Speaker of the House and Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff has announced he won’t be running for re-electionfollowing a scathing audit of MLA bookkeeping, which he is in charge of.  

Barisoff says it is time to pass the torch to the next generation and he looks forward to spending more time with his children and three young grandchildren. The 63-year-old has been with the BC Liberals for 16 years, and was the only Speaker of the House to be re-elected to the post in the past 40 years.

The announcement comes following a cloud of criticism from auditor general John Doyle of the Legislative Assembly Management Committeeover MLA salaries and expenses.

In July, Doyle released a statement that said the committee is falling short of basic financial management practices, and said the "messy" financial records were full of "substantial irregularities."

Sam Oliphant, spokesman for the BC Liberals, said Barisoff’s decision is not connected to the auditor general’s criticism.

“Bill’s not resigning -- he’s just not running again. He’ll be serving out his time on the committee,” said Oliphant. “Bill has been an MLA for 16 years. He knew running in 2009 it would be his last run, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise for us.”

Oliphant said the decision does not present a challenge to the party, as there are already new candidates coming forward in ridings where other Liberal MLAs announced they won’t be running again. Dave Hayer, Murray Coell, Kash Heed, Kevin Krueger and Harry Bloy all announced in recent months they will also not run for re-election.

“The next election we’ll have a strong mix of incumbent candidates as well as new candidates that bring in a new perspective of things,” said Oliphant.

As for the committee that came under fire, BC Government Caucus spokesman Ben James said they’ll be able to continue as usual without Barisoff.  

A statement released July 31 said “the committee will implement all recommendations made by the Auditor General since 2007,” and beginning in October, quarterly MLA expenses will be posted online.

James is confident Barisoff’s resignation will have “no bearing” on the committee’s ability to address the auditor general’s criticisms.

“At the end of the day, this has no impact on the committee,” said James.

With files from The Canadian Press.