A member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has been suspended after a woman accused him of trying to trade sex for a favourable ruling.

The chairman of the board issued a statement yesterday citing "very serious" allegations of misconduct against former Toronto councillor and patronage appointee Steve Ellis. Jean-Guy Fleury did not identify the person involved but he was named by CTV News.

"Let me see what I can do. I'm going to work on it. I really want to be friends with you," he tells her while they sit at an outdoor table.

According to the woman who lodged the complaint, it was Mr. Ellis's power over her as an IRB member that made her feel she couldn't resist his invitation for coffee.

On the tape, the man warned the woman that if they did have an affair, they would have to be careful, and she wouldn't want to tell her boyfriend in case he caused problems.

Mr. Ellis was appointed to the IRB in 2000 by the federal Liberal government. He was described last night by one Toronto immigration lawyer as "fairly popular" and someone liked by most of the lawyers who argued before him.

Before the federal appointment, Mr. Ellis served on Toronto city council. A descendent of Peter Matthews, one of two people hanged for participation in the 1837 rebellion, he was a two-term politician in Toronto's premegacity days.

He was remembered for his fights and his antics. He opposed smoking restrictions, island airport expansion plans and bicycle lanes on College Street.

On one memorable occasion he had to be dragged out of Metro Hall after lying on the carpet in an apparent protest against the proposed market-value assessment.

His presence at council ended with the 1997 election. He ran a distant fourth in the first election for the new megacity and vanished from the municipal scene.

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