Inside the legislature, Bill Barisoff is responsible for impartially interpreting its rules and traditions. But, outside the precincts, Public Eye has learned the speaker of the legislative assembly shares his Victoria accommodations with Premier Gordon Campbell - raising the eyebrows of one of the province's most seasoned political observers.
MLAs elect one of their colleagues to be the speaker at the start of each new parliament - with the government putting forward its preferred candidate in advance of that vote.
Once elected to that post, the MLA becomes the legislature's referee, setting aside partisanship to ensure elected officials on both sides of the aisle are treated fairly.
Mr. Barisoff, a Liberal, has been the speaker since September 2005, being re-elected to that job in August 2009.
But, in an email, a spokesperson for the premier's office confirmed that outside the legislature Mr. Barisoff rents the second bedroom in his condominium to Campbell when he stays overnight in the capital city.
Asked about that arrangement, the spokesperson stated Mr. Barisoff "reputation as a neutral and independent speaker who ensure both sides of the house follow established rules and procedures speaks for itself and we are not aware of any suggestion to the contrary."
"Every member has an equal opportunity to meet with the speaker," the spokesperson continued. "In fact, due to the premier's schedule he has less opportunity to meet with the speaker than most members."
But, in an interview with Public Eye, University of Victoria political science professor emeritus Norman Ruff said, "I don't think it's a hanging offence. But it makes you raise your eyebrows."
"I wouldn't turn around a jump around and condemn him for doing it. But the optics of it is not good," he continued. "It's probably preferable if (Mr. Barisoff) didn't" share his accommodations with the premier.
This isn't the first time Mr. Barisoff has raised eyebrows since being elected speaker.
Back in 2005, we reported he had appointed a Liberal supporter - Louise Burgart - to the non-partisan commission responsible for redrawing the boundaries of British Columbia's ridings.
Following extensive coverage of that appointment by Public Eye, Ms. Burgart - who owns and is a director with a ski resort in the speaker's riding - stepped down.