Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Liberal MLAs want pay & pension raise? Greedy, nasty little piggies!

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 8, 2007

A greedy pay raise


Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

- Abraham Lincoln

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.


Anonymous said...

One MLA has already told me that since the team of three experts deided the pay increase was necessary, the RRSP allowance has been stopped.
Just istened to Norman spector, not left winger for sure, on CFAX radio. Norman says Campbell is short of political smarts and is trying to skooker the NDP with his take it or leave it routine. as Norma says, nobody says they can't get a raise but lets face it this is nuts.He mentioned inOntario the same sort of conditions were to be placed. The NDP there said no blody way. The minimum wage, just like here was part of the discussion. dl

Norm said...


I have already commented on the proposed pay increase on my own blog http://southfraserforum.blogspot.com/
But I really think the NDP can make political hay by attempting to make any pay increase contingent upon the raising of the BC minimum wage to $10/hour and a total elimination of the $6/hour training wage.

Norm said...


I have already published my thoughts on my own blog at http://southfraserforum.blogspot.com/ but I really think the NDP can make political hay on Campbell's winner take all approach.

Why not make any support for a pay increase contingent upon raising the BC minimum wage to $10/hour and a complete elimination of the "Six bucks sucks" training wage.

Budd Campbell said...

Bill, I agree that this report is ridiculously over generous. I could live with a 30% increase in the base pay off all MLAs (a bottom loaded adjustment), but when they bring back the pension plan that was terminated just ten years ago in response to public pressure, and then provide larger percentage increases to all the high-profile positions, it's just ends up way over the top.

However, I understand that some of the Liberal MLAs like Randy Hawes, a man far more clever than he's given credit for, are in a fighting mood and are prepared to disclose the contents of their income tax returns. You may recall a situation in Ottawa about five or more years ago when the federal MPs raised their pay. When reporters tried to critically question Prime Minister Jean Chretien about it, he just shot back that "you guys make way more money than I do." And the questions came to an abrupt halt.

Beware that you and Paul Willcocks, and Rafe Mair, and Norman Spector, and others may yet get called out on this thing and pressured to disclose your income tax returns for the last several years.

Anonymous said...

I'm a pensioner and have to accept less money a month that some of the raises. However I see no connection to the salaries of anyone doing columns or self employed ink stained wretches. I would have no interest to see the tax records. The difference is none of the fellows mentioned abover are elected, not can they vote for their salaries from the public purse. Spector did mention on air today the deal that John Crethien cooked up a few years ago

Anonymous said...

I would be very surprised if ANY ink stained wretch fell for the apples vs. oranges Jean Chretien /Randy Hawes gambit...

I don't see this group of NDP MLAs having the discipline to back their leader and refuse the $$...

I would like to see the three wise wonders go and look at ALL government funded pay though. $19,000 a year to maintain a home looks mighty fine next to the $4,500 a year folks on welfare get.

I love it when Campbell & Co. claim they need to attract 'the best and brightest' people to politics while leaving folks like Ralph Sultan withering on the vine. Sultan having to be subservient to a neanderthal like Kevin Krueger? What a waste of the best and brightest!

Budd Campbell said...

What is the relevant comparison base when deciding what to pay elected legislators, or unelected political aides?

Is it pensioners? Is it people on public assistance? Is it other legislators/aides in Ottawa and the other provincial capitals? Should the comparison include American state legislators in Washington, Oregon and Idaho?

Is it people in careers in BC other than politics or government whose jobs are thought to resemble those of an MLA in terms of responsibility, sills, intellectual demands, etc.? What would a short list of such jobs be?

I could suggest a few, such as high school principal, senior police detective, head nurse, bank branch manager, construction superintendant, airline pilot or railroad engineer, and probably many others as well. This commission didn't make any comparisons beyond looking at other legislators, a major oversight in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you are supposed to read the tea leaves, not roll them up and smoke 'em!

The NDP winning the next election over this pay raise?????? Be serious, please.

This increase is very long overdue and appropriate, regardless of plitical affiliation. You know as well as I do (since we have both spent more time in the Leg than combing our hair) that the job of MLA is incredibly more demanding and expansive than it used to be even five years ago. Most people don't know this, or see it, because they can't.

Stick to the Basi-Virk Trial--no one in the province is doing a better job covering it than you.

Anonymous said...

And now for news from Sean Holman via 24 hours: "One of the members of the independent commission on MLA compensation "has quite a few" disagreements with the panel's now controversial pay-and-pension plan recommendations. And she noted alterations were made when she was out of the country."


Sandra Robinson, a respected UBC business professor "later attempted to retract her on-the-record statements, which were recorded in a taped interview."

Anonymous said...

What I find amazing is that NONE of the media, blogs and other political forums have shown what these MLAs have received over the past 10 years. I cant find a thing on the net on how much their pay has increased over the past 10 years. I have been told, albeit not supported by any empirical data, that the MLAs have received pay increases to keep up with inflation over the past 10 years, which has ranged from .06% to 2.5% . What other increases, besides the COLA, have the MLAs received?

Would be interesting to have some NEWS editors and newscasts reveal such information, dont you think?

Bill Tieleman said...

Brian - I noted in my column that MLAs have received about .9% per year over the past 10 years - that's below inflation or cost of living increases, of course.

But you are right that information like that is hard to find.