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Eric Foster swinging back as ‘objectivity’ questioned

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster is refuting the latest allegations of conflict of interest.

John Doyle, B.C.’s auditor general, has suggested Foster should have not been involved in discussions about his contract because Doyle had expressed concerns about expense documents related to Foster.

“He is entitled to his opinion,” said Foster.

“The process has been followed properly.”

Given a report into renovations at Foster’s office in 2010, Doyle says Foster would have been “wise” to step aside as chairperson of the legislative committee considering whether Doyle should remain on the job.

Doyle says he also objects to a question he was asked during his interview with the committee.

“I was underwhelmed by a question I got in the conduct of the interview that made it quite clear to me that I had good reason to doubt his objectivity in respect to his role as chair,” Doyle said of Foster.

“I’m thinking about how to deal with that.”

Foster was upset when asked about Doyle’s comments.

“I would suggest that meeting was in-camera. I am not commenting,” he said.

Foster insists he was not aware of Doyle’s report about his expense documents when he was named committee chairperson.

“The auditor general had never contacted me about this,” he said.

Foster has stated he only became aware of the report two weeks ago when he was approached by the Victoria Times Colonist.

Asked why he didn’t step aside then to avoid a potential conflict of interest, Foster said, “We were pretty much done the process at that time.”

The committee has been under fire for a two-week-old decision not to renew Doyle’s contract after six years on the job.

It was decided on Wednesday, though, to ask Doyle to remain in his role for another two years.

“There’s been an ongoing discussion over the last week and a half,” said Foster

Doyle says he won’t make a decision on accepting the two-year extension until February when the Legislature votes on whether he should be reappointed.

“This isn’t an offer-and-acceptance situation,” Doyle said.

But Foster is adamant that back-and-forth negotiations with Doyle won’t occur.

“Our committee has made an offer and we’re done. It’s up to him to reply or not,” said Foster.

Foster says a factor in the committee reconsidering its earlier decision was a recommendation from Premier Christy Clark  that Doyle be kept on for two years and legislation be changed so future auditor generals are appointed for eight years with no chance for renewal.

— with files from Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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