Michael Ferguson, Canada’s auditor general for the past seven years, has died of cancer at the age of 60.
Ferguson died Saturday in Ottawa surrounded by his wife, Georgina, and sons, Malcolm and Geoffrey, his office said.
“Mr. Ferguson had been undergoing treatment for cancer since last November. Unfortunately, the treatment was unsuccessful,” a statement from his office said.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mr. Ferguson’s wife and sons at this difficult time.”
A spokeswoman from the auditor general’s office said Ferguson had not taken leave from his duties while he was seeking cancer treatment.
“He was still very much involved in the management of the office. This is actually quite sudden,” said Francoise Guyot, the office’s director of external communications.
Mike Ferguson’s lifetime of exemplary service to Canadians and his important work as Auditor General will have a lasting impact on our country. My deepest condolences to his wife Georgina, his sons, and his loved ones.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 2, 2019
Ferguson was appointed auditor general by then prime minister Stephen Harper in November 2011.
Opposition parties initially refused to endorse him because he did not speak French, but he since managed to learn the language and gained widespread respect for his solid reports about government spending.
Prior to holding the federal post, Ferguson served a variety of roles in the New Brunswick government, including five years as the province’s auditor general.
Craig Scott, a university professor who serves on a panel of advisers to the auditor general, said he was notified by the auditor general’s office about over a month ago that Ferguson’s cancer had returned in recent weeks.
“I was stunned,” said Scott.
Ferguson graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1980 with a bachelor of business administration, and went on to earn his chartered accountant designation in 1984.
He often strayed from the protocol of former auditor generals when he presented his reports, expressing frustration with the federal government’s perpetual fixation with process at the expense of getting results.
The statement from Ferguson’s office said he was “much appreciated by his staff and respected by parliamentarians and government officials alike.
“He cared deeply about conducting audits that brought value to the public service, always for the greater good of Canadians,” the statement read.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ferguson will be remembered for his “tireless dedication to promote a transparent, open government that is accountable to Canadians.”
“His important work over the past seven years as auditor general has helped strengthen our democracy and maintain the integrity that Canadians expect from our public institutions,” he said in a statement.