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Premier offers auditor 2-year extension

B.C. Auditor General John Doyle - Black Press files
B.C. Auditor General John Doyle
— image credit: Black Press files

Premier Christy Clark wants to amend the Auditor General Act to offer John Doyle a two-year extension of his term, due to end this year.

Clark told a news conference in Vancouver Wednesday that she has asked the three B.C. Liberal MLAs on the selection committee to offer the extension to Doyle, as they prepared to meet Wednesday with the two NDP MLAs on the committee.

Clark said the amendments would change the B.C. auditor-general's term to a non-renewable eight-year term, to avoid political controversy as politicians vote on their own watchdog. The move is patterned after the federal government, which appoints auditors-general to a single 10-year term.

NDP leader Adrian Dix has said his caucus was unanimous in seeking Doyle's reappointment. All five MLAs on the committee must be unanimous for that to happen, and their votes and reasons are officially secret due to personnel privacy restrictions.

The selection committee is expected to meet again Friday to discuss the proposed extension. If they support the idea, it would be proposed to Doyle.

The committee chair, Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster, was the subject of a random audit that raised questions about his constituency office renovations. The other two B.C. Liberals who form the majority are Chilliwack MLA John Les and Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom, both of whom are not seeking re-election in May.

Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan and Surrey-Whalley MLA Bruce Ralston represent the NDP on the committee.

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.

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