A legislative committee has decided not to appoint BC Auditor General John Doyle to a second term, and the NDP says the BC Liberals are following a pattern of avoiding scrutiny.
Doyle has been involved in a number of investigations in his six year term, including the investigation into the government’s decision to pay the $6 million legal bills for two former ministerial aides, Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, who pleaded guilty to leaking information related to the sale of BC Rail. He has also focused on Legislative travel expenses, a lack of resources in the environmental assessment process and deferral of expenses at BC Hydro which made it look more profitable than it actually is.
All good work, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald, and all good reason for Mr. Doyle to have been reappointed.
“This is a gentleman who is very highly regarded and who has done very good work — work that shines the light on what government is doing,” Macdonald said. “The BC Liberals are sending a message — if you do your job and are critical of the government, you will not last here in B.C.
“This is a gentleman who would be hard on the government of the day, whether Liberal or NDP.”
Macdonald says that all of Doyle’s investigations have been demonstrably in the public interest.
“Few people are more important to the taxpayer,” he said.
It’s not just the NDP who are crying fowl.
Watchdog organization Integrity BC is also protesting the decision.
“Government watchdogs are supposed to have teeth, not wear muzzles,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “It’s difficult to imagine that any successor to John Doyle will not read the writing that was written on the wall with this decision: if you want to be reappointed don’t do the job of Auditor General too well.”
The organization has launched an online petition in the wake of the Doyle decision calling the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to freeze the appointments or re-appointments of all Legislature Officers until after the May 2013 B.C. election and introduce new policies to ensure that all such appointments or re-appointments take place within six months of each fixed-date general election.
The petition can be found on the organization’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/integritybritishcolumbia or at https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/freeze-the-appointments-or-re-appointments-of-all-legislature-officers
However, Doug Clovechok, BC Liberal candidate for Columbia River Revelstoke has a different view.
“Let me begin by saying the office of the AG is not going anywhere and the NDP conspiracy theories around this decision is just more of their meaningless rhetoric,” clovechok said.
“The Premier and our party are committed to this very important position that acts as the watch dog on government spending. Simply, the current AG’s term ended and the vote to re-hire had to be unanimous from the committee and it was not. The decision was an in-camera one made by a committee comprised of both BC Liberal and the NDP members and as such how votes were cast will not be made public. Tax payers need to rest assured that going forward this same committee will appoint the best person to do the job that will hold government, legislators and agencies to account. The BC Liberals continue to work very hard to control government spending and clearly understand the value of the AG’s office to British Columbians and their families.”