Skip to main content

Canada Auditor-General Michael Ferguson remembered as a ‘fighter for accountability’

Auditor-General Michael Ferguson appears at Commons public accounts committee to discuss the Fall 2012 Report of the Auditor-General on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 25, 2012.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Michael Ferguson, Canada’s Auditor-General for the past seven years, died of cancer on Saturday at the age of 60.

Mr. Ferguson passed away in Ottawa surrounded by his wife, Georgina, and sons, Malcolm and Geoffrey, his office said in a statement.

Story continues below advertisement

“Mr. Ferguson will be remembered by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him as a humble, compassionate and thoughtful man,” his office’s statement said.

“He cared deeply about conducting audits that brought value to the public service, always for the greater good of Canadians.”

Mr. Ferguson, who was appointed Auditor-General by then-prime minister Stephen Harper in November, 2011, gained widespread respect for his hard-hitting reports about government spending.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose own government has often been in Mr. Ferguson’s crosshairs, said the New Brunswick native “devoted his life to public service,” both in his home province and across the country.

“We will remember him for his tireless dedication to promote a transparent, open government that is accountable to Canadians,” Mr. Trudeau said in a statement.

“His important work over the past seven years ... has helped strengthen our democracy and maintain the integrity that Canadians expect from our public institutions.”

Mr. Ferguson had been undergoing treatment for cancer since last November, his office said, although a spokeswoman said he had not taken leave from his duties.

Story continues below advertisement

“He was still very much involved in the management of the office. This is actually quite sudden,” said Francoise Guyot, the office’s director of external communications.

Craig Scott, a university professor who also serves as an adviser to the auditor-general, said Saturday that he was “stunned” by the news, adding he had met with Mr. Ferguson in November.

Mr. Scott, who teaches international law at Toronto’s York University, said he was notified by Mr. Ferguson’s office about a month ago that his cancer had returned in recent weeks.

“We knew he was taking a little step back from work. He was doing a little bit of work at home,” Mr. Scott said.

“Suddenly, we heard a few days ago that it had taken a turn for the worse.”

Last spring, Mr. Ferguson ripped the federal government for its treatment of Indigenous people, which he described as an “incomprehensible failure.”

Story continues below advertisement

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus, the party’s critic for Indigenous youth, applauded Mr. Ferguson on Twitter, calling him a “passionate fighter for accountability in public life.

“His denunciation of the ‘incomprehensible failure’ of government in relation to First Nation kids wasn’t about numbers — it was a moral challenge,” Mr. Angus tweeted on Saturday, adding that he was “deeply saddened” by Mr. Ferguson’s death.

Prior to holding the federal post, Mr. Ferguson served a variety of roles in the New Brunswick government, including five years as the province’s auditor-general.

Federal opposition parties initially refused to endorse him for the job because he did not speak French, but he managed to learn the language over the years.

MPs paid tribute to Michael Ferguson in the House of Commons on Monday. Ferguson, Canada’s Auditor-General for the past seven years, died of cancer Saturday at the age of 60. The Canadian Press
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter