The current system for appointing an auditor general isn't broke and doesn't need fixing, according to one local NDP candidate.
Prince George-Valemount candidate Sherry Ogasawara said the plan presented by Premier Christy Clark to reform the selection process for the chief government watchdog isn't necessary.
"I think the six-year term has worked well to this point in time, I'm not understanding why there would have to be a legislative change," she said. "I think there are other priorities and other issues that need to be attended to."
At a news conference in Vancouver on Wednesday morning, Clark announced her government intended to change the current six-year term to eight years, but eliminate the possibility that an auditor general can be re-appointed. The changes, which will be introduced as a bill in the legislature during the spring session, come in the wake of a controversial decision by a committee of the legislature to initially deny current auditor general John Doyle a second term.
"I do not believe it's the right process when we have independent officers of the legislature like this one - who are in a natural conflict with the government - to every six years be coming in and perhaps asking to have their job back," Clark said. "I think it creates a difficult conflict."
The governing Liberals came under fire when the NDP said some members of government on the all-party committee decided not to offer Doyle another six years on the job. Opponents like Ogasawara said it was an effort to "silence very effective watch dog."
Among some of the more stinging criticisms, Doyle challenged the government on the size of the deficit and how B.C. Hydro defers some of its expenses.
Clark said the changes her government are proposing are needed both to improve the process and how it's perceived. By having the current re-appointment debate take place in the shadow of a looming election, Clark said it creates skepticism puts both MLAs and the auditor general in an untenable position.
"The people of British Columbia need to have confidence that the right person is being selected for the right reasons and that process stands untainted by political agendas," she said. "That doesn't just have to be true, it has to be seen to be true by the citizens of British Columbia."
Clark also expressed her desire that Doyle be given another two years as auditor general, something the legislative committee tasked with the selection of a new auditor general is now considering. The five-member group consisting of three Liberals and two NDP members must reach a unanimous decision.
The committee met behind closed doors on Wednesday afternoon and is planning to meet again in private on Friday.
Ogasawara described the idea of giving Doyle a partial extension as an "about-face flip flop" by the Liberals, but also said it doesn't far enough. She's still calling for Doyle to be given the option of staying on for an additional six years.
"On one hand it's great they're reconsidering, but on the other hand [the two-year term] is unfortunate," she said. "I'm hearing over and over again from people who were deeply concerned and very troubled with the announcement that they weren't re-appointing John Doyle to an additional term."