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Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon and Liberal critic for Economic Development Gary McRobb

Minister may have fallen into ‘a Chinese scam'

An e-mail from Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon has raised questions about his influencing officials,

By Jason Unrau on March 17, 2011

An e-mail from Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon has raised questions about his influencing officials, and his remarks in the legislative assembly on Wednesday suggest he may have sent the message to a con artist.

Kenyon made the comments during question period after Gary McRobb, the Liberal critic for Economic Development, said Kenyon interfered in a program sponsoring foreigners to establish a business in the Yukon.

"This program has tight guidelines and stringent criteria ... the screening process, which includes the officials, must be seen as objective and completely free of political influence,” said McRobb.

"Why, then, did this minister tell his officials that a certain applicant would easily qualify?”

McRobb's queries arose from an Feb. 3, 2010 e-mail CHON-FM radio reporter Dan Jones obtained from an access-to-information request.

In the e-mail, Kenyon writes a representative for a potential Yukon Business Nominee Program applicant, indicating that the representative's client "would easily qualify.”

The Economic Development minister ends the e-mail, copied to deputy minister Harvey Brooks and the department's business development director, Danny Kobayashi, with an invitation to let him know "if I can be of any specific help.”

Kenyon did not respond to an interview request from the Star.

In the legislature, he described his e-mail as a courtesy, then admitted the correspondence may have gone to a disingenuous source.

"The information was given to the person who is purporting to be a lawyer in Vancouver, who I have since found out is not a member of the B.C. Bar Association and has no credentials in British Columbia,” Kenyon said.

"This is a common Chinese scam.”

But McRobb characterized the entire situation as serious, and demanded full disclosure.

"This minister should be very worried about being perceived as overstepping his bounds with respect to this matter by interfering politically in this process,” McRobb added.

Since 2004, Economic Development has been recommending that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) provide temporary work and residency visas to those who qualify for the Yukon Business Nominee Program.

Operating under an agreement with Ottawa, the program allows the Yukon government to nominate foreigners with a desire to own a business in the territory for requisite visa approval from CIC.

Among the qualifications, applicants must have five years of senior management or entrepreneurial experience, have a net worth of $250,000 (Cnd), minimum liquid assets of $150,000 and be willing to own 33.3 per cent of a proposed or established business.

Terry Hayden, assistant deputy minister of Economic Development, said applicants are screened first by the department, and "if a number of criteria are satisfied, we will recommend to CIC that that applicant receive a two-year work permit.”

From there, the applicant must implement his or her business plan, and if that is successful, Economic Development will recommend to CIC grant a residency permit.

To date, Economic Development has forwarded approximately one-third of 30 Yukon Business Nominee Program applications to CIC for a work permit approval, said Hayden.

As well, nine business program nominees in the territory have qualified for their residency permits, based on performance during their two-year work visas.

Hayden declined to comment on Kenyon's e-mail.

"I can't characterize the meaning of somebody else's e-mail,” Hayden said.

"What I can say is Canada is a popular place to immigrate to, so we constantly get a lot of contacts coming to our office.”

Comments (2)

Up 0 Down 0

redbed on Mar 21, 2011 at 2:16 am

Given the right-wing politics of YP it's no surprise that China is their favorite trade partner. They will bend over forwards and backwards to Kow-Tow, and will be known as Canada's China Concubine. YP is an ethically rudderless ship of fools.

Up 0 Down 0

JC on Mar 17, 2011 at 7:16 am

Here we go again!

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