A committee of MLAs that tried to oust auditor general John Doyle from office backpedaled Wednesday and instead offered him two more years on the job.
The five-person special legislative committee, which has faced weeks of fierce criticism after it refused to grant a second term to the province’s financial watchdog, unanimously voted to extend Doyle’s tenure by two years.
But it’s unclear whether Doyle will accept or walk away from the position. He had been seeking a full second term, which is six years.
“That’s up to Mr. Doyle, I guess,” said committee chairman Eric Foster, Liberal MLA for Vernon-Monashee.
“If he doesn’t want the job, then we will go and search for a new auditor general.”
Doyle refused an interview Wednesday. Through a spokesperson he said he needed time to discuss his options with family and friends, but was “very heartened by the groundswell of support that he’s received from the residents of B.C. over the past few weeks.”
The abrupt about-face by the committee came after the intervention of Premier Christy Clark, who last week publicly called on the MLAs to reconsider.
Doyle’s six-year term is set to expire later this year. The Opposition NDP has accused the Liberal government of trying to silence Doyle, after a first term in which he delivered a series of critical reports and battled the government in court for access to records related to the B.C. Rail corruption trial.
“It’s unfortunate we went through this mess, and we had to clean it up and fix it, but here we are,” said NDP caucus chairman Shane Simpson.
“We have an offer on the table, and we’ll see what Mr. Doyle says.
“At the end of the day though, considering what he’s been through and how this exercise has played out, I wouldn’t presume anything.”
The NDP thinks Doyle should have received a full six-year extension, said Simpson.
Clark has said her government will introduce legislation this spring to limit future auditors general to a single eight-year term. She has said the current system is profoundly flawed because an auditor general has to ask MLAs — some of whom he may have criticized in audits — to be re-hired.
Foster had recently been cited by Doyle in an audit over questionable constituency expenses and a possible conflict of interest. Foster has said he was unaware of that audit and it didn’t influence his role as committee chairman or his vote on Doyle’s future.
The re-appointment process had also been criticized because it required a unanimous vote, in secret, by MLAs on the committee.
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