Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I just remarked that when I retired on March 16, I never thought I'd be here. I don't come with briefing books or advisers, and I did not consult the IRB since my departure with respect to the state of the union.
As you know, I'm here as an individual because I left my position as Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on March 16.
Mr. Chairman, as you no doubt noted, I was reluctant to testify before this committee. It is not because I am retired or that I might fail in my responsibilities, but because I thought that the last time I testified, I provided the committee with a fairly complete picture of the Board, its members and its issues.
Having said that, I recognize my responsibilities and my duty to be here. After 42 years of service in the federal public service, I was ready to spend more time with my family and to take up new projects on my own. I'm very proud to have had the privilege of directing the Board, an important institution of the federal government.
As I noted in my letter to Minister Finley, I am proud of the innovation accomplishments achieved during my more than four years as chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Together with a team—and we have a very professional management team—we were able to eliminate the backlog in the refugee protection division, as well as produce a transformation agenda for needed change in the governance of the Immigration and Refugee Board. I left with the minister a proposal that she could take under advisement in terms of looking at the governance of the board for the future with a new chair.
I'm also very proud to have launched the initiative of appointing decision-makers by order, based on merit. Allow me to explain why.
As you know, since its establishment in 1989 following a court decision of 1985, the IRB has been an evolving institution. The 1985 ruling gave refugee claimants the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights. This means refugees are entitled to due process through an oral hearing. The government decided that a separate, independent, quasi-judicial tribunal, accountable to Canadians through the courts and through this committee, would be the process. I mention this bit of history to underline that the IRB is still a relatively young institution. As a tribunal, it is still building its foundations.
I was very happy to have four predecessors, and I built on what they had done. I'm pretty sure that a new chair will do accordingly.
When I was appointed chairperson in December 2001, a key mandate I had was to professionalize the IRB as a tribunal so as to ensure high standards in decision-making to serve the public interest. Based on my previous experience of many years in senior positions in the field of human resource management, I proceeded to design and, with the government's consent, began operating a merit-based approach to enable the government to appoint adjudicating members to the tribunal.
I want to thank the committee for this opportunity to state these few introductory remarks. I am ready to answer questions.