MLA and Chair of the Committee to select a (now new) Auditor General Eric Foster is hiding behind a lie. Foster claims that the information about his personal conflict with the Auditor – the conflict that may have provided the animus for his vote against reappointment – was illegally leaked.
That’s just not true. And that leads to a whole new can of worms for the BC Liberals.
From over on the Gazetteer’s site:
“Foster defends the expense and says Doyle’s concerns have since been resolved – he won’t release documents to back that up saying that would break the law, and he wants to know who leaked the Auditor’s letter to the media in the first place.
“This is priveleged, this is a management document that’s inside lamc, and that’s priveleged information, it’s not to be published. Whoever leaked that document to the times-colonist is breaking the law.”…
The only “law” that I can find that says anything about the disclosure of the Auditor’s finding of serious irregularities in Mr. Foster’s accounting of tax dollars spent renovating his constituency office is the Auditor General Act, which has this to say about disclosure:
9 The Auditor General, or a person appointed or engaged under section 8, must keep in confidence all information obtained in the exercise of a power or in the performance of a duty of the Auditor General and must not communicate this information to any person except
(a) in the course of the administration of an enactment, or
(b) in court proceedings.
So the Auditor can’t reveal what he learned about the way Foster did or did not account for his $76,000 in renovations on the public dime. But anyone else can.
The only rules here are parliamentary conventions of secrecy. And those can and should change. That’s what happened in Britain when similar scandals erupted three years back.
Maybe, if the veil is lifted, we’ll find out that, like some of the Brit MPs who flaunted accountability, Mr Foster built himself a moat.
P.S. the British scandal came to light when someone – maybe an auditor – leaked MP expense claims.
P.S.S. Something I find funny: Foster wants the person who leaked his expense problem investigated and even charged with breaking the (non-existent) law. But if you look at the Auditor General Act, one of two exceptions to Auditor confidentiality is in the case of a court proceeding. In that case the Auditor’s free to reveal all.
Methinks no Liberal is going to take up Mr. Foster’s call.