P.E.I. Pursues Immigration Program

P.E.I. pursues immigration program

CBC News
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The P.E.I. government says it is negotiating with Ottawa to bring back an immigration program popular with Island businesses.

The business community says a new provincial nominee program is desperately needed.

But Opposition Leader Olive Crane says a new program shouldnt be set up until problems with the old one are resolved.

That nominee program matched foreign investors who wanted to immigrate to Canada with P.E.I. companies they could invest in. In return for their investment, applicants would have their immigration application expedited.

The program, which operated from 2001 to 2008, attracted controversy when it became public that 2,000 potential immigrants were pushed through the program in its final year. Companies owned by MLAs and senior civil servants received program money, and there were also questions about the quality of the companies approved for investment.

Sean Casey of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce suggested the controversy has nothing to do with the concerns of business.

Whatever the issues are that are causing there to be so much play and controversy aren’t issues that are relevant to the bottom line of business owners, Casey said.

P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allan Campbell says he is being lobbied for a new program.

Campbell said the government is evaluating nominee programs from across Canada to determine which one might work well for P.E.I.

But Crane said the government of Premier Robert Ghiz should deal first with problems in the first nominee program.

The Ghiz government has to deal with all the mismanagement in the program in order for the general public and the federal government to be reassured that this time around they will live up to the rules under the agreement, she said.

Liberal MLAs have stymied several attempts by the Progressive Conservative Party to bring out information about the provincial nominee program through the public accounts committee.

Back in November, the provincial NDP launched an online campaign to pressure the ruling Liberal government to hold a public inquiry into the program.