Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Vol. 6 No. 2 (2015)

Progressive Era Financial Reform in New Brunswick: Abolishing the Auditor General

  • Brent White
October 30, 2015


In 1918, following a series of financial scandals, the government of New Brunswick passed a new Audit Act, section 44 of which stated “the office of the Auditor General is hereby abolished.” The government contracted the audit function to a representative firm from the expanding public accounting industry, and the auditor general model did not re- emerge until fifty years later. This article examines how the abolition resulted from a confluence of forces, in which a new Liberal government was responding to a series of financial scandals associated with the previous administration. In supporting these changes, the government used the professionalizing technical language of the Progressive Era to modernize key financial functions. The government was heavily influenced by consulting advice provided by Price Waterhouse, chartered accountants, a prominent international accounting firm. The resulting changes, while improving the financial systems of the government, weakened the accountability of the executive branch to the legislative assembly, marking an early step in the decline of legislative control over the public purse in Canada.