What are friends for, one of my colleagues across the way asks. I guess that is the attitude over there. It shows itself to be that, given the fact that they are all Liberals. Most of them do not really seem to have any other qualifications.
Eighteen hundred appointments have been made into these quasi-judicial bodies by the present government. That is out of 2,225. The bill states that 271 jobs will be eliminated. Wow. Out of 2,225 appointments 271 jobs will be eliminated.
Let us look at the facts. Those 271 jobs were not there anyway. They were vacant positions for the most part. In some cases some of these boards will no longer exist. The fact still remains that too many of these appointments take away accountability from the minister.
Let us get back to the former minister of immigration. The new minister does not say anything really different. I have heard that minister say very similar things when asked about a decision the board has made. "It is out of my hands" the minister will say. Whose hands is it in? Is some non-elected entity making decisions that impact on the taxpayers and in some cases their safety, if we want to reflect to the National Parole Board? That is happening.
Decisions are being made by quasi-judicial bodies because ministers no longer are accountable for those decisions, they say. Let us look behind the scenes now of both the Immigration and Refugee Board and the parole board.
A whole industry feeds off these two boards. The parole board costs $25,163,000 to run. That is just the surface cost. The National Parole Board is not quite as expensive but certainly comes close. It is in the neighbourhood of $70 to $80 million to run each year.
There is the decision process that is impacting on people. Look at the uproar. When Reform first came into the House in 1994 we attacked the parole board because of the decisions that were being made. People were dying as a result of that quasi-judicial body, an unelected group of people who had no concern really for what was happening in the community.
It is only due to the pressure of the Reform Party that anything was changed. Even then the changes were superficial. The Immigration and Refugee Board has been ripped right out of the hands of the public. They have no say on how decisions are being made and no one to really go to and say to the minister: "You made a bad decision there". He says he is not accountable any more.
As a result, there is a great rage that sort of turns around and around in the public's mind about both the parole board and the refugee board operate. They are not doing their job. The refugee board is taking good positions away from individuals who would rather immigrate here and try to go through the process in a legal way as opposed to ones that the refugee board allows. For the most
part, those positions are being filled in an illegal way: people coming here and claiming status knowing full well that they are not legitimate claimants.
In conclusion, if we are to gain any respect or consideration back in Parliament regarding both the parole board and the Immigration and Refugee Board, we could well look at scrapping both of those boards. Their duties should be put closer to the people, the immigration department for the Immigration and Refugee Board and in merit release committees that will deal with parole issues because they would be a lot closer to the community.