B.C. Tory candidate won $578,590 contract from Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Posted by admin on Oct 3rd, 2008

Glen McGregor. The Ottawa Citizen. Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Harper government gave a $578,590 contract to a small consulting company run by a Vancouver sociologist after she became a Conservative party candidate. Citizenship and Immigration Canada awarded the contract to Wai Young & Associates in April, three months after Wai Young had been acclaimed as the Conservative candidate to run in Vancouver South against former Liberal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh. The funding from Citizenship and Immigration was earmarked to pay for the LINC Administrators Conference 2008, a professional-development event on language instruction for newcomers to Canada. The three-day conference was held in June at the airport Holiday Inn in Toronto.

Ms. Young was unavailable for comment, but her campaign said yesterday that she had consulted with the federal ethics commissioner, Mary Dawson, to ensure that the work did not put her in a conflict of interest.

“She was concerned that her opponents might draw the wrong conclusions about this work, and she wanted the focus in her campaign to be on the real issues,” campaign manager Lois Johnson wrote in an e-mail. “Therefore, she also took it upon herself to step away from her business during the course of the election campaign, despite the Ethics Commissioner’s advice that there is no conflict.”

Although Citizenship and Immigration lists the $578,590 for Wai Young & Associates under its “grants and contributions” section, Ms. Johnson said the contract was awarded by Citizenship and Immigration’s Ontario regional office after Ms. Young responded to a request-for-proposal, a process used in government tendering.

Citizenship and Immigration promised on Tuesday to provide more information about the funding for the conference, but did not return phone calls yesterday.

The contract runs from April 1 to Oct. 15, the day after the election, Ms. Johnson said. It includes providing program content; booking speakers; paying for accommodation, travel and food expenses; and other costs related to the conference for 340 language-instruction administrators, she said.

Ms. Young is listed as the organizer of the event, according to the conference website. Her contact information on the LINC Conference webpage gives a Toronto phone number, while the e-mail address is associated with her campaign website.

Ms. Young, a sociologist by training, is considered a long-shot to defeat Mr. Dosanjh, who won the riding handily last time by capturing nearly half of the votes cast.

“I am particularly proud of the role that my small consulting firm has played in developing award-winning policies and programs that are directly helping to shape (Vancouver’s) future,” the official biography on her campaign site says.

Ms. Young personally passed on condolences from Conservative leader Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, at the February funeral of beloved Hong Kong comedy star Lydia Shum, known as “Fei-fei,” who lived the last years of her life in Burnaby, B.C.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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