IRB Seeks to Halt Investigations

Montreal Gazette » Appointments investigated after serious flaws found in IRB hiring practices:

The Public Service Commission is investigating 13 appointments made by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, some involving its most senior officials.

The investigations were sparked by a 2009 audit that found serious flaws in the Ottawa-based IRB’s hiring practices. The PSC is probing whether the 13 appointments were based on merit and followed “guiding values” laid down in the Public Service Employment Act.

The IRB claims the investigations “violate the rules of procedural fairness.” It has asked the Federal Court to halt them until the court can rule on a judicial challenge of their methodology. If allowed to proceed, it says in court documents, the investigations will cause “irreparable harm” to the IRB.

The IRB is Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal, making more than 47,000 decisions on refugee protection and immigration matters every year.

Its effectiveness depends on maintaining the public’s trust, the IRB argues in a memorandum filed with the Federal Court. “Any adverse finding on an appointment can permanently breach the public’s trust in the IRB and erode public confidence in the administration of justice.” One of the commission’s investigations was completed in June and found the appointment in question was not based on merit. The other 12 are ongoing.One of the high-profile officials under investigation is the director general of the IRB’s immigration division, according to an affidavit filed by the agency’s executive director, Simon Coakeley.

Its the circularity of the logic that gets me — because the revelation that the IRB may be doing irreparable harm to people’s lives may do irreparable damage to the IRB’s reputation, we can’t reveal the study’s results.

This argument seems to stems from the fundamental concern that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. But what would normally be understood as an edict on transparency gets used to justify the propping up of false reputations. This isn’t to suggest that all IRB adjudicators are terrible people or terrible judges, but that the tribunal is badly in need of an overhaul, and refusing any independent examination into the IRB only makes trusting it that much more difficult.

About the Author

Fathima Cader
Fathima Cader is in her first year of law at the University of British Colombia. She received a BSc in Life Sciences and a BAH in English from Queen's University and an MA in English from the University of Toronto. Her legal and academic interests include social justice law, cultural studies, and digital media studies. She freelances as a web and graphic designer.