A B.C. legislative committee has reversed its decision to oust Auditor-General John Doyle, recommending instead he be appointed to a second term.
The five-member Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor General unanimously recommended Mr. Doyle be appointed to another term ending Oct. 31, 2015.
The Liberal-dominated committee had earlier ruled out a second term for Mr. Doyle and advertised the position in major Canadian newspapers. Critics viewed the move as an effort to silence a tough-as-nails watchdog who had been highly critical of government spending.
In response, Premier Christy Clark said the selection process was "highly flawed" and called for a two-year extension to Mr. Doyle's term. She also promised to introduce legislation that would extend the term of an auditor from six to eight years and limit it to a single 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 back and perhaps asking to have their jobs back," Ms. Clark said at a news conference last week.
NDP caucus chair Shane Simpson viewed the committee's about-face as a response to strong public backlash.
"Clearly, the Liberals don't like Mr. Doyle very much and wanted to get rid of him," Mr. Simpson said. "Obviously, the public backlash to that was very strong. People believe Mr. Doyle has been a very effective watchdog and has done a good job. There was never any rationale for why he shouldn't be reappointed. We saw damage control when the premier appeared all of a sudden to put this new option on the table and essentially publicly direct her people to change their position and make this offer."
Mr. Simpson said there was never an "open competition," as stated in the committee's report, as the closing date in the advertisements wasn't until Jan. 25.
"The competition wouldn't have even closed for the next couple of days," he said. "They made a huge political blunder, mostly because they were being petty and vindictive, and it blew up in their face. They were desperate to fix it."
Kate Jobling, communications manager at the office of the Auditor General of B.C., said Mr. Doyle needed time to discuss the option with family, friends and staff and would not be commenting on the matter Wednesday. She added that Mr. Doyle "has been heartened by the groundswell of support from residents in the past few weeks regarding his reappointment."