Hearing Commissioners

Hearing Commissioners

Hearing commissioners represent another important part of the AER’s structure. Reporting to a chief hearing commissioner, these commissioners are responsible for conducting all hearings into energy applications and regulatory appeals. The hearing commissioners are also involved in developing the organization’s hearing procedures, rules, and processes for Alternate Dispute Resolution by hearing commissioner. Hearing commissioners are independent adjudicators, and their decisions may only be reviewed by the Court of Appeal of Alberta.

Hearing Commissioner Code of Conduct [PDF]

Alex Bolton, P. Geo., Chief Hearing Commissioner

Mr. Alex Bolton, P. Geo., Hearing Commissioner (Full-time) Mr. Bolton served as a board member of the ERCB, appointed in October 2010. A professional geologist and member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, Mr. Bolton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Sciences and a Masters of Management Sciences in Management of Technology through the University of Waterloo. Prior to joining the ERCB, he was president and CEO of Epicentre Consulting Inc. Mr. Bolton served for four years as Director, Compliance & Enforcement, with the Natural Resources Conservation Board; six years with Anderson Exploration dealing with environmental issues and community and regulatory affairs; and nine years as a senior environment advisor and exploration/development geologist with Home Oil.

Barbara McNeil, B.Sc., C.M., Hearing Commissioner (Full-time)

Ms. McNeil is an accomplished senior mediator, administrative tribunal member, and facilitator. For the past twenty years she has been involved in mediating and facilitating regulatory, municipal, energy, workplace, stakeholder engagement, and land management issues. Ms. McNeil is currently chair of the Banff Development Appeal Board and has previous experience as a board member with the Natural Resources Conservation Board, Alberta Municipal Government Board, and Federal Farm Debt Review Board. A chartered mediator, Ms. McNeil has served as a mediator for Alberta Municipal Affairs, the ERCB, the Court of Queen’s Bench, and the Calgary Police Service.

Cecilia Low, B.Sc. LL.B., LL.M., Hearing Commissioner (Full-time)

Ms. Low is a well-respected regulatory, environmental, and energy lawyer in Alberta. Professionally trained as both an engineer and a lawyer, Ms. Low has experience in alternative dispute resolution, negotiation, and mediation. She spent her early career as a geophysicist working with energy companies before changing gears and moving to the legal profession, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in law from the University of Calgary. Ms. Low was a partner with Lawson Lundell LLP, worked with Enbridge as a senior regulatory counsel, and served as a fellow with the Canadian Institute of Resource Law. She has practiced in the areas of regulatory, environmental, aboriginal, and energy law and has argued in front of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the National Energy Board (NEB), the Northwest Public Utilities Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Christine Macken, B.A., Hearing Commissioner (Full-time)

Ms. Macken is an accomplished mediator and facilitator with significant regulatory experience. A past board member with the Environmental Appeal Board, Ms. Macken has previously worked with the ERCB advising the executive and the board on a variety of regulatory issues. Prior to that she spent nearly a decade as a senior manager with the Clean Air Strategic Alliance. Ms. Macken spent her early career working with the Government of Alberta as a senior intergovernmental officer in the Department of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs. A leader in the field of alternate dispute resolution with a solid understanding of administrative justice, Ms. Macken has been the recipient of two Alberta Premier’s Awards for Excellence and two Alberta Emerald Foundation Awards.

Cindy Chiasson, LL.B., Hearing Commissioner (Full-time)

Ms. Chiasson is a lawyer with extensive experience in environmental and natural resource regulatory matters, as well as experience in administrative law, including natural justice. Most recently she served as a board member of the Subdivision and Development Appeals Board at the City of Edmonton. She had a distinguished seventeen-year career with the Environmental Law Centre, where she began as staff counsel and served as the executive director for twelve years. As well as being an independent consultant on environmental law and policy for many years, Ms. Chiasson consulted with Alberta Environment on its development and implementation of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Ms. Chiasson articled and practised law with Duncan & Craig, Barristers & Solicitors.

Rob McManus, M.E.Des., B.A., Hearing Commissioner (Full-time)

Mr. McManus served as a board member for the ERCB, appointed in December 2010. Mr. McManus holds a Masters of Environmental Design degree in Environmental Science, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, and is trained in environmental mediation and negotiation. Mr. McManus has close to 30 years of professional experience, including over two decades of environmental and regulatory management experience and has served as a commissioner and chairman of the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission. Mr. McManus has held senior positions with Calpine Canada, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Shell Canada Limited, and Gulf Canada Resources.

Brian Zaitlin, Ph.D., P.Geol., C.P.G., Hearing Commissioner (Part-time)

Dr. Zaitlin is an accomplished geologist who has spent over 35 years in industry and academia. He has significant experience in the technical evaluation of exploration and production opportunities throughout Western Canada and the United States. He has worked with a wide variety of stakeholders, including landowners, federal and provincial agencies and regulatory bodies, and various public and private companies, including private equity and financial institutions. He has significant experience working with First Nations, including being chief geologist and board director for two First Nation energy companies. Dr. Zaitlin has authored or delivered over 100 peer-reviewed technical papers and oral presentations and is the recipient of many awards, including the Canadian Society of Unconventional Resources’ Sproule Innovation and Achievement Award, and the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists’ Medal of Merit, and was an American Association of Petroleum Geologists distinguished lecturer. 

Heather Kennedy, B.Sc. (Hons) (Part-time)

Ms. Kennedy has spent 36 years working in the mining, energy, and government sectors, moving from technical roles into roles that deal with the social impact of resource development. Employed with Suncor Energy Inc. for 15 years, she held vice president positions in government relations, major projects, operational excellence, stakeholder relations, and human resources. She has had many external roles with collaborative entities such as the Alberta Chamber of Resources, Regional Issues Working Group, Athabasca Tribal Council, Alberta Economic Development Authority, Athabasca Oil Sands Area Transportation Coordinating Committee, and the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group. In 2007, she was seconded to the Government of Alberta as assistant deputy minister for the Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat. In this role, she helped create a long-term strategic plan for responsible oil sands development and led significant improvements to regional planning in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area.

Jude Daniels, LL.B., Hearing Commissioner (Part-time)

Ms. Daniels has extensive experience as a lawyer and aboriginal consultation advisor dealing with regulatory matters, including reviewing regulatory applications and negotiating benefit agreements. Since 2014 Ms. Daniels has been a sole legal practitioner. In 2014, she was appointed by the federal government to the Social Security Tribunal – General Division where as the sole tribunal member, she hears appeals under the Canada Pension Plan Act.

Ms. Daniels served for two years as senior legal counsel and four years as senior technical lead in aboriginal relations with TransCanada Pipelines; and three years as manager of aboriginal relations and four years as counsel with BP Canada Energy Company. Jude is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and has also served as general counsel with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association and led a cross-ministry team on land and legal issues at the Government of Alberta, Aboriginal Affairs.

Lorne Ternes, LL.B., Hearing Commissioner (Part-time)

Mr. Ternes is a lawyer specializing in aboriginal, intergovernmental, and trade law. He is also involved with a consulting and management firm specializing in aboriginal issues; he focuses on resolving questions of aboriginal, government, and resource development interests collaboratively and positively. Early in his career, Mr. Ternes worked as a land agent, acquiring surface and mineral rights throughout western Canada. As an expert legal officer with Alberta Justice from 1989 to 1998, Mr. Ternes provided legal advice and assistance to Alberta on Métis issues, several treaty and specific claims, and general aboriginal and treaty rights issues with clients that have included provincial and federal governments, tribal councils, First Nations communities, and industry.

Terry Engen, Hearing Commissioner (Part-time)

Mr. Engen was appointed as a board member of the ERCB in October 2010. Mr. Engen is a fifth-generation farmer in Lacombe County and, prior to his appointment, was the reeve of the county. He was an elected municipal official for several years and has directed and chaired numerous commissions, review boards, and public hearings. He has also worked with several community organizations in senior level positions. Mr. Engen has a diverse background in leadership roles with Lacombe County, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts & Counties, Hockey Alberta, and his local community. He is recognized for his leadership skills and his ability to build collaborative relationships with government agencies and the community.