NEWS RELEASE · 30th July 2012
BC Conservative Party
New Democrat Dawn Black should serve as Interim Speaker until new election
Bill Barisoff, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, must resign from that position so as to restore British Columbians' confidence in the expenditure of public monies, John Cummins, leader of the BC Conservatives, said today.
"Page after page of the Auditor General's scathing report on the legislature's failure to maintain the necessary accounting records points the finger for blame squarely at Speaker Barisoff," said Cummins.
"Not only has he failed to implement recommendations to improve accountability that were made by the Auditor General five years ago, he has exhibited a lackadaisical - almost negligent - attitude towards the use or mis-use of taxpayers' funds.
"Especially troubling is the disclosure that Speaker Barisoff specifically requested the Auditor General to not examine the $119,000 annual constituency office allowance provided to each MLA.
"With 85 MLAs, that's a total expenditure of more than $10 million each and every year, but Mr. Barisoff did not want that spending to be scrutinized," said Cummins. "Well, British Columbians want to know, 'why not?'"
Released on Thursday, July 26, the report by the Auditor General - entitled Audit of the Legislative Assembly's Financial Records - cited numerous examples where Barisoff failed to safeguard public monies.
* "... the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, the governing body of the Legislative Assembly, appears to have had little or no involvement in either providing governance over the Legislative Assembly's financial and operational activities, or in this audit." (Page 5.)
* "The Speaker ... is responsible for the 'day-to-day administration of the Legislative Assembly' and serves as Chair of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee." (Page 8.)
* "In 2007, my Office released Special Audit Report to the Speaker: The Financial Framework Supporting the Legislative Assembly. This audit identified a number of areas for improvement .... My ongoing audit work and discussions with management indicated that no action had been taken to address any of the 2007 report recommendations." (Page 9.)
* "The Legislative Assembly ... does not produce financial statements, despite my office's 2007 report recommendation to do so." (Page 10.)
* "At the request of the Speaker, I did not audit, at this time, the use of the $119,000 annual Constituency Office Allowance provided to each Member of the Legislative Assembly, except to the extent to which it was used to pay the salaries of Constituency Office Assistants ...." (Page 10.)
* "There are significant deficiencies in the financial control and governance of the Legislative Assembly's financial affairs." (Page 10.)
* "During my audit I determined that internal control deficiencies were so serious and pervasive that I was unable to conclude whether the Legislative Assembly's trial balance for the years ended March 31, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were fairly stated." (Page 11.)
* "I also noted two instances where expenses were intentionally reclassified from one fiscal year to another to ensure that expenses were within budget." (Page 11.)
* "... the Legislative Assembly has not prepared bank reconciliations for several years ...." (Page 11.)
* "... the Legislative Assembly ... was consistently unable to provide documentation to support Members' travel expenses." (Page 12.)
* "During my audit I found significant departures from Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in many important areas." (Page 13.)
* "... the Legislative Assembly's financial records for its bank and appropriation accounts were materially misstated." (Page 13.)
* "... the Legislative Assembly has not established inventory accounts for either its dining room or gift shop." (Page 14.)
* "My office's 2007 Special Audit Report to the Speaker included a recommendation that the Legislative Assembly Management Committee regularly review reports of actual to budget spending. However, during my audit I noted that the Legislative Assembly management has only recently started to prepare periodic financial reports for the Legislative Assembly Management Committee's review." (Page 15.)
Cummins noted that Barisoff, the BC Liberal MLA for Penticton, has been Speaker for almost seven years, having won election to the position in September 2005.
In the latest fiscal period, 2011/12, B.C. taxpayers paid Barisoff a total of $170,857, of which $51,069 was for his role as Speaker.
Cummins concluded by saying that the Assistant Deputy Speaker, Dawn Black, NDP MLA for New Westminster - who first won election to the legislature in 2009, and has announced her decision not to seek re-election - should serve as Interim Speaker until the House resumes sitting. All MLAs at that time may decide to elect a new Speaker.
Comment by David on 3rd August 2012
No bank reconciliations for several years? Liberal Party line: all British Columbians should be fiscally responsible -- except members of the govt.
Comment by James Ippel on 31st July 2012
Cummins, you are a hasbeen. Why don't you retire gracefully instead of making waves where you are not wanted.
Shane Simpson, NDP MLA even said on the Bill Good show today that the committee must work together to find answers. Even he did not point fingers or lay blame, and he is a member of the committee.
Who are you??? A Hasbeen who could'nt make it in Federal politics, and now is trying to make waves Provincially. Get a life.