P.E.I. NDP Leader Mike Redmond is calling on government to release details of how companies that benefitted from the Provincial Nominee Program spent their immigrant funds.
Redmond held a news conference in Charlottetown Monday, saying he believes the public has a right to know whether investments made through the PNP were used appropriately.
“Without transparency, there is no accountability. Otherwise, we are open to a system that allows payouts to party supporters,” Redmond said.
He accused the government of using the immigrant investor program as a means of patronage to allow those with ties to the Liberal party to benefit financially.
He pointed to one company in particular that benefitted from the program – a numbered company registered federally that includes on its list of directors Liberal MP Sean Casey and Spencer Campbell, who worked on Premier Robert Ghiz’s 2011 election campaign.
Casey was not yet a member of Parliament when this company received PNP funds and the company in question has since been amalgamated into another business.
“We demand that the government explain, in detail, why huge amounts of money seem to have ended up in companies with close affiliation to the Liberal government.”
Casey’s office issued a statement later in the day Monday in response to Redmond’s remarks.
It pointed out the numbered company, now called South Shore Villa Inc., received PNP funds in 2008 – well before Casey was elected MP for Charlottetown in 2011.
Also, because his wife is a provincial MLA and the speaker of the House at the time, he disclosed information about his involvement in the PNP to P.E.I.’s conflict of interest commissioner.
Casey said he has never attempted to withhold this information.
“I would have been happy to discuss my business interests with Mike Redmond had he given me a call,” Casey said.
“I take my job very seriously and have worked to bring transparency to my job. I want to assure my constituents that South Shore Villa received funding before I ran for office in 2011 and that I own a minority share in the company.”
But Redmond says he believes there is still a great deal of information that continues to be withheld regarding the controversial Provincial Nominee Program.
He highlighted a recommendation from auditor general Colin Younker’s 2009 investigation into the PNP. Younker noted no follow up procedures were in place to ensure businesses were spending their investment funds as stipulated in the Use of Proceeds Agreements they signed.
Younker recommended Island Investment Development Inc., the agency that ran the PNP, develop a strategy to follow up on businesses that received PNP units and to include the results in its annual report. He also pointed out the initial files subject to the Use of Proceeds Agreement would be due in the fall of 2009.
Redmond said Monday he is highly concerned that years have passed and this information is still not available.
He also raised concern over the lack of attention to the PNP in the legislature this session.
So far, the issue has only been alluded to briefly and the Opposition Tories have not raised questions about it during question period, as they have in the past.
Redmond called this a ‘conspiracy of silence.’
“The silence on PNP has been deafening,” he told reporters today.
“The legislature session is now two weeks old and there’s been no real debate on the Provincial Nominee Program... the NDP will not stand for this silence.”