The leader of the B.C. NDP is calling for Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk to resign or be fired, after a government investigation revealed Virk's involvement in deliberately skirting disclosure rules to give what amounted to a $50,000 signing bonus to an incoming senior executive at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
The report, issued by the Finance Ministry on Tuesday, investigated the university's hiring practices dating back at least three years for a university vice-president and president, at a time when Virk, a former Mountie, was a volunteer board member.
It found Virk and the board at the Vancouver-area university failed to meet government disclosure requirements when they knowingly approved a $50,000 pre-employment contract to new university president Alan Davis in 2012.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong labelled the report's findings "troubling" and says Virk's actions while on the board were "unacceptable", but did not call for anyone involved, including Virk, to be punished.
'Mr. Virk has clearly demonstrated that he doesn't believe that the rules are there to be followed.' - B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan
Now B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan says the report should either prompt Virk's resignation or firing, since Virk is now in charge of post-secondary education in the province.
"Mr. Virk has had a day to reflect upon that [report] and still remains in his mind the minister responsible," said Horgan. "More troubling is the premier has had a day to reflect on that and has not sought his resignation."
But Premier Christy Clark says she has spoken to Virk and is confident in his ability to continue in the Advanced Education Ministry.
"Amrik Virk has taken responsibility for how compensation was disclosed at Kwantlen Polytechnic University three years ago," said a statement issued by Clark Wednesday.
"He's committed to making sure the rules and the intent of rules are followed. I have spoken to him and have absolute confidence in him and his ability to serve as minister of advanced education."
Virk 'humbled', but not resigning
Previously Virk had dismissed the NDP's questions about spending at Kwantlen as "outlandish" and "fishing expeditions."
Following the report's release this week, Virk said he was "humbled" by its findings, but would not resign.
"It's clear that at the time as a board member, I could have done better," said Virk. "There were failures. I was part of that board at that time."
Horgan says Virk's actions and previous denials of wrongdoing show he should not be in office.
"Mr. Virk has clearly demonstrated that he doesn't believe that the rules are there to be followed," Horgan said.
"He is now in a position to ensure that other people follow those rules. That strikes me at a minimum to be a conflict of interest."
The report also found Kwantlen Polytechnic University had previously offered former vice president Anne Lavack a $50,000 pre-employment contract without the knowledge of the board or Virk.