No New Immigration Program For P.E.I : Shea

No new immigration program for P.E.I.: Shea

CBC News
Last Updated: Friday, January 8, 2010 | 8:18 PM AT
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Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, responsible for P.E.I. in the federal cabinet, said Friday that there have been no discussions about restarting the Island's immigrant investors program.

“I'm not aware of any discussions that have been going on between the province and Ottawa on this program,” Shea said.

“But I am quite certain there have been no discussions on any program similar to the one P.E.I. had up until September 2008 because that program no longer exists. It's not available to any province.”

That contradicts a four-page, point-by-point statement on federal-provincial discussions on the provincial nominee program released by the P.E.I. government late Friday that said discussions have been ongoing around other categories to the program.

The statement was an attempt to counteract a growing political storm around Innovation Minister Allan Campbell who last week said negotiations were underway on a new provincial nominee investor program, and he hoped a new one would be in place this year.

“I've had had senior staff from [Island Investment Development Inc.] that have had those discussions with the senior bureaucrats from Ottawa,” Campbell told CBC-TV's Compass.

Campbell and Premier Robert Ghiz have made similar comments in the legislature over the past year.

But in an email dated Jan. 5, Karen Shadd, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said there have been no negotiations.

“P.E.I. has not discussed the creation of any new categories [under the provincial nominee program] with us,” Shadd wrote.

Opposition Leader Olive Crane said the government is trying to create its own confusion around the program, and is not dealing with the program itself.

“This minister is obviously lying to us and is showing that he's not competent on this file. The reason why I say that, he's been telling business that he's been working on a new immigration investor program. There is nothing here to show that they are working on that,” she said.

The previous immigrant investment program ended in September 2008 and remains embroiled in controversy. Government MLAs and senior civil servants took advantage of immigrant investment, and Citizenship and Immigration complained about the quality of companies approved for investment.

That 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.