While Adrian Dix and the B.C. New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to change course and re-appoint Auditor General John Doyle to another six-year term, the premier and the government have shown how out of touch they are by refusing to reconsider.
Doyle has issued a number of scathing reports during his term, and is currently in the process of investigating why the Liberal government decided to pay $6 million in legal fees for convicted Liberal insiders in the BC Rail scandal in October 2010. Doyle has been fighting the government in court for access to the documents he needs to complete his investigation.
Here are just a few other examples of Auditor General John Doyle’s reports that highlight a Liberal government with a record of mismanagement and misplaced priorities:
- Forest land giveaway – A July 2008 report on the removal of public lands from Tree Farm Licence by the then-Minister of Forests Rich Coleman said “The minister was the final check in the process … but, given the importance of the decision, he did not do enough to ensure that due regard was given to the public interest.” The value of the private lands released was conservatively estimated at $150 million. The Liberals responded to this report by attacking Doyle. The new forests minister at the time, Pat Bell, called the report “unprofessional and lacking in integrity.”
- Trades training – A November 2008 report found that when, in 2002, the province brought in the new model for trades training, the new institution performed poorly. The new Industry Training Authority hadn’t been providing adequate program guidance to ensure quality program development, had not established effective links between program standards, learning resources and assessment tools, and had not been monitoring training providers and apprenticeship sponsors to ensure effective program delivery. The report also found that half of all registered apprentices hadn’t even stepped foot in a school for a single day of classroom training.
- Poor environmental assessment record – In July 2011, Doyle demonstrated that the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office was not properly monitoring whether companies were holding to their environmental mitigation commitments. Despite this, the B.C. Liberals continued their poor environmental assessment record by freezing the office’s funding: it was cut by 17% in 2008 and the 2012 budget froze it at $8.8 million until 2015.
- Legislative accounting practices – A July 2012 report heavily criticized the legislature's accounting and financial processes. Following the release of his report, Doyle said “I don't know what's missing because the records are in such a poor state.” The report led to important ongoing reforms that are increasing openness and accountability within the legislative assembly.
- Excessive use of deferral accounts at BC Hydro – Doyle found that the B.C. Liberals have been padding their bottom line by “creating the illusion of profitability where there is none” at BC Hydro using a series of deferral accounts. Though the use of rate regulated accounting it is no longer allowed under Canadian accounting standards, the B.C. Liberals changed the law to allow it to continue. According to BC Hydro’s latest quarterly report, the deferral accounts now stand at $4.1 billion, and they have no plan to pay it back.
Quote from Shane Simpson, New Democrat caucus chair:
“This decision by the committee makes no sense when you look at Mr. Doyle's performance. It is important that the premier and the Liberal government be clear. Do they agree with this decision or are they prepared to join with the official opposition in calling for reconsideration?
“It is simply not good enough for the premier and the Liberals to hide behind the confidentiality of the committee to avoid telling British Columbians where they stand.”
New Democrats believe Mr. Doyle has been an effective and impartial critic of the government who deserves to be reappointed. In addition to his record, reappointing Doyle would save time and money, and serve the public interest.