Liberals get failing grade – again – for legislative assembly management

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VICTORIA – New information contained in an Auditor General report released Wednesday raises very serious questions about the way the legislative assembly has been run under the Liberal government, say New Democrats.

The report from Auditor General John Doyle outlines a series of questionable payments made in support of Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster's constituency office, as well as hidden and “unusual compensation arrangements” for senior executives.

The report raises new concerns regarding approximately $51,000 in expenses at Foster's constituency office. The extent of work paid for was “a complete renovation of this building, and not just the mere customization of a pre-existing space.”

These expenditures included: purchasing and installing a complete forced-air heating/cooling system including a 4-ton heat pump and 75,000-BTU furnace, replacing the building’s wiring system, purchasing and installing new plumbing – including gas piping – and painting the building’s exterior. The report says that, “controls were overridden and payment of the requested amount was made on the Speaker’s instruction.”

“The practice of MLAs has been to get sign-off from the legislative comptroller before leases are signed. Why that didn’t happen in the case of Mr. Foster is a serious concern,” said Shane Simpson, New Democrat caucus chair and member of the committee.

The report also outlines hundreds of thousands of dollars that were spent on retirement allowances and payments to senior executives that were not properly publicly disclosed and that raise significant questions about whether they were treated as employees or contractors.

“The Legislative Assembly Management Committee should have been informed of these decisions made by the Speaker, but that did not happen,” said Shane Simpson, New Democrat caucus chair and member of the committee.

Wednesday’s report follows up on Doyle's July 2012 report that showed many problems exist with the legislative assembly’s financial management.

The B.C. Liberals are not up to the challenges facing British Columbians today. Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.