03/12/2014 18:18 EDT | Updated 05/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Liberals withdraw John Les $140K patronage appointment

The B.C. government has withdrawn the $140,000 a year consulting job it offered to former member of the legislative assembly John Les, following accusations of political patronage. 

On Tuesday, the province announced it was appointing Les to head a new earthquake preparedness consultation. 

Les is already a paid member of the government-appointed Farm Industry Review Board as well as a  registered paid lobbyist.

B.C. New Democrat MLA Shane Simpson called the appointment "outrageous" because "absolutely nothing makes him an expert in earthquake preparedness."

On Wednesday, Premier Christy Clark withdrew Les's appointment saying it does not fit with the government's plan to "control spending."

California expert to co-chair

The Liberals also appointed Henry Renteria, former director of California's Office of Emergency Services, to co-chair the consultation, which is expected to report back by the end of the year with recommendations to improve B.C.'s ability to deal with a catastrophic earthquake.

Initially, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton defended Les's appointment, insisting his experience as a former solicitor general and public safety minister made him a good choice to lead the process with Renteria.

"I am satisfied that Mr. Les has the expertise that is most useful to us in conducting this consultation. The goal here is to get a good product," she said.

She would not say, however, if there had been an open competition for the job or if the Liberal government had considered anyone other than their former colleague.

There is no word yet on who will be offered the appointment now that Les's offer has been withdrawn.