There is a local angle to this week's news that John Doyle, the provincial auditor general, will be returning to his native Australia rather than accept a half-hearted offer to stay on for an extra two years.
Last month, the Liberal-dominated legislative committee decided he shouldn't be reappointed to a second six-year term. The NDP charged that Doyle was being run out of Victoria for his steady criticism of the Liberal government. Premier Christy Clark then swooped in, promising new legislation saying auditor generals in future would be appointed for eight year terms.
At that point, the committee made its lukewarm offer for Doyle to stay.
Here's where the local angle comes in.
The Liberal who fired the first shot on what would become open season on the auditor general was none other than Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell.
Doyle released a scathing report in 2008 on the Liberal decision to pull thousands of hectares out of a Vancouver Island tree farm licence, showing that the move by then forests minister Rich Coleman amounted to a $200-million gift of more than 75,000 acres of prime real estate to Western Forest Products.
The report showed Coleman knew he was giving the company a big financial boost but never bothered to find out exactly how much the protected green space was actually worth. He didn't seek any kind of compensation from Western Forest Products and he didn't consult affected communities or anybody else.
Doyle found a five-page brief to the minister "did not make a persuasive case for allowing the land removal."
By the time of Doyle's report, however, Bell was forest minister, not Coleman.
But instead of soberly accepting the report, admitting mistakes had been made and vowing to tighten up due diligence procedures in the ministry, Bell treated the auditor general like he was an NDP stooge.
Mere hours after the report's release, Bell was in front of microphones accusing the still new auditor general of lacking integrity.
"If Mr. Doyle thinks this is the way we do business in Canada, he's dead wrong," Bell thundered.
Tough words directed at a former deputy auditor general in Western Australia, with hundreds of audits under his belt, not to mention a successful academic career as the head of the school of accounting and finance at Australia's University of Notre Dame in Fremantle.
Did Bell support Doyle's appointment as auditor general just a year earlier? He did, Coleman did, and the rest of the legislature did, in a unanimous vote.
Gordon Campbell could have brought the whole thing to a halt by kicking Coleman out of cabinet and ordering Bell to apologize. Instead, he did nothing. As a result, every time Doyle released a report that even hinted at Liberal negligence or incompetence, Liberal MLAs and cabinet ministers rudely criticized their own auditor general.
Contrast that with Thursday's response from Stephanie Cadieux, the minister of children and family development, to child advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's report on the case of the 11-year-old boy Tasered by Prince George RCMP after an incident at a local group home.
Cadieux accepted all the report's recommendations and admitted there were gaps in government care for vulnerable children that needed fixing.
"I want to say that I am hearbroken that the system failed this child," she said.
That's what government accountability and responsibility should look like when a government-appointed watchdog releases a report.
Unfortunately, Bell's actions in 2008 not only tarnished the rest of Doyle's term as auditor-general, it has no doubt made it difficult to find an adequate replacement.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout