Wednesday, October 04, 2006

IRB Sex Scandal & Patronage Appointments

Member Steve Ellis is no stranger to the limelight. From 1991 to 1997, he served as a Toronto City Councillor and was known for his fights and his antics.
He opposed smoking restrictions, island airport expansion plans and bicycle lanes on College Street.

On one memorable occasion he had to be dragged out of Metro Hall after lying on the carpet in an apparent protest against the proposed market-value assessment.

Now, he will also be known for propositioning a Korean woman and abusing his power as a Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board. (How appropriate that the British singer, Steve Ellis, is part of a band called "Love Affair".)

In the audio recording, Ellis suggests he can approve her application if she has an affair with him, but warned Kim not to tell her boyfriend.

"He might try to make trouble and say, `Oh yeah, this guy she fucked was a judge. She fucked him and that's why she is fucking him and that's why he said yes'," Ellis said.

There have been many articles over the last couple days about the shock, his suspension, the sex, and the aftermath. I'm mostly interested in 2 things:

First, will the government review the patronage appointment process and (finally) implement a systerm whereby IRB Members are selected based on professional qualifications?

Member Ellis was actually more qualified than most. He has an LL.B. and practiced as a personal injury lawyer. In 2000, he was appointed to the IRB by the Liberal Government as a patronage appointment. I've met him. He knows the ins and outs of the IRB. He has been described by Immigration lawyers as "fairly popular."

Notwithstanding Member Ellis' qualifications, the patronage appointment process is flawed. As part of its mandate for "an open and accountable government", I hope the Conservatives see this scandal as an chance to fix the system.

Immigration Minister Monte Solberg pledged change for the process. We'll have to see if he follows through.

Second, will this affect the fight for Reverse-Order Questioning within the IRB Hearing process?

Member Ellis championed this worthwhile change and the issues remains unsettled. For more information, check out this article, on page 3, "Reverse-order questioning at the RPD—the latest word." (I try to keep my views on esoteric points of law at a minimum for this space.) For Member Steve Ellis' views, check out this immigration case where he is cited at length.


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