The complainant acted as counsel for a refugee claimant before the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).
The complainant alleged that the RPD member raised his voice, became angry and impatient, and walked out of the hearing room abruptly ending the hearing.
The Chairperson decided to refer the complaint to the Ombudsperson for investigation under the
Procedures for Making a Complaint about a Member (the Procedures) as the allegations were within scope of the Procedures. This decision was consistent with the recommendation of the Ombudsperson.
Following careful consideration of this matter, the Chairperson accepted the conclusions in the investigation report, as follows:
- The member became perceptibly frustrated and impatient with the refugee claimant and raised his voice, before ultimately abruptly ending the hearing and leaving the hearing room
- A complainant's conduct during the hearing could be a contextual factor relevant to the evaluation of a member's conduct. There may be times during a hearing when exchanges between a member and counsel can become animated and could result in interruptions or people speaking over each other. Members have the challenging responsibility of managing the hearing room, retaining their composure, and dealing with hearing participants in a respectful manner. However, no factors were identified that would justify the disrespectful and unprofessional conduct of the member
- It is especially troubling that the member walked out of the hearing. Such conduct undermines public confidence in the integrity of the IRB. When a hearing is not completed, the general practice is to fix a date for when the hearing will resume or if that is not possible, a member should inform the claimant that they will receive a notice of a new hearing date. The member did not attempt to convey such information or bring the hearing to an orderly end. It is not acceptable to walk out of the hearing room and leave a refugee claimant in suspense about what will happen next
After a review of the evidence and having determined that the investigation process was fair, the Chairperson concluded that there had been a breach of the
Code of Conduct for Members of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The member's conduct was not courteous and respectful.
As the member was no longer an employee of the IRB, the Chairperson concluded that there was no need for corrective or disciplinary measures in this case.
While there were no remedial or corrective actions taken regarding the former member, the Chairperson asked that the file be examined with a view to informing ongoing training regarding maintaining a professional and respectful environment during hearings.
The file was closed.