Canadian Bar Association Condems Refugee Board Selection Changes

Posted by admin on Jul 19th, 2007

*For Immediate Release July 17, 2007*

*OTTAWA* – The CBA says having the minister of citizenship and immigration name members to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)  selection committee may open the door to patronage appointments and must be opposed. “The CBA believes that a system where the minister names selection committee members may well be viewed as politicized and more open to patronage appointments, which would undermine its mandate to recommend qualified IRB members based on merit criteria,” wrote Jean-Philippe Brunet, Chair of the CBA’s National Citizenship and Immigration Law Section, in a letter to the Commons Citizenship and Immigration Committee.

The CBA notes that until very recently patronage was rampant in the IRB appointment process, and this lack of merit-based appointments was reflected in incidences of misconduct and poor decision-making by some Board members. The CBA welcomed changes made in 2004 to make the appointment process more merit-based and transparent.

The Minister recently announced that two advisory bodies with a role in appointments to the IRB would be merged into one selection advisory board. The Minister will have a direct hand in appointing three of the members to the seven-person selection board. Given that a merit-based process for appointments has only recently taken effect at the IRB, this change risks turning back the clock on the progress made.

“One of the key concerns leading to the 2004 reforms was that patronage should not govern – or be perceived as governing – appointment of members to the IRB,” Brunet wrote. At present, the spectre of bad decisions shielded from full scrutiny still looms.

The CBA has made its concerns clear in a letter to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, and during an appearance before the Committee in April opposing proposed changes to the appointment process.

The CBA letter is available on the CBA website at:

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