The complainant in this matter is counsel for an individual who appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada's (IRB) Refugee Protection Division (RPD). The complaint expressed concerns about bias, procedural fairness and misconduct by the member, and was submitted to the IRB Office of Integrity for consideration and action under the IRB's Procedures for Making a Complaint about a Member (the Procedures).
The allegations relating to procedural fairness and apprehension of bias were screened out by the Chairperson, as the complaint process is strictly intended to address a member's conduct and not their decision. The Procedures specifically exclude consideration of complaints related to allegations of bias. These are adjudicative matters that can only be dealt with by the Refugee Appeal Division or the Federal Court (as applicable).
The allegations related to the member's conduct included inappropriate remarks and questions and interrupting the claimant, inappropriate remarks to and “shutting down" counsel, mischaracterizing evidence, and the member taking on an adversarial role in the hearing.
A full review of the audio recording showed that a heated exchange took place between the member and counsel, in which both demonstrated a lack of civility and respect towards each other. It was found that the member failed to act courteously at times during the hearing, as did counsel. In one instance, the member admonished the claimant for giving an approximation in response to a question, which he should not have done.
The Chairperson found that, taking into account the entirety of the hearing and an apology made by the member to counsel, and all other relevant considerations, the member's conduct with respect to the allegations was not serious enough to constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of the IRB.