Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, members, for this opportunity to appear before your committee.
As you perhaps know, I held the position of analyst at the Library of Parliament from 2001 to 2006, and I worked with this committee during that time.
Before coming to work on the Hill, I was a lawyer in private practice in Victoria, British Columbia, where I was called to the bar. I did a fair amount of litigation, but about a third of my files involved immigration and refugee matters. I did everything from refugee claims and deportation appeals to bringing in temporary workers for local high tech employers. In my time in British Columbia I appeared before all three divisions of the IRB's Vancouver office.
I came to Ottawa in early 2000 as a result of my wife's employment and soon found contract work with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, where I prepared staff training materials on the principles of administrative law. I was hired by the Library of Parliament in May 2001.
I joined this committee just in time for the clause-by-clause consideration of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and I was the analyst responsible for assisting the committee in its subsequent study of the immigration and refugee protection regulations. I've also assisted the committee in studies on border security, overseas immigration processing, the Safe Third Country Agreement, the provincial nominee program, settlement and integration, a proposed national identity card, and Canada's citizenship laws, among other topics. So I'm excited to be back here today on the other side of the table, as it were.
In my time with the Library of Parliament I also worked for other committees, but my main assignment, apart from this committee, was as a senior analyst for the Senate Special Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act. I was with that committee for its initial study of the bill in the fall of 2001, and then again when the committee was reconstituted for the review of the legislation, beginning in 2004.
In 2006 I was successful in a competition at the Department of Justice and joined them in May of that year as legal counsel with the security, terrorism, and governance team in the criminal law policy section here in Ottawa. I was at Justice until January 7 of this year, when I began my duties as a member of the immigration appeal division of the Immigration and Refugee Board in Toronto.
I have a BA in political science from McGill, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Manitoba, and a Master's degree in international law from the University of Ottawa. For my LL.M. program my major research paper was entitled “The Harmonization of Asylum Policy in the European Union: Lessons for North America”. Incidentally, that was turned into a Library of Parliament publication that, although perhaps a bit dated now, should still be available.
I've also written or co-written other Library of Parliament publications, including background papers on Canada's immigration system and the refugee determination process. I also have some volunteer experience related to my long-standing interest in immigration issues. I was a board member of the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society for over three years. VIRCS is a non-profit centre that provides ESL, job training, and other settlement services to newcomers.
After moving to Ottawa I also took part in the Catholic Immigration Centre's host program, where Canadians are matched with new immigrants to help with the acclimatization process. It's an excellent program and one that I highly recommend.
As I mentioned, I've now been with the immigration appeal division for just over two months. My time on the board began with three weeks of full-time training. After that I began sitting on three-member panels with a more senior member presiding. I was soon given the opportunity to preside over three-member panels myself. After a couple of times doing that, I began to sit and hear appeals on my own. I've been doing that for just over a month now.
As you may know, the bulk of the IAD's caseload involves sponsorship appeals, removal order appeals--for the most part criminal removals, and appeals by permanent residents who have been found not to meet their residency obligations. There are also ministers' appeals of immigration division admissibility decisions, but those are apparently quite rare. I haven't seen one yet.
I'd be happy to respond to any questions you may have about my experience as it relates to my appointment or about the process by which I came to be on the IRB.