Partisan attack fails to address real problem

Conservative leader's call for Barisoff's resignation fails to address the root problem in Auditor General's report

It seems a shame that with such a wealth of possibilities, the best that Conservative leader John Cummins could do with a damning audit of legislature finances was to take a shot at Bill Barisoff.

It’s clear from Auditor General John Doyle’s report last week that some major reform is needed when it comes to finances at B.C.’s Legislature. And in response to the disturbing report, which concluded that financial practices at the legislature were little short of a train wreck, there appears to be some badly needed change on the way.

It’s a sad truth that politicians and bureaucracies of every stripe play fast and loose with the public purse at times. In this case, it is dramatic how far out of whack things have gotten; Doyle’s report concluded a $1.3 billion adjustment was needed. And without a doubt, Doyle’s report is going to play against the Liberals with an election less than a year away.

But surely Cummins could have found a better political target than taking a shot at Barisoff — now in his second term as Speaker of the House — questioning his conduct while calling for his resignation. True, as Speaker, Barisoff holds overall responsibility for the House’s finances, but there are a couple of factors that need to be considered here.

First, Barisoff does not stand alone. As Speaker, he is also chair of the nonpartisan Legislative Assembly Management Committee, where the true responsibility lies. Then too, the books didn’t get out of whack based on either a single man or even a single administration’s doing.

But it is against the system that allowed this mismanagement to go on for so long that Cummins should be directing his ire, not against a man or even a party.

The province doesn’t need rhetoric. It needs real change.