Mr. Speaker, this whole aspect of tribunals, administrative tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies, has been the subject of much debate in this House. If one looks to the very near past, one such debate centred around the Immigration and Refugee Board.
A fundamental question has to be asked about the existence of these boards. What they really seem to do is take accountability away from the minister and the department that have these particular types of board.
I know, Mr. Speaker, you were sitting on the other side of the House here and often this debate would rage around the Immigration and Refugee Board and the abuses that took place. Many of the people who were appointed were, to put it mildly, Liberal supporters of the party. They were dumped in there because somebody owed them a favour. That was and still is, I might point out, the whole essence of the Immigration and Refugee Board. It is an entity that should not even exist as far as I am concerned.
However, a fundamental question must be asked regarding the establishment of these administrative tribunals. What is the real purpose of each board and why does it exist?
I have spoken often in the House and asked several questions of ministers. In particular I will reflect on the former immigration minister since I was a critic at that time, and put questions on accountability to him. What would his reply be? His reply was consistently the same. "I am sorry but that quasi-judicial body out there was put into place for a good reason," he said. That good reason, according to the minister, was that he did not have to make the decisions any more. It was just an entity in which he had no say or could make no statement on how an outcome or decision was to be made.
We have seen the decisions that the board has made. Who are the board members? For the most part they are Liberal and Conservative friends. They are owed a favour and are stuffed into this highly paid job. The job pays $86,400 a year. That is $20,000 more than parliamentarians make on their basic salary. There is something wrong with the system when that form of patronage exists.
The decisions and results of the board impact not only on the taxpayer who has to pay the bill but on the whole immigration process. It brings the whole matter into disrepute. In fact, the decisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board bring the immigration policy and process into disrepute.
I will digress from the Immigration and Refugee Board, and address something in this bill. This bill is supposed to be a wonderful, cost saving effort on the part of the government to deal with the patronage issue. However, I do not see it that way at all, not when we look at the availability of the number of appointments that can be made. There are 2,225 available positions to put friends into. Both past Liberal and Conservative governments and again today the present Liberal government have been packing that particular board again with a bunch of friends.