Auditor General accuses panel of bias

Auditor General John Doyle says his independence is under attack by a legislative committee struck to review his appointment and he's considering some kind of action in response.

A Liberal-dominated committee originally decided not to re-appoint Doyle, but then reversed course this week and offered him a two-year extension.

Doyle said Thursday the committee didn't appear to know what it was doing and he's raising allegations of conflict of interest by one of the committee members.

"I am concerned my independence is being challenged and attacked quite inappropriately, in public, by a committee that doesn't know what it's doing," he said.

Doyle said he has concerns about Liberal MLA Eric Foster, who is the chairman of the five-member, all-party committee that has been meeting to appoint an auditor general.

"I'm particularly concerned about the independence of the chair, and what concerns me even more was during the actual interviews themselves some of the questions that I was asked made me believe that there was scope for doubting his independence and objectivity," he said.

"At least one of the questions demonstrated an overt conflict of interest," said Doyle, who would not elaborate further.

Doyle said he's considering taking some form of action, but until then he isn't about to quit or make a decision on the two-year extension.

"This entire application process is premature," he said. "The next parliament can decide what they will do. The whole exercise has come about too early, and I'm concerned about the process that was followed."

Foster said in a statement Doyle should tell British Columbians if he accepts the committee's offer or not.

"Mr. Doyle has reapplied for the job as auditor general and an offer is now on the table," said Foster's statement. "Mr. Doyle needs to let British Columbians know if he accepts this offer or not."

Last week, Premier Christy Clark said the Liberals will introduce legislation before the election that cleans up what she called flaws in the hiring process. She said the legislation will hold auditors general to a single, eight-year term.

Doyle's original appointment was for a six-year term, but he applied for a second six-year reappointment and discovered he was not reappointment when the government placed ads looking for an auditor general.

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