Row Over Refugee Board Rookies
By TOM GODFREY
Fri, February 15, 2008
Two newly appointed members of the Immigration and Refugee board should be removed from their $112,000-a-year positions over conflicts of interest, a national lobby group says.
The Canadian Society of Immigration Practitioners (CSIP) in a letter last week to Immigration Minister Diane Finley said Toronto appointees Berto Volpentesta and Dominique Setton-Lemar should not be allowed to accept the three-year IRB postings.
Volpentesta, who is slated to start May 1, is listed as an executive director of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) and operates Cannex Immigration Specialists, on Chesswood Dr. Setton-Lemar, who is to start March 3, is listed as an investigator with CSIC.
“These nominations create a clear conflict of interest,” said CSIP chairman Nuha Nancy Salloum, whose group represents 9,120 members.
“Both appointees are still listed on the board of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, and are still working there,” Salloum said. “These two appointees cannot represent both parties at the same time, meaning the IRB and the CSIC.”
CSIC has received $1.2 million in government money since 2004, and federal guidelines prohibit them from now working for the publicly funded IRB, Salloum said.
Finley's spokesman Tim Vail refused comment yesterday. Volpentesta and Setton-Lemar also refused to return calls.
The ethics commissioner is investigating the nominations and has promised to report back, Salloum said.
Members of the IRB hear refugee claims and decide who should remain in Canada. The board, with more than 100 members, will determine 25,000 cases.