B.C. could soon find itself without a financial watchdog unless there’s some quick action by legislators on getting an acting auditor general in place, warns the Opposition.
NDP house leader John Horgan sounded the alarm bell about a possible auditor general crisis during a point of order in the legislature on Thursday.
He said confusion over the departure date of outgoing auditor general John Doyle and a lack of action on finding an acting replacement hasn’t been addressed.
“Only the legislature can appoint an officer of the legislature [like the auditor general], and we have 18 days to do that,” Horgan said of the shortened spring session before the May 14 provincial election.
“Based on the looks I got when I stood on my point of order, I don’t think they have a plan.”
Horgan’s move came as Liberal MLA Eric Foster, the chairman of a legislative committee charged with selecting an auditor general, tabled his committee’s final report in the house.
Foster’s report offered Doyle two more years in the job, but was already out of date: Doyle announced earlier this month that he would be leaving to take a job in Australia.
Critics have accused Foster and his committee of badly bungling the situation.
Doyle had applied for a second six-year term as auditor general, but Foster’s committee failed to unanimously support him and sought a replacement instead.
The move, which critics described as a petty attempt by the Liberal government to silence a watchdog critic on the eve of an election, prompted Premier Christy Clark to intervene and suggest a compromise of a two-year contract extension.
Doyle called the offer an embarrassment, the reappointment process “Mickey Mouse” and questioned if the committee even knew what it was doing.
The government has said it thinks Doyle’s term ends in May, but Doyle has insisted it runs until October. Regardless, Australian officials have called on Doyle to start in July.
Liberal house leader Mike de Jong said all MLAs are interested to know if the auditor general’s office will be vacant and, if so, when that will occur.
Speaker Bill Barisoff said he would write to Doyle on behalf of MLAs to ask for clarity.
The situation is further complicated because while Foster’s committee had collected resumés from potential applicants, the committee was dissolved by the legislature when it started a new session on Tuesday and technically doesn’t exist anymore.
“It will be interesting to see how that all unfolds,” Foster said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen yet.”
Doyle’s office declined to comment, saying it would wait for the speaker’s letter.
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