P.E.I. writes cheque for immigrant protester

P.E.I. writes cheque for immigrant protester
Last Updated: Thursday, October 2, 2008 | 4:05 PM AT
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CBC News
The protesters are escorted by police from the office of PEI Business Development Inc. (CBC)

A Chinese immigrant who protested at a P.E.I. government office Wednesday, saying the province owed him money under the provincial nominee program, was handed a cheque Thursday morning.

Eleven other immigrants, all who came to P.E.I. under the nominee program, have meetings to discuss their files scheduled for Thursday.

The 12 Chinese immigrants staged a sit-down protest Wednesday in a downtown Charlottetown provincial government building, saying they are owed money they provided for investment.

They came to P.E.I. under the provincial nominee program, which provided visas for immigrants who could put up $200,000 for investment in Island companies. One of the conditions of the program was that if the immigrants stayed on Prince Edward Island for at least a year, they would be entitled to get back $25,000.

“Before they moved to the Island, they were told that as long as they lived on the Island for one year they would get money back,” Jinhui Gao told CBC News through an interpreter after the protest Wednesday.

“It seems that the government is trying to extend the conditions or whatever and not give them back the money.”

The 12 arrived at the offices of Charlottetown Business Development Inc. in the afternoon, and were cleared out of the building by Charlottetown police shortly before 6 p.m.

Gao said he tried without luck all day Tuesday to get his money from officials with the Business Development Inc., so he returned Wednesday with other immigrant investors facing the same roadblocks.
Others have had trouble: Gao

The protesters said they would return Thursday, and in at least one case the government has now taken their side.

Gao said Wednesday he felt he had no choice but make a public scene. He said another group of immigrants had the same problem getting their money back in May, and they too had to fight with government before finally getting paid.

The provincial nominee program has been under scrutiny in the last week over questions of who received money in a rush of applicants in the five months before the program shut down on Sept. 2. None of those most recent applicants are yet on P.E.I.

Richard Brown, the minister responsible for the program, told CBC News he was calling his staff together Wednesday evening to discuss what happened. CBC News could not reach the minister after that meeting.

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