PNP red flag: Trivers

Com­pany not yet in­cor­po­rated ap­proved as im­mi­gra­tion agent

Journal Pioneer - - THE ISLAND - BY TERESA WRIGHT

One of the new in­ter­me­di­ary com­pa­nies ap­proved under Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s Pro­vin­cial Nom­i­nee Pro­gram is not yet an in­cor­po­rated com­pany. Western Im­mi­gra­tion Op­por­tu­ni­ties Inc. is one of 12 new and re­turn­ing in­ter­me­di­aries un­veiled by the prov­ince ear­lier this month as part of a re­vamped ap­proach to the nom­i­nee pro­gram, known as the PNP.

But Western Im­mi­gra­tion Op­por­tu­ni­ties Inc. is nei­ther an in­cor­po­rated en­tity under the P.E.I. cor­po­rate reg­istry nor an in­cor­po­rated fed­er­ally. A spokesman for In­no­va­tion P.E.I. says the com­pany is listed as “to be in­cor­po­rated”, which was per­mis­si­ble under a sec­tion of the ten­der is­sued for the in­ter­me­di­ary com­pa­nies. “This com­pany would have demon­strated their abil­ity to de­liver the ser­vices under the RFP process. We look for­ward to work­ing with this new com­pany as we move for­ward with the changes to our poli­cies,” the spokesman said.

The share­hold­ers in Western Im­mi­gra­tion Op­por­tu­ni­ties Inc. are Troy Bradley, Neil Han­dra­han and Car­rie Ricker. Bradley and Han­dra­han are se­nior part­ners of the firm Bradley Han­dra­han Char­tered Pro­fes­sional Ac­coun­tants. This firm was not the one ap­proved under the PNP, but it does list the “P.E.I. nom­i­nee pro­gram” and im­mi­grant in­vest­ment and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties among its list of ser­vices on its cor­po­rate web­site.

The prov­ince is­sued an RFP for new PNP in­ter­me­di­aries, also known as agents, whose job it is to iden­tify and at­tract po­ten­tial im­mi­grants to P.E.I. and help them with the ap­pli­ca­tion process. For this work, the in­ter­me­di­aries re­ceive a fee.

Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Heath Mac­Don­ald said last week a key fac­tor in the ap­proval of firms cho­sen as in­ter­me­di­aries was that they have a pres­ence in ru­ral parts of the prov­ince in an ef­fort to at­tract and re­tain more im­mi­grants to ru­ral P.E.I.

The de­part­ment spokesman said at least one of the share­hold­ers in Western Im­mi­gra­tion Op­por­tu­ni­ties Inc. has at least three years with di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence in im­mi­gra­tion and that “all have ex­pe­ri­ence in ru­ral P.E.I. or are from ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.”

But, Op­po­si­tion MLA Brad Trivers notes one of the share­hold­ers, Neil Han­dra­han, is also cur­rently the trea­surer of the gov­ern­ing Lib­eral party of P.E.I.

He says he finds this con­nec­tion trou­bling, es­pe­cially given the controversial his­tory of the Pro­vin­cial Nom­i­nee Pro­gram in P.E.I.

“We know that the PNP his­tory has seen a lot of gov­ern­ment mis­man­age­ment, but we’ve also see that in­ter­me­di­aries stand to typ­i­cally make a lot of money, and I just want to make sure this isn’t just an­other case of friends of gov­ern­ment be­com­ing wealthy through a gov­ern­ment pro­gram,” Trivers said.

He says im­mi­gra­tion pro­grams like the PNP should be solely fo­cused on at­tract­ing in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to set­tle long-term in P.E.I. to help grow the pop­u­la­tion and the econ­omy.

“It shouldn’t be about trad­ing com­pa­nies to fun­nel funds into the friends of gov­ern­ment’s pock­ets. That would be the red flag, the hairs that stand up on the back of my neck, when I see a new com­pany be­ing in­cor­po­rated as an in­ter­me­di­ary where the cur­rent trea­surer of the Lib­eral party is one of the prin­ci­pals.

There’s too many dots not to con­nect them.”

The In­no­va­tion P.E.I. spokesman said gov­ern­ment would not “de­bate the mer­its of each com­pany ap­proved.”

“There were cri­te­ria clearly laid out in the RFP and the ap­proved com­pa­nies met those cri­te­ria best.”

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