Canadian Refugee Procedure/Powers of a Member

Section 165 of the IRPAEdit

The legislative provision reads:

Powers of a commissioner
165 The Refugee Protection Division, the Refugee Appeal Division and the Immigration Division and each member of those Divisions have the powers and authority of a commissioner appointed under Part I of the Inquiries Act and may do any other thing they consider necessary to provide a full and proper hearing.

This legislative provision allows the Board to unilaterally adjust timelines in appropriate casesEdit

An example of this provision being relied upon is that during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Board lengthened the time period that claimants had to provide a Basis of Claim form after making a claim at the Port of Entry. The practice notice doing so cited this provision of the Act ("[The Division]...may do any other thing they consider necessary to provide a full and proper hearing") as authority for that decision, as discussed in this commentary on RPD Rule 8: Canadian Refugee Procedure/Information and Documents to be Provided#This Rule applies to applications for an extension of time, but not decisions on the Board's own motion to extend the deadline.

This provision may be cited in favour of an argument that the Board can order the Minister to facilitate the return to Canada of a claimant outside of CanadaEdit

Section 165 of the IRPA invests members of the Division with the authority of a commissioner under Part 1 of the Inquiries Act and the authority to “do any other thing they consider necessary to provide a full and proper hearing”. If a matter comes before the Division the claimant is outside of Canada, and which cannot be adjudicated over telecommunications, this provision could arguably be relied upon as authority for the proposition that the Division can order the Minister to facilitate the return of the person concerned to Canada, for example by issuing that individual a travel document. But see IRPA s. 175(2), which provides that the IAD may require an officer to issue a travel document to an individual, a provision for which there is no equivalent applicable to the RPD, which could indicate that the RPD lacks such authority.

Part I of the Inquiries ActEdit

The complete text of Part I of the Inquiries Act reads:

Public Inquiries

2 The Governor in Council may, whenever the Governor in Council deems it expedient, cause inquiry to be made into and concerning any matter connected with the good government of Canada or the conduct of any part of the public business thereof.

Appointment of commissioners
3 Where an inquiry as described in section 2 is not regulated by any special law, the Governor in Council may, by a commission, appoint persons as commissioners by whom the inquiry shall be conducted.

Powers of commissioners concerning evidence
4 The commissioners have the power of summoning before them any witnesses, and of requiring them to
(a) give evidence, orally or in writing, and on oath or, if they are persons entitled to affirm in civil matters on solemn affirmation; and
(b) produce such documents and things as the commissioners deem requisite to the full investigation of the matters into which they are appointed to examine.

Idem, enforcement
5 The commissioners have the same power to enforce the attendance of witnesses and to compel them to give evidence as is vested in any court of record in civil cases.

These provisions allow a panel to compel testimony and the production of evidenceEdit

As stated in the text The Conduct of Public Inquiries, the central procedural feature of the Inquiries Act is to "authorize commissioners to compel testimony and the production of evidence".[1] The Board will exercise its power to summon individuals through the framework of Rules 44-48: Canadian Refugee Procedure/Witnesses. For a discussion of the Board's power to summon documents, see Canada v. Kahlon.[2]

Part III of the Inquiries ActEdit

Part III of the Inquiries Act is a general provision that applies to commissioners with powers under Part I, as well as to commissioners appointed under Part II of the Act (which is not relevant to IRB Board Members):


Employment of counsel, experts and assistants
11 (1) The commissioners, whether appointed under Part I or under Part II, may, if authorized by the commission issued in the case, engage the services of
(a) such accountants, engineers, technical advisers or other experts, clerks, reporters and assistants as they deem necessary or advisable; and
(b) counsel to aid and assist the commissioners in an inquiry.

Experts may take evidence and report
(2) The commissioners may authorize and depute any accountants, engineers, technical advisers or other experts, the services of whom are engaged under subsection (1), or any other qualified persons, to inquire into any matter within the scope of the commission as may be directed by the commissioners.

(3) The persons deputed under subsection (2), when authorized by order in council, have the same powers as the commissioners have to take evidence, issue subpoenas, enforce the attendance of witnesses, compel them to give evidence, and otherwise conduct the inquiry.

(4) The persons deputed under subsection (2) shall report the evidence and their findings, if any, thereon to the commissioners.

Parties may employ counsel
12 The commissioners may allow any person whose conduct is being investigated under this Act, and shall allow any person against whom any charge is made in the course of an investigation, to be represented by counsel.

Notice to persons charged
13 No report shall be made against any person until reasonable notice has been given to the person of the charge of misconduct alleged against him and the person has been allowed full opportunity to be heard in person or by counsel.


  1. Ratushny, Ed, The Conduct of Public Inquiries: Law, Policy and Practice, Released 2009/09/28, Irwin Law: Toronto, online eBook:, page 301.
  2. Canada (Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness) v. Kahlon, [2005] F.C.J. No. 1335, [2006] 3 F.C.R. 493 (F.C.).