Tuesday May 8, 2007
A greedy pay raise
By BILL TIELEMAN
Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
Greedy, nasty little piggies.
Those would be B.C. Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly who plan to increase their pay by a whopping 29 per cent to $98,000 a year and add a pension plan worth 37 per cent of their salary.
And B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell would get a 53 per cent raise, to $186,200 from $121,100, while cabinet ministers would jump to $147,000 from $115,000.
Liberal MLAs would also get $19,000 a year to maintain Victoria homes - while the Legislature sits just 75 days a year.
This proposal is outrageous, unfair to taxpayers and should be rejected immediately. The highly-paid commissioners who recommended it are out to lunch.
MLAs already make $76,100 plus extras, plus annual RRSP contributions worth $6,849.
Take a reality check, you greedy little piggies.
Current MLA pay is more than 90 per cent of all British Columbians make and is indexed to go up about one per cent annually.
Average full-time B.C. wages are about $38,500 - or half of the MLAs' existing pay - while 1.8 million people here make under $30,000 a year. Only six per cent of B.C. taxpayers make more than $100,000.
And the average B.C. RRSP contribution is $3,000, under half what MLAs already get, while only 31 per cent of Canadians even make RRSP contributions.
To her credit, NDP leader Carole James has rejected the pay raise plan, saying her MLAs will vote no.
But here's the nasty part - the B.C. Liberals may introduce an "opt-out" clause to force MLAs who don't want to take this obscene package to sign a form saying they will never take the pension or increase. Those MLAs could actually lose their existing RRSP contribution.
This is despicable and shows how desperate the Liberals are to force the NDP MLAs into accepting their plan. They don't want angry voters to be able to punish their party come election day and they hope NDP MLAs will do the wrong thing by accepting the pay package.
This is the defining moment for James and her caucus. They could even win the next provincial election if they hold a principled position and go strongly on the attack.
James should announce that if elected government, the NDP will retroactively rescind the B.C. Liberal pay package - wipe it out.
She should also say that any NDP MLA who votes in favour will be immediately thrown out of her caucus - there can only be one position on this critical issue.
But voters of all political stripes who oppose this greedy plan must force Gordon Campbell and B.C. Liberals MLAs to drop their legislation - or face certain defeat in the next provincial election.
Contact Campbell and all MLAs now, before it's too late.