Kenney defends government’s handling of appointments to refugee board

November 30, 2011 Samantha Skerrett

OTTAWA — Only two people appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board on the recommendation of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney have links to the Conservative party, Kenney said Tuesday.

He was responding to questions in the House of Commons about accusations by a former IRB chair, Peter Showler, that the board is no longer fully independent of the government. The Ottawa Citizen reported Showler’s comments Tuesday.

Under questioning by Don Davies, the NDP immigration critic, Kenney said he has recommended the appointment or reappointment of more than 140 IRB members during his time as minister.

But unlike the Liberals, who used the IRB as a “partisan dumping ground,” Kenney said the Conservatives “have respected its role as an independent quasi-judicial organization.”

While the Liberals appointed “failed campaign managers” and the spouses of Liberals MPs and senators to the IRB, Kenney said he was aware of only two people he’s recommended who “have any association” with the Conservative party.

In his interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Showler — who headed the board from 1999 to 2002 — agreed that past Liberal governments used the IRB as a patronage reward. But he said the Conservatives have been appointing people who “are just instinctively less receptive to refugee claims being made in Canada.”

 

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