Canada

B.C. law society votes to censure provincial auditor general

B.C. law society votes to censure province's auditor general

Members of British Columbia's law society say they've lost confidence in the province's attorney general.

The vote to censure Geoff Plant, held Wednesday, passed by a margin of two-to-one. Law society members are upset over cuts to the legal aid budget and the closure of 24 courthouses in the province.

Law professor Wes Pue says the censure is "astonishing."

"I've never heard of such a thing happening before. It indicates a great deal of frustration with government policies on these matters," said Pue.

B.C. is the only province to impose a tax on legal fees, the proceeds of which are supposed to fund legal aid. The law society says legal aid gets less than half of the takings.

Lawyer Michael Milligan first proposed the law society censure Plant. He says the cuts endanger the province's justice system and wants the auditor general to pay attention to the proposal.

"And it is my sincere hope he takes this carefully considered message today and that he does the right thing," said Milligan.

But Plant seems untroubled. He says he has the support of the premier and that any personal embarrassment he might suffer doesn't matter.

"I'll get up and continue to do my job as attorney general and work within limited fiscal amounts to provide the best access that we can in British Columbia," said Plant.

Plant says he's confident that despite the cuts, any one who needs legal help in this province can get it.

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