Bill Barisoff, the speaker of the B.C. legislature, says he won’t seek re-election in the next provincial election, but that he isn’t leaving over criticism of the management of legislature finances.
“Absolutely not,” he said Monday in an interview. “It has no bearing on it whatsoever.”
Rather, the Penticton MLA said he had decided to go because it’s time for a change after more than 30 years on elected office - 18 years as a school trustee and 16 years as a member of the legislature.
“I’m 63 years old. Now that I’ve got three little grandkids, you think about how much fun you have with them, and the time you have missed out with your family,” said Mr. Barisoff, who was first elected in 1996.
“And it’s a matter of thinking to yourself it’s time to let new people carry the torch.”
B.C. Auditor-General John Doyle had raised questions about the management of the legislature in a report last month, suggesting legislative-assembly finances suffer from “significant deficiencies,” including the sloppy handling of MLA travel expenses, and unreconciled bank accounts.
Mr. Doyle did not allege missing funds or other illegalities, but rather said the $63-million annual budget was not being effectively managed.
Mr. Barisoff said he took full responsibility for the problems, and resolved to deal with them. The committee of MLAs, headed by Mr. Barisoff, has promised various reforms including newly open meetings.
Mr. Barisoff, who ran his family trucking business before entering politics, has been speaker of the legislature since 2005. Previously, he was in cabinet as provincial revenue minister and minister of water, land and air protection.
He joins other government MLAs, who have decided not to seek another term, including Kevin Krueger in Kamloops-North Thompson, Surrey Tynehead’s Dave Hayer, Harry Bloy from Burnaby-Lougheed and Kash Heed from Vancouver-Fraserview.
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon and Education Minister George Abbott have said they are considering their options.