Departing auditor general planned to stay for six more years

Departing auditor general, John Doyle, says he planned to stay and still has no explanation from the B.C. Liberal government as to why he was not automatically renewed.
Doyle says he is leaving B.C. for Australia after a public feud over his reappointment 2:16

Departing B.C. Auditor General John Doyle planned to stay in his post for 12 years. But the confusion surrounding the renewal of his appointment means he'll fall short of that goal, as he leaves for Australia to become the auditor general for the state of Victoria.

In an interview on CBC Radio One's On the Coast with Stephen Quinn, Doyle said he still doesn't know why the B.C. Liberal government did not automatically renew his appointment.

When asked to share the reason for the non-renewal he responded, "I'd love to, but they didn't tell me either."

Doyle added that there was little communication with the government in the lead up to the confusion over his position.

"The whole process doesn't work properly and I think the committee could've done a lot better, in first of all,  communicating with me as the candidate and the encumbent," said Doyle, "quite frankly, I believe that all of this was done far too early and it could've waited until after the election."

As he closes out his final months as auditor general, Doyle says his biggest concerns are with the financial health of the province and the way it reports. He hopes to publish at least five more performance audit reports before the end of March.

In the end, Doyle's decision came down to a lack of support from the provincial government.

"I discussed this carefully with my wife and we concluded that the kind of support and the level of collegiality that should exist between an auditor general and the legislative unlikely to be there for some time, so I thought it was best if I stepped aside".

Moving on to Australia

Ted Baillieu, premier of the state of Victoria, said in a statement he was pleased Doyle accepted the post.

"The role of Auditor General is vital to the good governance of the state," the statement said.

"The Auditor General has an essential role in ensuring that public funds are not only spent in line with the appropriations made by Parliament, but also that those funds are spent effectively to the benefit of Victorians."

Doyle had been offered a further two-year term in B.C., after the legislative committee decided not to extend his original appointment — and then revised its offer after Premier Christy Clark unveiled changes to the appointment process.

 NDP critic Shane Simpson says he understands why Doyle felt he couldn't continue in B.C.

"I think it really became a bit of a circus here in British Columbia and I fully appreciate Mr. Doyle's view that he was put in a very difficult if not an untenable position to stay in British Columbia because of how the government conducted itself. And that's really unfortunate."

At a housing event in Vancouver Tuesday, senior government minister Rich Coleman didn't want to talk about Doyle's departure.

"He's a senior legislative officer. He can seek out his career wherever he wants. I don't really have a comment about where John wants to go."

Doyle started his term as B.C.'s auditor general in October 2007 after serving as a deputy auditor general in Australia.

John Doyle is moving to Australia to be state of Victoria's new Auditor General. (CBC)

Doyle's most high-profile investigation is his ongoing examination of the government's decision to pay the $6-million legal bills for two former ministerial aides, Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, who pleaded guilty to leaking information related to the sale of BC Rail. He is currently fighting the provincial government in court to obtain files related to that payout and others.

Other work has included a report last year that criticized financial accountability in the legislature, an investigation that revealed a lack of resources in the environmental assessment process and a report into the deferral of expenses at BC Hydro.

He recently released a report that called on the government to introduce whistleblower protection for public servants.

With files from The Canadian Press