Disliking P.E.I. Decisions, Adviser To Immigration Program Resigns

Disliking P.E.I. decisions, adviser to immigration program resigns

Last updated at 8:18 AM on 08/01/09

CHARLOTTETOWN—-A senior adviser with a controversial immigration program on P.E.I. says he has resigned his post over what he believes were bad decisions made by the province.

Gordon Cobb was seconded from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, or ACOA, to work on the Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP.

He was asked to address changes made to the regulations from the federal government, announced in March and April of 2008, which came into effect Sept. 2.

These changes tightened up the laws surrounding investments. P.E.I. had found a loophole in the regulation definitions in 2007 to allow passive investment by foreign nationals into P.E.I. businesses through the PNP.

Provincial Nominee Programs were never intended to allow passive investment, and when the federal government realized the loophole, they tightened their rules.

But the province was opposed to the regulatory changes and lobbied the federal government to allow P.E.I.s program to remain at status quo.

Cobb said provincial Innovation Minister Richard Brown asked him for advice on what to do to address these regulatory changes.

It appears the advice clearly was not followed and quite a different direction was followed, Cobb said.

Thats why Cobb left the department to return to ACOA. He has also gone to the auditor general with his concerns.

I couldnt continue to work on the PNP or touch the PNP. I just couldnt carry on doing work that wasnt what I would call a constructive, proactive process with the federal government on the PNP partnership program.

Premier Robert Ghiz said Cobbs comments are merely those of a disgruntled employee.

Its unfortunate that we have a disgruntled employee who is upset basically because his advice wasnt taken, Ghiz said.

These things happen in the running of a government. Mr. Cobb is entitled to his opinions and of course he doesnt have all the information. The auditor general will have all the information and will base his analysis on facts, and were still looking forward to the auditor generals report.

Cobbs concerns stem from the way the province dealt with the federal government and Citizenship and Immigration Canadas regulatory changes.

When federal officials refused to allow P.E.I.s nominee program to continue with a passive investment model, Cobb said the province could have worked with Citizenship and Immigration to design a new and better program for P.E.I.

This is what he advised Brown to do.

He also urged Brown to implement recommendations from an independent consultants report, commissioned by the department.

That report, done by a firm called Emanote, contained sound solutions to enhance P.E.I.s nominee program while also working with the federal government, Cobb said.

After that advice was not followed, then I really wasnt involved in the file, formally, Cobb said.