or get microphone recommendations

Appendix A – Additional resources for participants

1. Help with Zoom™


Footnote 1

Paraphrased from the original statement by Paul Allen, Executive Director, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, during the CAMPUT webinar, Holding a Virtual Hearing, April 29, 2020.

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Footnote 2

Best Practices for Remote Hearings, collaboratively developed by the joint e-Hearings Task Force of The Advocates’ Society, the Ontario Bar Association, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, May 13, 2020.

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Footnote 3

Throughout these Guidelines, “participants” refers to and includes CNSC staff, other government department representatives, licensee/industry representatives and intervenors.

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Footnote 4

The names of all participants – internal and external – in the proceeding must be provided to the CNSC Registry at least one week before the proceedings. IT/AV staff will have a list of the approved participants, and these will be the only participants allowed to join the proceeding via the virtual platform.

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Footnote 5

For the purposes of these guidelines, “virtual platform” refers to Zoom™ unless otherwise specified.

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