09/16/2011 05:12 EDT | Updated 11/16/2011 05:12 EST

Request for RCMP to investigate P.E.I. based on new info: immigration minister

CALGARY - Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says his department asked the RCMP to investigate allegations about a failed immigration program in Prince Edward Island after it received new information.

Kenney says the federal government was aware of problems with the program in 2008 and that's why it was suspended at the time.

"Having said that, these are completely new allegations that our officials received relating to allegations of financial corruption," Kenney said following a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

"Senior officials in my department did the appropriate thing and referred those allegations to the appropriate investigatory authorities. And beyond that, it's for them to determine what to do next."

Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island has denounced the request for the RCMP to investigate bribery allegations, accusing the province's Opposition Conservative party of playing dirty politics in the midst of an election campaign.

The Liberal leader said the accusations lack substance and are an attempt by the provincial Conservatives to blindside his government weeks before the Oct. 3 vote.

RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar says P.E.I.'s commercial crime section is reviewing the information it received to determine whether an investigation is warranted.

This week, a former employee of the P.E.I.'s immigration nominee program alleged that senior provincial immigration officials were bribed in order to fast-track applications.