Opinion

Editorial — Doyle's departure is our loss

The B.C. Auditor-General, John Doyle, will not accept an extension to his term, as offered by a legislative committee which initially said it did not want to renew his contract. He has instead accepted an appointment as auditor-general of the Australian state of Victoria.

Doyle has rubbed the Liberal government the wrong way on many occasions. One such Liberal was MLA Eric Foster, whose expenses in regards to renovations of his constituency office in Vernon were not properly accounted for. The building was owned by his constituency assistant’s husband, and even though Foster was being audited, he chaired the committee which recommended Doyle not be re-appointed.

Another area where Doyle dismayed the government was in looking into the $6 million in legal expenses paid by the government after Dave Basi and Bob Virk agreed to plead guilty in the B.C. Rail corruption case. Not only was this reimbursement against government policy, it came about in mid-trial, just as former finance minister Gary Collins was set to testify.

While B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that Doyle cannot have access to the detailed expenses billed by Basi and Virk’s lawyers, this information will come out eventually — perhaps through a public inquiry, which other political parties have pledged to call, should the Liberals be defeated in the May election.

Doyle’s expertise was applied locally as well. He was instrumental in helping Langley School District deal with its accumulated deficit, and offered specific recommendations to help the district set up a plan to pay it off. The deficit came about as the result of a number of shoddy accounting methods in place.

The school distrrict has followed those recommendations, and the deficit is being paid down at a faster rate than scheduled. His assistance in this area was invaluable.

Doyle said Tuesday that he was prepared to stay in B.C. for a full second term of six years. However, the committee only offered him two more years, after prodding from the premier, and he wasn’t prepared to take that, given how political the entire issue had become.

An auditor-general is expected to ask thorough questions and act as an advocate for taxpayers. Doyle has done that very well, and he will be sorely missed.

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