Board’s Hiring Of “Dr. No” Despite Controversial Past Statements Raises Questions Of IRB Hiring Process
A former Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Member who gained notoriety over comments about refugees in 2001 was re-hired in late December 2018, according to a Global News report.
Dubbed “Dr. No” for the volume of cases he denied, Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk was an IRB Board Member between 1996 and 1998, who claimed he denied over 90% of all cases he heard.
In 2001 Dr. Luciuk made waves with an opinion piece that appeared in major Canadian newspapers titled “How ‘Refugees’ and Terrorists Get Into Canada,” in which he was highly critical of refugee claims made in Canada and Canada’s asylum system. Among other anti-immigrant sentiments, Dr. Luciuk wrote that “If the IRB continues to operate as it has, then just about anyone and everyone who wants to get into Canada will.”
In a 2015 commentary piece for the National Post, Dr. Luciuk expressed further critiques of Canada’s asylum system, cautioning against rushing claimants through and speaking in favour of taking a common sense approach that puts Canada’s needs first, as was done with his parents and other displaced persons. Dr. Luciuk is himself the child of refugee parents who fled both Soviet and Nazi occupations in Ukraine.
Despite Dr. Luciuk’s public comments, the IRB re-hired him in late 2018 as part of the Board’s Legacy Task Force. This Task Force is comprised of retired Board Members to provide dedicated support to the substantive elimination of the asylum claim backlog.
In a statement to Global News, IRB spokesperson Anna Pape said that Dr. Luciuk was re-hired following “a review of his past performance” and “after several members of the task force recommended him.” Despite this, the IRB is also conducting an internal review of its hiring process following questions about Luciuk’s past comments.
“The article was written many years ago and references a refugee determination system that has undergone significant change,” Pape added. “In any event, the IRB does not support the content or tone of that article.”
When reached for comment, Dr. Luciuk said the article in question “was written in a particular context, very different from present-day circumstances … [the IRB is] not the same board I experienced two decades ago.”
Regardless of Dr. Luciuk’s change in tone and stance, refugee claimants deserve to appear before an impartial tribunal. As Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal, the IRB must ensure Board Members are impartial, as their decisions have a direct impact on the integrity of Canada’s refugee program and the lives of the persons appearing before them.