Dhalla asks auditor general to investigate Kenney

Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal candidate in the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale, has asked the auditor general to investigate the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration over allegations Minister Jason Kenney gave inappropriate access to Conservative Party candidate Parm Gill.
Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla says her Conservative opponent has inappropriate access to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. John Lancaster reports. 2:52

Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal candidate in the Ontario riding of Brampton-Springdale, has asked the auditor general to investigate the Citizenship and Immigration Department over allegations its minister, Jason Kenney, gave inappropriate access to Conservative Party candidate Parm Gill.

Dhalla said at a news conference Wednesday she wants Auditor General Sheila Fraser to investigate the relationship between Kenney and Gill, who is also running in Brampton-Springdale, an area with a large South Asian population.

Dhalla's request comes after she accused Gill, a businessman and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, of setting himself up as Kenney's official delegate on visas.

She suggested someone in Kenny's office has been tipping off her rival after she's submitted official visa requests.

Photos published on Gill's  campaign website also show Gill alongside Kenney during an official trip to India.

Ruby Dhalla, the Liberal candidate in Brampton-Springdale, wants the federal auditor general to investigate the relationship between Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Parm Gill, the Conservative candidate in the Ontario riding. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

"Canadians need to be asking themselves what type of access has Parm Gill been given to Jason Kenney's office," Dhalla said at a news conference Wednesday. "Why is there a two-tiered standard of someone who is unelected, someone who is a private citizen, being allowed to have this much access and what type of access has he been granted?"

She called the affair a new low for Canadian democracy and said Conservative Leader Stephen Harper should take a close look at the conduct of his party's candidates.

'Intimidation and fear'

Dhalla urged anyone with information about any promises made about visas in the riding to come forward, although she believes many people are afraid to speak publiclly.

"There is a great deal of fear and intimidation in the community," she said.

Kenney has dismissed the allegations as "completely ridiculous" and said, "Mr. Gill has every right as a private citizen to provide volunteer unpaid advice."

Gill was not available for an interview but said at a sporting event in February that he has "approximately three people" helping him full time, and that their duties involve " just taking calls and helping me process … immigration files or anything else."

CSIC, the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, is looking into whether Gill received payment for his consulting services, CBC News has learned. He is not a registered immigration consultant.

In a written statement, Gill said his volunteers only helped newcomers find lawyers or other public information and said they were not paid for their services.

He also said his trips to India happened to coincide with the trips the immigration minister made.

With files from The Canadian Press