Volume 95, Issue 2
Thursday, May 31, 2001
Give Chretien the raise he deserves
Somebody ought to give Jean Chretien a hand. Or a pat on the back. Or maybe a slap. It depends where you stand.
On Tuesday morning, Chretien announced his support for a 20% hike in cash flow to members of the House of Commons. His words were splattered across the headlines as blatantly as writing on the wall.
In one respect, I have to say I am proud of Jean for owning up to what he believes in. At present, a federal MP is paid $69,100 before tax and enjoys a tax-free expense account to the tune of $22,800, which he or she can spend at his or her own discretion.
That all adds up to about $109,000 per year before tax, which make them look like well-paid little capitalist piggies at first glance.
But when you take into account the fact most politicians have families – a great image-builder for those damn reccurring elections – and likely two homes to pay for, depending on his or her proximity to Ottawa, not to mention those nasty little luxuries us North Americans have come to call necessities – you know, lap-tops, cell phones, luxury automobiles, swimming pools – it's not a whole lot of dough to work with.
Compared to the politicians running around with wallets stuffed full of old family money below the border, Canadian MP's are making peanuts.
On top of all that, one has to look at the big picture.
Consider that the leaders of our country get paid less than a second string professional baseball player. They have less benefits than an American college basketball player and probably lead a less luxurious life than your average used-car salesman.
Federal MP's are effectively being punished as politicians. Many of them have led successful careers in a variety of fields outside of politics in the past, which makes me wonder first, about the kind of people who are calling the shots for our country, and second, about the kind of people who could be leading our country.
While many of our politicians have backgrounds in law or business, I think I can safely argue the brightest bulbs have yet to crawl – or be lured – out of the woodwork and into the fabric of Canada's political canvas.
The bigger question is whether or not they will ever allow themselves to be drawn out of the corner offices of the multi-billion dollar corporations if MP's requests for a pay raise is denied.
We live in an era where, although most of us appreciate tradition, material
wealth could not have more of an influence on our daily rhythms. And while
it may not be the best idea for parliament to adopt a formula to automatically
increase their salaries without having to pass a bill, it may not be such
a bad idea to offer some incentive for the worthy elites of our country
to take the plunge into Canadian politics.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000