The provincial government has removed Amrik Virk as Minister of Advanced Education, hours after it released an amended report confirming that he had been more involved in the hiring of a former vice-president at Kwantlen Polytechnic University – including a $50,000 pre-employment contract – than previously thought.
Virk has been moved to the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, replacing Andrew Wilkinson, who is now Minister of Advanced Education.
“It’s not quite an outright resignation, but it’s still embarrassing,” says Global BC Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey.
“They’ve clearly determined it’s not a firing offense, but it’s a moving offense.”
Virk, who had been Advanced Education Minister since his election in 2013, was criticized by the NDP over many months for his actions while serving on the board of Kwantlen.
It argued the board violated disclosure guidelines during the hiring of executives, giving them higher salaries than allowed.
A report in June by Rob Mingay, a high-level bureaucrat, found that while Virk’s actions were not acceptable, they did not warrant penalties.
However, months later the NDP revealed new emails that showed Virk personally emailed other board members on how to “top off” a salary offer to Anne Lavack, who was eventually hired as a vice-president.
That prompted Finance Minister Mike de Jong to order Mingay to review his report. He delivered it to de Jong today, saying that while “The information causes me to revise the statement of facts and the findings/conclusions in my report…It does not cause me to revise my recommendations.”
However, Mingay’s new report directly states “it is clear that certain members of KPU’s Board of Governors…were aware of Lavack’s offer letter and pre-employment contract.”
Virk was unavailable for comment today.
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