Liberals boycott vote on unilingual auditor general
Published Thursday, November 3, 2011 10:48PM EDT
A motion to approve Canada's new auditor general was passed in the House of Commons Thursday, but without the support of the Liberals who staged a boycott and walked out in protest.
The resolution passed 153 to 94 in favour of Michael Ferguson's appointment.
In a blog, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said his party opposed the appointment because Ferguson does not speak French.
"How can an Auditor General -- whose job it is to protect Canadian taxpayers -- do his job effectively if he does not speak French?" Rae wrote.
"And how can this government -- that initially stated bilingualism was a requirement for the job -- change the rules on Canadians at the 11th hour just to get their way? Liberals agree: they cannot."
The resolution will also have to be approved by the Senate.
The 10-year appointment pays an annual salary of $334,500.
Since the Conservatives have a majority in Parliament, the third-place Liberals' boycott is more a symbolic gesture than anything else.
Rae began threatening last week that he and his party would oppose the appointment, after it became public that Ferguson is not bilingual.
Ferguson has vowed to be proficient in French within one year.
The new auditor general will succeed Sheila Fraser, who is bilingual, and had held the job since 2001. John Wiersema has filled the role on an interim basis since May.
In the blog posted on the Liberal party of Canada's website, Rae called on Canadians to express their disapproval of the appointment of a unilingual auditor general.
Rae included a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to reconsider the appointment until a bilingual candidate could be found.
"It is impossible for us to accept the ritually re-stated comment that the 'best candidate' was successful," Rae said in the letter to Harper.