BY WAYNE CARVER
Thank you, Canada Border Services Agency for doing what our provincial law enforcement officials couldn’t. Islanders have known the PNP was mismanaged for years. The secrecy of the existence of the program at the outset and politically linked disbursement of PNP funds could not be justified.
Unfortunately, our provincial executive refused to deal with the issue. Why? Well that is another matter. Regardless, Islanders could never get any satisfaction when concerns were expressed about the program.
The latest revelation about 566 fraudulent claims associated with two Island addresses comes as no surprise. Why our provincial immigration officials did not pick up on this is concerning and why the federal police force was not able to find this information is confusing. It seems it took only a records check. Because of an expensive watch found upon inspection at immigration point of entry in Halifax, an alert, intuitive investigator, concerned about a customs violation, discovered a big immigration fraud case right here on P.E.I. Why could local authorities not have done that?
Many people were and are concerned with the mismanagement committed under the pretence of growing our economy. Requests of the federal police force to investigate the program were met with weak responses claiming there was not enough evidence to proceed with any criminal charges. Citizens were and are skeptical at best, believing the political climate prevented any meaningful investigation.
Unfortunately, incidents such as this do not enhance the image of our law enforcement and oversight agencies.
Why, you might ask, did it take CBSA in Halifax to uncover this little scheme. Well to begin with, it is a different legal jurisdiction and the CBSA did not have to apprise the government or attorney general of P.E.I. of their investigation. What this revelation means in essence, is that our provincial government was and is prepared to accept irregularities in the immigration process because it enabled government to collect $18 million in fraudulent immigration claims. Did our officials know about this; it is hard to think otherwise?
Money such as this may have attributed to IIDI’s corporate fund of $355 million which our government uses to support economic initiatives. What happens with funds of this nature is unclear because IIDI is considered to be a corporate entity and not accountable to the taxpayer.
Political manipulation of government programs by the few is a discredit to the political process. It undermines the basic tenets of good government and due process.
The opposition parties should be working together and requesting that the lieutenant governor dissolve the assembly because the people have lost confidence in the ruling Liberal government.
The first order of any new government should be to table a motion to make the attorney general of the province an elected member of the legislative assembly, similar to the auditor general. Maybe then the citizens of P.E.I. will have a government that is more open and transparent; a government that is accountable and subject to the same rules and regulations as the average citizen.
- Wayne Carver of Long Creek is a member of Vision P.E.I.; supports electoral reform; and comments frequently on social issues