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Evoking his rights to silence and protection from self-incrimination, former Minister of Immigration Elvin Penner was very selective with the questions he answered before the Senate Select Committee’s hearing held on Wednesday, April 10th.

Despite his extreme prudence, Penner still confessed a mouthful, however, including the fact that he did no due diligence when recommending persons for visa applications nor when endorsing visa sponsors with letters carrying his name and signature.


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Penner you are telling us that in relations to the ones you made recommendations for you did not concern yourself with any of that you didn’t look to find out whether these people documents were complete, whether they had complied, it was totally irrelevant to you?”


Screen_Shot_2017-05-15_at_7.56.20_PMElvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Well, I figure that was the responsibility of the person that was betting the application form.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Right, am asking you about yourself, all of that information was totally irrelevant to you?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Yes, I knew the sponsor, I don’t know the applicant so whatever information was put on the applicants’ form I wouldn’t be able to verify that anyway because I didn’t know the actual applicant I know the sponsor.”


The direct involvement of Ministers, including the Immigration Minister himself, in sensitive immigration processes apparently caught the attention of Immigration authorities, to the point that when Maria Marin assumed the post of Director of Immigration in March 2013, she developed a monitoring system to keep track of the times Ministerial intervention occurred. When she testified on January 22nd, she also seemed a bit reluctant to reveal the purpose of the compilation.


Senator Mark Lizarraga – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“What was the reason for having the list you submitted it what happened, what transpired because of your keeping track of these things?”


Maria Marin – Former Director of Immigration and Nationality


“Well, shortly thereafter we saw the numbers decreasing, we definitely saw numbers decreasing. This list was specifically to advice our ministry of those that had coming through ministers and that had been approved.”


But last Wednesday, Penner provided a much different version of how this special monitoring list came to be. He claimed that it came as a directive from Cabinet. This was a strange admission because if true it meant that he and other Ministers made a decision in Cabinet to investigate themselves, since the monitoring was all about them. Doesn’t make much sense right? When asked why Cabinet would make such a decision, Penner claimed the information was privileged and he could not divulge.


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Did you regard a part of your responsibility to monitor what was happening with respect to the approval of VISAS when you were minister of State?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“No”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Did you attend meetings in the Departments where there were discussions within the department about the amount of VISAS that were being processed, the amount of applications received etc.?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Not that I can recall.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Did you attend meetings where there were concerns about the amount of request by ministers and other political colleagues for VISAS to be process within the department?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Not that I can recall.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Somewhere else”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I would like to say something in regards to my responses with the questions that had been raised…”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“I anticipated this, go ahead…”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“In Cabinet, when we were given the privilege to be a part of the Cabinet by our Prime Minister is a practice and I think it has always been a practice that the discussions and the decisions made in Cabinet are to be kept confidential so I would want to honor that as much as I can where that confidentiality was trusted to the ministers who were given appointments as much as possible and therefore I don’t think I am allowed to answer questions in regards to Cabinet decisions or Cabinet discussions.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Now, the person who told you that over lunch, did they sight any law to support that?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Why are you assuming that a person told me that over lunch?”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Don’t ask me any questions? The person who told you that over lunch did he sight any law to support that?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I did not had any access to any law books over lunch could not have sighted that.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Do you want me to repeat the question a third time?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Yes”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“The person who told you that over lunch did they cite any law to support what you just said?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Nobody cited any law.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Right, so what law protects you from disclosing answer to my question?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I have not a chance to look at the law so I won’t be able to answer you that.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Penner, I want to remind you of what the chairman said to you this morning about your obligations to answer questions, right, I am now asking you whether there were any discussions in Cabinet about the amount of VISAS that were being processed in the department and specifically with respect to those requested by minister of other political colleagues?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“My answer would still be the same I do not recall

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