01/19/2012 11:40 EST | Updated 03/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia premier shrugs off backbencher's criticism of auditor general

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says there are no plans to boot an NDP backbencher from a legislative committee after he spoke out against the province's auditor general.

The opposition Conservatives are calling on Dexter to remove Howard Epstein from the public accounts committee in light of his comments toward Jacques Lapointe.

During a committee meeting Wednesday, Epstein said it was inappropriate for Lapointe to question the ethics of government debt.

Epstein told Lapointe that his comments strayed into areas of general economics and public policy that go beyond what is expected of someone in his role.

Tory house leader Chris d'Entremont said Epstein — a veteran member of the legislature — showed "complete disrespect" toward the auditor general's office.

"Mr. Lapointe has full authority to comment on risks to Nova Scotians and that's what he did yesterday," d'Entremont said in a statement Thursday.

"This is just the latest example of the NDP shooting the messenger."

Dexter said while he did not hear Epstein's comments, his caucus colleague isn't known for hiding his feelings.

"Howard always expresses his opinion," Dexter said. "It's just a part of his character and his participation in all his political activities."

Dexter said he believes there's room for politicians of all stripes to do the same.