670 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
one other. No one else could see anyone else. The advocate was not in the
same physical space as his client, and even the interpreter could not see the
person for whom he was translating.
This was not a “Zoom” experience. Where, precisely, was the hearing
location when most of the participants were physically miles apart from
each other? This was a hearing taking place not in cyberspace but rather,
seemingly, in “outer space” (how I, as chair, perceived the experience), or
in the notional head spaces of ten different people participating together, all
at once, in their respective brains. Weird, indeed. Wonderful, indeed.
The experience was wonderful because it worked. When the hearing concluded
four hours later, I was satisfied that justice had been done, effectively
and efficiently. My conclusion is that justice according to Canadian
high standards can be achieved even in a virtual hearing space that is difficult
to describe or define. Decision makers have the tools to make justice
work, even when the hearing takes place in a surreal environment.
As a Board legal member who chairs these teleconference hearings, I discovered
that despite a few inherent problems involving the logistics of the
technology, at the end of every one of my hearings I have been satisfied
that those hearings were respectful and fair to all participants. In all, the use
of teleconference technology for oral hearings has been an exhilarating
career experience for me.
Looking forward to a post-COVID-19 world, I still see a use for teleconference
hearings in the Act’s context. For example, teleconference technology
may be the best choice when a party requests it and there is no objection
from the other party. It is also useful when applicants may be unable or
unwilling to attend at a facility-like setting, preferring to participate by
phone from their home location.7 Videoconference technology may also
not be practical for a person living in poverty, who has no computer or who
lacks the skills to use Zoom-type technology; such a person will likely have
access to a landline or cell phone, though, and know how to use the phone.
Teleconference technology will also be very useful in situations where a
very quick detention review is deemed necessary or appropriate. There
might be a need for a legal determination in a week, or sooner, from the
date of detention; it is much easier to schedule teleconferences than it is to
locate and book hearing rooms, or find videoconferencing technology, in
Having said that, there are reasons why I believe teleconference hearings
are not usually going to be the preferred choice for detention reviews under
the Act—not in the context of pre-COVID-19 conditions, that is. I recognize,
however, that desperate times cry out for desperate measures. Thus, I