Virk shuffled to new job after Kwantlen flap

Probe into Virk's involvement in unauthorized payments to university executives wraps up, Premier Christy Clark moves him

Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark has moved embattled cabinet minister Amrik Virk out of his advanced education ministry role as the government wrapped up its probe into unauthorized signing bonuses for new executives at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Virk trades cabinet jobs with Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson, who was serving as technology, innovation and citizens’ services minister. The announcement came Thursday, after the government released the latest results of a probe of the Kwantlen hirings.

Virk was an inspector with the Langley RCMP and volunteer Kwantlen board member before being elected MLA for Surrey-Tynehead last year. In November, the NDP produced emails that contradicted Virk’s claim he was not involved in a decision to get around B.C. salary guidelines for university executives.

Virk said he forgot about an email exchange where he proposed a research allowance for then-University of Regina dean of business Ann Lavack for the position of vice-president academic at Kwantlen. B.C. public service pay rules limited the position to $170,000 a year, and Lavack took the job in 2011 with a $20,000 research allowance and a $50,000 “consulting fee” that were not reported to provincial officials.

Clark also announced three new cabinet assistant appointments.

• Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier takes a new position as parliamentary secretary for “energy literacy and the environment,” reporting to Environment Minister Mary Polak

• North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite is parliamentary secretary for child mental health and anti-bullying, reporting to Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux

• Penticton MLA Dan Ashton is parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Mike de Jong