Is there an auditor in the house?

Your humble organ has reported at length on the appointment of provincial Liberal supporter Louise Burgart to the non-partisan electoral boundary commission. And now, some New Democrats suspect the Campbell administration is attempting manipulate the hiring process for another supposedly non-partisan post - the auditor general. At issue: during the last public accounts committee meeting, Liberal members pushed through a motion authorizing an executive search firm to put together a list of potential successors for Wayne Strelioff, whose terms expires in May.

Twice before, the clerk of committees has done that job - ensuring non-partisanship. And, in an interview with Public Eye, New Democrat committee member Bruce Ralston questioned whether the headhunting industry could maintain the same standard, noting four executive search firms donated their time to identify potential senior bureaucrats on behalf of the first Campbell administration.

"And, in 2001, you'll recall the first person selected by an executive search firm (for one of those posts) was the president of provincial Liberal party (Andrew Wilkinson)," added Mr. Ralston. But, when it comes to hiring an auditor general - because the successful candidate must be unanimously approved by the public accounts committee - the former New Democrat party president says "It's not so much a question of who's on the list but who's off the list."

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