Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BC NDP MLAs kneecap themselves with pension while greedy Liberal MLAs laugh on way to bank

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 22, 2007


NDP blew its chance

By BILL TIELEMAN

Oh I used to be disgusted,
And now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have got rusted,
You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

- Elvis Costello, "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes"

Politics isn't fair.

If they were, the B.C. Liberals would be burning in political hell for giving themselves an obscene pay raise last week for a minimum of 29 per cent and up to 53 per cent for Premier Gordon Campbell.

And they wouldn't be able to sleep at night after voting in a gold-plated pension plan worth 37 per cent of their salary - one that will pay Campbell $2.2 million through age 80 and some others more than $1 million.

Instead the Liberals laugh their way to the proverbial bank while the New Democrats come out both poorer and electorally kneecapped.

Amazingly, NDP MLAs put the pistol to the patella themselves. And it may cost them not only the $29,000 raise they will give up to charity, but also the chance to form government in 2009.

That's because they just couldn't turn down the lucrative pensions proposed by the Liberal-appointed commission of wealthy professionals, even after NDP leader Carole James said her MLAs would reject the whole package.

James was right all along. And had the NDP run a province-wide campaign against the pot of gold plan they could have killed it. Even if the plan passed, they would be in excellent position to trash the B.C. Liberals through the next election.

But the NDP MLAs couldn't do it - they wanted the pension plan themselves.

When 24 hours' Sean Holman exclusively reported that the commission had changed its recommendations without the approval of one of the three commissioners, the NDP had a golden opportunity to kill the proposal.

Commissioner Sandra Robinson said the recommendations were changed when she was in Europe and that she had "quite a few" disagreements with them. The NDP should have gone crazy about a tainted report and abused process.

Instead, not one comment. NDP MLAs refused all media requests for interviews and said nothing about it in the Legislature.

So while Campbell is a greedy hypocrite who successfully campaigned to kill the previous pension back in 1996, the NDP MLAs have managed to get him off the hook.

They've distanced themselves from their own lower- and middle-income voters, people who will never get a pension worth up to millions of dollars, and who will never make the $76,000 MLAs already make that puts them in the top 10 per cent of taxpayers.

As Elvis Costello concluded:

"But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain / that's when I knew that I could not refuse."

And so the NDP angels' wings have rusted.

13 comments:

Deep Throat said...

Yes, our "honourable" Premier certainly does seem like to use the independent "third party" process where “miraculously” it ends up going to where he wants it to go in spite of some protests to the contrary that the “fix was in”! This is just but the latest example of his favorite “modus operandi”. One should not forget that he has used this strategy before with the BC Rail RFP process and the subsequent “cover up”. Of course, he also likes to use the “poisoned pawn” maneuver when it suits his interests as is in fish farm MLA Committee structure. After all, it is important for him to be “seen” as a very “fair” and “generous” man!

Anonymous said...

You tried Bill, you tried.

Now they have to wear it. Even if opposition MLAs were to change their minds and opt out, they'd just look like the inconsistent, thoughtless flip-floppers they were the last time Carol James and crew tried and failed to address this pay issue.

I don't think the learning curve was that difficult. Maybe it is time for a new party to represent progessive interests in this province.

For someone like myself, who has supported the NDP all my life, it is a very sad day.

And I know I'm not alone on this one.

Anonymous said...

why do I feel like i'm continuously painted into a corner? Our leaders always shoving things down my throat when they are not wanted. This pay raise being the latest 'trick', that my every 4th year chance to vote will have no effect. I'm beginning to see where civil disobediance comes from...extreme frustration!

Deep Throat said...

Bill:

Where's Waldo (Gordo) in the pictures under your photo?

brian said...

While I am not surprised the liberals, unless a huge outcry from BCers occurs, will pass the compensation package, I agree that the NDP lost a golden opportunity to take the high road on this issue. But it appears the NDP has as much greed as the Liberals.

It is sad that British Columbians haven't started a grass roots campaign to thwart this indecent compensation package.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Ms.James doesn't get stategy lessons from some one? Mike Smythe covered the scenario in his Province Column today 9Thursday)He sure isn't a left of cneter guy. But Bill and David Schreck have worked with the previous government and one might think the opposition might get some guidence from such folk. Short term gain seems to override anything. as Schreck says, very few NDP MLA's would qualify right now and a number might not be around for the next day we the voters get our chance to put down our x. The Liberal may be a greedy bunch and many would qualify for the pension right now, the NDP seem either shrot sighted or just as greedy. The party of the poor and working folks have shot themselves in the foot. dl

Dennis Watson said...

Herein we once again see the true definition of politics emerge while the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer...

Politics:

Poly meaning many

tics meaning blood sucking parasites.

Yes the Liberals are Greedy Pigs

Yes the NDP are Hypocrites

Welcome to our reality

Anonymous said...

Herein we once again see the true definition of politics emerge while the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer...

Politics:

Poly meaning many

tics meaning blood sucking parasites.

Yes the Liberals are Greedy Pigs

Yes the NDP are Hypocrites

Welcome to our reality

Budd Campbell said...

"James was right all along. ... But the NDP MLAs couldn't do it - ... "

In contrast to some of the comments here, to say nothing of numerous comments on PublicEye and elsewhere, Tieleman has the problem figured correctly. That reflects his actual knowledge of the true inner mechanics of the NDP, something people like Holman, Smyth and Palmer lack.

It wasn't Carol James who caused the NDP to end up at a distinctly sub-optimal positioning. On the contrary, she knew instinctively where public opinion, and with it electoral advantage lay. It was the majority of her MLAs. In other parties the Leader can impose things, but not in the concensus driven, and often concensus demolished NDP.

Now if the NDP loses the next election, many of those same MLAs who prevented the party from following James's lead will, with breath-taking insincerity, complain that it was James feeble leadership that was the party's undoing. And some of these MLAs already have designs on her job, which is one reason why they feel little restraint in terms of forcing a sub-optimal position on the party. In their calculus, by causing the party to loose favour and the next election, they further their own long-run cause by creating the very leadership opening they so desire!

Anonymous said...

No Budd, I don't think so. James doesn't even have the jam to answer her own emails. This is her problem, she created it and she blew it.

The time to oppose this so-called independent commission was when it was set up. She didn't and her remarks in the house on Bill 37 suffered becuse of it. As a leader, she is now dead in the water.

Every informed citizen knows exactly what went on in this case. Some opposition members could still save at least a modicum of their integrity by opting out. I think there is as much chance of that happening as there is that de Jong amd Campbell won't take a raise they don't deserve either.

So much for the 'people's party' and its representatives. Time for a new progressive party in this province.

The current one is dead.

Mark Crawford said...

Bill, I think there is a middle ground between the Tielman/Mair opposition to pay increases and the package recommended by the Commission majority and subsequently introduced into leglislation. (or between Campbell as the reform populist of 1997 and Campbell as the executive of the bourgeoisie in 2007)

It hinges fundamentally on (1) having a standard public sector pension, administered by the Public Service Commission and (2) having future changes to MLA compensation linked substantially to real incomes and wages in the province, instead of to future changes in the "managerial" job classification. The NDP could still get out of its corner, by making the additional commitment to a normal pension and maintaining a link (I suggest at least 50% of future raises)to the wider society.

I elaborate this at http://markcrawford.blogspot.com/2007/05/lending-democratic-ear-to-bc-mla-pay.html .

Mark Crawford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis Watson said...

I agree with Budd Campbell's post. Carol James is sincere, her MLA's are not. She was appeasing Lali. She should have cut him lose and kept her integrity: www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=0bc22e9e-b91e-483a-acf4-960baeed438a