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Virk Removed as Advanced Education Minister, Handed Tech Portfolio

MLA's actions on Kwantlen University board have generated controversy.

Andrew MacLeod 18 Dec 2014TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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Amrik Virk was shuffled out of his position as Minister of Advanced Education. Credit: Leg.bc.ca.

Amrik Virk, whose actions while on the board of Kwantlen Polytechnic University have been the subject of controversy in the legislature, was today removed as minister of advanced education.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement mid-afternoon on Dec. 18, swapping Virk with Andrew Wilkinson. Virk moves to Wilkinson's old role as minister of technology, innovation and citizens' services.

"I think it's the right thing he's out of advanced education," said Kathy Corrigan, the NDP's advanced education critic.

However, the demotion doesn't go far enough, she said. "I don't think he should be minister of anything right now. I don't think he should be in cabinet."

Served on Kwantlen board

In the legislature the NDP had revealed that the board of Kwantlen, which had at the time included Virk, had in 2011 circumvented provincial policies that would have limited the pay of senior executives.

A review into the matter by finance assistant deputy minister Rob Mingay that was released in June 2014, found "there were failures to disclose under the compensation disclosure guidelines."

After the NDP tabled documents in the legislature this fall that showed more evidence of Virk's involvement, Mingay re-opened his investigation and today his amendments to his report were released.

Corrigan said Virk broke the rules, then tried to cover up his actions. "It shows there's an integrity issue here, and I don't think he should be rewarded with another cabinet position."

David Eby, who was formerly the NDP's advanced education critic and first raised the Kwantlen issue, said Virk lied to the legislature about his involvement.

"I do think it raises the question about why Mr. Virk is still in cabinet given his conduct,” Eby said.

Virk, a retired RCMP officer who'd been a volunteer on the Kwantlen board, was not immediately available for comment.

"These changes allow us to make the decisions necessary for a thriving province," Clark's announcement of the cabinet swap said.  [Tyee]

Read more: Education, BC Politics

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