Greens vs the Auditor General

April 1, 2013 at 10:50 am

Greens who believe that the rules don’t apply to them are now part of government itself.

PacificCarbonTrust_board

Pacific Carbon Trust’s board of directors – click for more info

Here in Canada, we have a watchdog position called the Auditor General. It examines whether public money is being spent wisely, and whether government entities are meeting their obligations.

Last week, an Auditor General released a remarkable report titled An Audit of Carbon Neutral Government. It says that British Columbia (aka BC, our most westerly province) declared its intention back in 2007 to become “carbon neutral by 2010″ – a goal it later announced it had met.

Before explaining why that claim is nonsense, a letter signed personally by Auditor General John Doyle appears on pages 3-4 of this report. The second last paragraph includes remarks that should be ringing alarm bells across the land:

Of all the reports I have issued, never has one been targeted in such an overt manner by vested interests, nor has an audited organization ever broken my confidence, as did the senior managers at [Pacific Carbon Trust] by disclosing confidential information to carbon market developers and brokers. The orchestrated letter-writing campaign from domestic and foreign entities which followed this disclosure demanded considerable staff time, and resulted in the delay of this report. I cannot sufficiently express my surprise and disappointment that a public sector entity, with a fiduciary duty to the people of British Columbia, chose to expend its time and energy in this manner, rather than addressing the concerns raised in the audit – and that they did so with the knowledge of their governing board. [bold added]

These words are important. No less an authority than an Auditor General is telling us that greens think that the rules everyone else is expected to live by don’t apply to them. It is the Auditor General’s job to scrutinize, to shine a light on government failings. Everyone understands this. Except the greens.

When they find themselves on the receiving end of criticism (something they themselves dish out non-stop) do environmentalists acknowledge their shortcomings and say they’ll try harder? Nope. That sort of maturity is clearly beyond them.

Instead, they violate government confidentiality by leaking documents to their friends. They get their pals in foreign countries to write letters of complaint. In chorus, they all insist it’s the Auditor General who’s in the wrong, not them.

It’s important to understand that greens who behave this way are now inside government itself. The Pacific Carbon Trust is a government entity, paid for with tax dollars. As Doyle says, it has a legal and ethical duty to serve the interests of ordinary citizens. Instead, it chose to attack the Auditor General – a wildly inappropriate course of action that took place “with the knowledge” of its board of directors.

Info about that seven-member board appears here (click each photo for a bio). The chairman is Chris Trumpy. As a former Deputy Minister of Finance, he definitely knows better. So should Steve Hnatiuk, Heather Holden, Anne Lippert, James Mutter, Michael Watson, and Margaret Mason.

The government of BC needs to make it clear that greens will be held to the same standard as everyone else. It needs to send a clear message that there is a proper way to respond to an Auditor General’s report – and that the Pacific Carbon Trust failed that test. Spectacularly.

Public confidence needs to be restored. This entire board of directors must be replaced.

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Tomorrow’s post will examine the Auditor General’s findings.

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