MLA Vicki Huntington backs out-going auditor general
After shaking up the B.C. government's financial affairs, Auditor General John Doyle will be replaced by a new financial watchdog when his six-year term expires at the end of May.
Rules for the five-member MLA committee that appoints auditors require them to maintain secrecy on who didn't support Doyle's reappointment, which required unanimous support. NDP leader Adrian Dix said it's clear it was one or more B.C. Liberal MLAs who voted against Doyle's reappointment.
"This is clearly a bad decision, not one that the NDP supports, not one that I support," Dix said Monday.
Opposition MLAs cite Doyle's reports criticizing the recent buildup of BC Hydro debt and the state of B.C.'s forest inventory in the wake of a devastating pine beetle epidemic as likely reasons why Doyle wasn't reappointed.
Doyle is also leading a court action seeking release of detailed defence lawyer billings for former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, whose $6 million in legal costs were covered by the province after they pleaded guilty to breach of trust in the 2002 sale of BC Rail operations.
Vicki Huntington sits on the Public Accounts Committee and has reviewed Doyle's reports many times.
"I can tell you this man is devoted to doing his job independently," she said, adding he's one of the best officers of the Legislative Assembly.
"To get rid of him because you don't like, as a government, some of his comments about the management of government programs, then shame on you."
Huntington accused the government of making a political move to oust him because his accurate reports have embarrassed them.
Dix called Monday for Premier Christy Clark to intervene and ask the MLA committee to reconsider its decision to hire a new auditor. A spokesman for the premier quickly ruled that option out.
Ben Chin, Clark's communications director, said Clark has maintained a policy of not interfering in legislative committees, such as a cosmetic pesticide committee that disagreed with her call for a ban.
"You can't send the committee back to work because you don't like the conclusion they reach," Chin said.
Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, who chairs the selection committee, said there were no "marching orders" given to B.C. Liberal MLAs by the caucus or the premier. Foster refused to comment further, citing strict confidentiality rules around personnel decisions such as the employment of the auditor.
The other B.C. Liberal committee members are Chilliwack MLA John Les and Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom, both of whom are retiring in May.
The NDP members of the committee are Surrey-Whalley MLA Bruce Ralston and Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan.