For immediate release
21 September 2006


Montreal – The Canadian Council for Refugees today expressed serious concern that the lack of government appointments is undermining Canada’s capacity to make fair and timely decisions in refugee and immigration matters.  The federal government is failing to appoint and re-appoint sufficient numbers of members to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
“We are seeing two major problems: the government is for the most part not renewing members – even highly competent members – appointed under the previous government; nor are they making enough new appointments,” said Victor Porter, CCR Executive Committee member. “The result is that the Board is going to suffer in both quality and quantity of members.  This will hurt refugees and immigrants appearing before the Board: they will wait longer for a hearing and are likely to face a less experienced member when they are finally heard.”
The IRB is already short 34 members (22% of the total complement).  Taking into account mandates that are ending in the coming months, 64 appointments or re-appointments, representing 41% of the member complement, are needed by the end of March 2007.  The member shortage will inevitably lead to backlogs.  Both the Refugee Protection Division and the Immigration Appeal Division are affected.  A number of the senior and coordinating members have not been re-appointed, leaving gaps in the Board’s leadership.  There is also a serious shortage of francophone members outside Montreal, which will create injustices for French-speaking refugee claimants.
“The government has failed to reappoint several excellent members because of a perceived connection with the previous Liberal government, although in some instances that perception is incorrect,” said Peter Showler, former IRB chairperson.  “This is a serious loss to the IRB.  Who does the government think will train and mentor the new cadre of members when the government eventually gets around to appointing them?  This government has caused serious damage to the IRB and ultimately to refugees and to Canada.”
The Conservative Party of Canada in its 2006 Federal Election Platform committed itself to “making qualified government appointments.”  They rightly criticized practices of appointing unqualified people based on partisan connections, a problem that has dogged the IRB in the past.  However, the IRB does now have a non-political merits-based appointment process.  Failure to respect this process – by not re-appointing qualified members based on perceived political connections, or by not appointing qualified candidates in a timely manner – thwarts the goal of “making qualified government appointments.”
Janet Dench, Executive Director, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)
Victor Porter, Executive Committee member, (604) 764-8355
Francisco Rico-Martinez, Inland Protection Working Group co-chair, (416) 721-8735

The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of over 170 organizations involved in refugee sponsorship and protection and in newcomer settlement. The CCR serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.

6839 Drolet #302, Montréal, QC, Canada H2S 2T1 TEL.: (514) 277-7223 FAX : (514) 277-1447