VANCOUVER — John Doyle, the tough auditor general who has taken the B.C. Liberal government to task on everything from access to documents related to the Basi-Virk political corruption case to B.C. Hydro’s highly controversial use of deferral accounts, appears to have been denied his bid for a second term.
On Saturday, a legislative committee charged with deciding if Doyle’s five-year term should be renewed, ran a series of newspaper advertisements seeking a new candidate for the job, a clear sign they have decided to find a new auditor general for B.C.
The committee gave applicants until Jan. 25 to apply.
Members of the five-person bipartisan committee are bound to secrecy, but New Democratic Party caucus chair Shane Simpson pointed the finger directly at the B.C. Liberals.
“We’re very disappointed. We think it was petty and vindictive on the part of the Liberals,” he said in an interview, adding he strongly believes it was the committee’s Liberal members who were responsible for the decision.
Simpson said he cannot speak to the two NDP members of the committee — Bruce Ralston and Kathy Corrigan — about what happened, but said the two were “well aware” the NDP caucus strongly supported Doyle’s reappointment.
He added the advertisements are a clear sign the committee has rejected reappointment and has moved on to an external search.
“I don’t know specifically what they did but I expect they represented our caucus’ interests,” he said, adding it would have taken a unanimous vote for the committee to re-appoint Doyle.
“I believe the Liberals are the ones who killed his reappointment and you’re dealing with somebody here who has a very, very strong set of credentials, [who] did an excellent job as a watchdog for the people of British Columbia and did some excellent work in terms of the public interest. There’s just no justification I can see here in terms of his work for why he wasn’t reappointed.”
Despite the fact Doyle has often cast the government in an unfavourable light, Simpson said the NDP was in favour of Doyle’s reappointment — not for partisan reasons, but because they think him to be an effective watchdog.
“I think he’s been a staunch critic of problems in the government and quite honestly had he been reappointed and should we win the election in May, I would expect him to be just as staunch a critic of the NDP, I don’t think there’s much question about that,” he said.
Doyle has been a strong critic of the B.C. Liberal government since taking the job in 2007.
Most recently he has been fighting the government in court for access to documents related to the waiver of $6 million in legal fees for Dave Basi and Bob Virk, two former government aides who pleaded guilty in the B.C. Rail case to breach of trust and accepting bribes.
Doyle has also raised alarm bells over the use of massive deferral accounts at B.C. Hydro, and uncovered serious issues with financial accountability at the legislature itself.
The Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor-general is chaired by Liberal MLA Eric Foster. Other Liberal members are John Les and Ralph Sultan.
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