Tory candidate's access to Kenney questioned
There are allegations in the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale that Conservative Party candidate Parm Gill has inappropriate access to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Brampton has a large South Asian population, so the ability to get visas for family members of voters is an issue in the riding.
Liberal candidate Ruby Dhalla accused Gill, a businessman and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, of setting himself up as Kenney's official delegate on visas and suggests someone in his office must be tipping off her rival after she's submitted official visa requests.
Statement from Parm Gill Campaign sent to CBC News after our request for an on-camera interview.
Brampton-Springdale is a very diverse riding. I am proud of the fact that when newcomers ask my volunteers for information on the immigration system, whether it's wait times in different categories or where to find an immigration lawyer or representative, we have helped them find that publicly-available information. This demonstrates my commitment to the people of Brampton-Springdale.
These volunteers are not paid - contrary to false allegations by my Liberal opponent - and they do not provide any information that is not already publicly available.
Also, I have never been employed by Minister Kenney, or anyone else in the federal government.
There have also been accusations from my political opponents that I have traveled on government trips and made announcements on behalf of the Conservative government. This is categorically false. I travel to India on a regular basis like many Indo-Canadians. In January 2009 and September 2010, I visited India at my own expense. Those two trips coincided with visits by Minister Jason Kenney. I attended public events and also had a chance to have some photos with him. I consider Minister Kenney a very good friend. However, my Liberal opponent has misled voters and is falsely alleging that I traveled to India on taxpayer money and even made announcements on behalf of the Conservative government. This is false.
However as a Conservative candidate I am obviously very proud of the accomplishments of the Harper government and am running on the accomplishments of the government. This mudslinging by my Liberal opponent is both false and a reflection of her desperate needs to divert attention from her record of controversies.
"In those cases the families have been called before even I was notified, that had they had been accepted and approved by the minister's office and they were called by Parm Gill," said Dhalla.
As for proof, Dhalla said people are too afraid to come forward and speak publicly.
Kenney, who has visited the riding to speak during the election campaign, was asked about the accusations, and responded: "That's completely ridiculous, you know, she's a Liberal MP who's under a lot of pressure, and of course she's going to make unfounded and ridiculous accusations."
There's a reason why they are going to Mr. Gill for that advice, said Kenney on a conference call with South Asian journalists.
"It's because they can't get any service from their member of Parliament and that's one of the reasons why I think Parm Gill should be elected member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale."
Kenney told CBC that if "their own MP isn't providing them with the services and the advice that they require on technical issues on immigration then that's a problem.
"So Mr. Gill has every right as a private citizen to provide volunteer unpaid advice. I understand he has taken no payment for that. He has never claimed to represent the government or me, but he's just providing a volunteer service and that's totally legitimate."
At a sporting event in February, Gill said: "I have approximately three people assisting me; they are full time just taking calls and helping me process….immigration files or anything else."
In January 2009, Kenney made an official government trip to India, where he was pictured with Gill, who was asked about the trip during a candidates' debate in the riding.
"I was not in India on any government-sponsored trips. I was in India on a private business," said Gill.
"Mr. Gill came as did other Canadians with different backgrounds and attended some public events," said Kenney of the trip.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says Kenney shouldn't show favouritism.
"You can't politicize the immigration function when the immigration minister holds the key to Canada's immigration kingdom in any case," said Kurland.
Gill was not available for an interview.