PO­LIT­I­CAL CON­NEC­TIONS

Court doc­u­ment al­leges links to the Lib­eral Party of Prince Ed­ward Is­land trumped ex­pe­ri­ence in PNP ap­point­ments

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD

Court doc­u­ment al­leges links to the Lib­eral Party of Prince Ed­ward Is­land trumped ex­pe­ri­ence in PNP ap­point­ments

As­sess­ments to choose the prov­ince’s PNP in­ter­me­di­aries were con­ducted in­con­sis­tently, with sev­eral of the suc­cess­ful pro­po­nents show­ing lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in im­mi­gra­tion yet hav­ing own­er­ship “dom­i­nantly in­volved” in the Lib­eral Party of Prince Ed­ward Is­land, al­leges an af­fi­davit filed in Supreme Court.

Eric Ellsworth, a for­mer set­tle­ment, in­te­gra­tion and re­ten­tion of­fi­cer with the prov­ince and cur­rent pres­i­dent of Canada-Ask Im­mi­gra­tion and In­vest­ments Ser­vices Inc., filed an af­fi­davit in P.E.I.’s Supreme Court last month in a le­gal dis­pute be­tween H.P. Con­sult­ing Inc. and the Is­land In­vest­ment De­vel­op­ment In­cor­po­rated (IIDI).

H.P. Con­sult­ing Inc. and Canada-Ask were un­suc­cess­ful pro­po­nents in a re­quest for pro­posal is­sued by IIDI last July.

In the af­fi­davit, Ellsworth states he was told dur­ing a de­brief­ing with IIDI agents fol­low­ing the se­lec­tion that com­pany ex­pe­ri­ence was not con­sid­ered in the as­sess­ments, con­trary to the RFP.

“The propo­si­tion was that award­ing points for ex­pe­ri­ence would be un­fair to newly es­tab­lished com­pa­nies with lit­tle or no ex­pe­ri­ence,” Ellsworth’s state­ment reads. “The firms which had not been ac­tive in im­mi­gra­tion prior to the RFP have own­er­ship dom­i­nantly in­volved in the Lib­eral Party of Prince Ed­ward Is­land.”

Ellsworth de­clined an in­ter­view with The Guardian but stated he felt “H.P. Con­sult­ing af­ter 13 years of ser­vice in the field of im­mi­gra­tion was treated un­fairly.”

Much of the af­fi­davit sup­ports state­ments made by H.P. Con­sult­ing in a le­gal ac­tion the com­pany filed last year calling the process un­law­ful and ask­ing for a ju­di­cial review. The com­pany says gov­ern­ment vi­o­lated terms listed in the RFP and favoured com­pa­nies with po­lit­i­cal and per­sonal ties to gov­ern­ment. A pro­vin­cial spokesper­son de­clined to pro­vide an up­date be­cause the is­sue is still be­fore the courts.

There ap­pears to be no hear­ing cur­rently sched­uled.

IIDI re­sponded by fil­ing a record in Supreme Court ear­lier this year. It states H.P. Con­sult­ing failed a ser­vice of­fer­ings cat­e­gory fo­cus­ing on pro­vin­cial ob­jec­tives.

H.P. Con­sult­ing, which says it achieved high re­ten­tion rates for the PNP dur­ing its 13 years as an in­ter­me­di­ary, was the only one of seven orig­i­nal agents not re-ap­pointed fol­low­ing the RFP.

Ellsworth’s af­fi­davit states scor­ing was con­ducted in­con­sis­tently in the ap­pli­ca­tion. It states while H.P. con­sul­tants, which had staff who speak English, French and Man­darin, the com­pany was scored lower or equal to other agents in lan­guage.

It also states that while a de­sired ru­ral pres­ence was not dis­closed in the RFP, it ap­peared some of the suc­cess­ful pro­po­nents were awarded ex­tra points just for stat­ing an “in­ten­tion to es­tab­lish a ru­ral of­fice.”

Ellsworth said the RFP also did not state ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil would be con­sulted in re­spect to the RFP award or make the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion.

The RFP’s call was for 10 Is­land agents to serve a five-year term. Ul­ti­mately, 12 agents were ap­pointed through ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil with half of them be­ing new in­ter­me­di­aries.

The af­fi­davit lists sev­eral suc­cess­ful pro­po­nents it says has Lib­eral ties, in­clud­ing Mazu Con­sor­tium as in­clud­ing Ger­ard Watts, who was re­ferred to in the leg­is­la­ture by PC MLA Brad Trivers as Premier Wade MacLauch­lan’s “neigh­bour and dog walker.” MacLauch­lan and Watts pre­vi­ously served on North Shore Com­mu­nity Coun­cil to­gether.

An­other pro­po­nent, Aim 4 Inc., in­cludes for­mer Lib­eral Party of P.E.I. Leader Wayne Carew as a share-holder and vice-pres­i­dent.

The Guardian pre­vi­ously re­ported one of the new pro­po­nents, Western Im­mi­gra­tion Op­por­tu­ni­ties Inc., was not in­cor­po­rated at the time it was ap­pointed an agent. Neil Han­dra­han, trea­surer of the Lib­eral Party of P.E.I., was one of the com­pany’s share­hold­ers.

When con­tacted by The Guardian last De­cem­ber, a lawyer with Hal­i­fax firm BoyneClark, which rep­re­sents IIDI, pro­vided a writ­ten state­ment that said, “po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion was in no way a con­sid­er­a­tion in this process” while ac­knowl­edg­ing po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions ex­isted among some of the ap­proved in­ter­me­di­aries.

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