Addressing Stakeholder Interests through Public Consultation: A Focus on Natural Resource Exploration in the Canadian Arctic

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region

Tags: social sciences, petroleum industry, satisfaction survey, commercial interests, public consultation

Principal Investigator: Mitrovic, Inya (1)
Licence Number: 15077
Organization: Royal Roads University
Licensed Year(s): 2012
Issued: Jun 04, 2012

Objective(s): To determine how effective the public consultation processes utilized by Mackenzie Gas Project’s proponents (Imperial Oil Resources Ventures Limited, the Mackenzie Valley Aboriginal Pipeline Limited Partnership, ConocoPhillips Canada [North] Limited, Shell Canada Limited and ExxonMobil Canada Properties) were in addressing and meeting stakeholder interests.

Project Description: The objective of this research project is to determine how effective the public consultation processes utilized by Mackenzie Gas Project’s proponents (Imperial Oil Resources Ventures Limited, the Mackenzie Valley Aboriginal Pipeline Limited Partnership, ConocoPhillips Canada [North] Limited, Shell Canada Limited and ExxonMobil Canada Properties) were in addressing and meeting stakeholder interests. Other components of this study will include determining the impact that the National Energy Board’s regulatory requirements may have had on the design of the proponents’ public consultation models and whether the use of mediation might benefit the outcome success of future public consultation processes in Canada’s North.

To accomplish the desired aim of this project, the researcher will utilize Christopher Moore’s Triangle of Satisfaction to determine the extent to which each proponents’ public consultation model was designed to meet the stakeholders’ psychological, procedural and substantive interests, while basing this research on the theory that if the interests and needs noted under each outcome satisfaction type (procedural, psychological, substantive) are met, an optimal outcome will occur.

Once all public consultation models have been identified in terms of their intended outcome satisfaction (that is, to what degree did they incorporate the attributes of each outcome satisfaction type in Moore’s Triangle of Satisfaction), the researcher will interview local residents in each of the regions affected by the Mackenzie Gas Project to identify their actual versus intended outcome satisfaction. This will enable the researcher to not only identify the initial gaps between each proponent’s public consultation model as compared to Moore’s Triangle of Satisfaction, but it will also enable the researcher identify how effective the various public consultation models were in addressing or meeting stakeholder interests. Furthermore, the researcher will seek to identify through interviews with both the proponents and stakeholders whether they believe mediation would benefit the public consultation process and have impact on their overall outcome satisfaction.

To successfully complete this research project, the researcher will travel to the Northwest Territories to conduct face-to-face/ one-on-one interviews with local residents and communities that participated in the Mackenzie Gas Project's public consultation program as stakeholders. Participants will be identified and recruited with the help of the project proponents, who will also facilitate appropriate introductions where necessary.

To participate in this research study as a stakeholder, all local residents of the Northwest Territories must meet the following two requirements: 1) they must be 18 years of age or older; 2) they must have participated in the Mackenzie Gas Project's public consultation program.

The interview questions with the stakeholders will focus on the participant’s experience with the Mackenzie Gas Project’s public consultation process and each participant will be asked to identify what could have been done differently to achieve greater outcome satisfaction.

The interview with each participant will take 30-40 minutes, and will be a one-time requirement. Therefore, except for the time spent with the researcher during the interview, the participants will not be required to dedicate any further time to this research project.

Each face-to-face interview will be audio-recorded. The participant may decline to have the interview audio-taped and must inform the interviewer/ researcher of this wish prior to the start of the interview. No names or personal information will be recorded on-tape. Rather, all interviewees will be assigned a participant number, which will be recorded on-tape and used to match the participant’s personal information noted on the consent form to the audio-tape. All audio recordings will be transferred into written transcripts and will be destroyed/ erased following the completion of this research study. The audio recordings will not be used for public exhibition

The results of this research project will dispute or affirm the effectiveness and sustainability of public consultation as a tool for managing stakeholder relations in Canada’s Arctic; understanding the gaps between the intended versus actual outcome satisfaction as a result of the project proponents’ public consultation process design is a critical step in obtaining practical information and insight into how such a process might be more effectively designed to meet stakeholder interests and needs in the context of Canada’s North. Furthermore, the results of this research project will provide all interested and involved parties with insight as to how requirements set by government regulatory bodies affect the design of the project proponents’ public consultation process and whether a different alternative dispute resolution method – mediation – might contribute to providing more effective and sustainable results.

By expanding the limited literature currently available on the Mackenzie Gas Project and its public consultation program, this research project will bring attention to the Northwest Territories and will offer new knowledge including a measurement for the adequacy of the Mackenzie Gas Project’s public consultation program.

This landmark research study will enable the researcher to draw conclusions and recommendations that can subsequently be published, expanded on, and incorporated into the planning and design of future public consultation processes in Canada’s North. Therefore, by participating in this research project, local communities in the Northwest Territories will have an opportunity to potentially change how future public consultations are conducted in Canada's North.

The researcher intends to disseminate this completed research project write-up (thesis) to all participants who partake in the gathering of the data necessary for the successful completion of this project and are interested in seeing the final product/ results. Participants will be asked at the conclusion of this interview with them whether they would like the results to be shared with them – their wishes will be honoured and tracked via the interview consent form.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 4, 2012 to June 30, 2012.