Being Liberal with money

Image of Christy Clark by  Jason Payne/PNG Files/Vancouver Sun.
Image of Christy Clark by Jason Payne/PNG Files/Vancouver Sun.

A penny for your thoughts on Clark’s governing

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

“I think giving people raises didn’t sit well with citizens. I certainly heard that over the last week.” Christy Clark, ladies and gentlemen. “I take responsibility for it. I’m the premier and I’m fixing it.”

It seems to be a regular routine for Clark and her BC Liberals: try to slip one past the public in broad daylight, seem slightly shocked when the ruse is discovered, and then “take responsibility for it” while attempting to come across as understanding. Clark’s latest escapade, in which she endeavoured to dole out some generous salary increases, comes right on the heels of the election victory. Amusingly, since Clark lost her riding, she had collected $5,876 in severance pay, but was apparently going to pay it back—or at least that was the story once the Times Colonist called her on it.

In any case, this latest blip on the radar has helped highlight just how much money is being tossed around in Canadian politics. The numbers need little explanation: were Clark’s raises to have held up, her deputy chief of staff, Michele Cadario, would have been set to earn $195,148 (her reduced raise will still see her make $175,000), and the maximum salary number would have gone up to $230,000. Kim Haakstad, the previous deputy, took in a paltry $149,027. For comparison’s sake, Ontario’s deputy chief of staff sees an income of $161,054. Meanwhile, Christy Clark makes $193,500; her own deputy would have out-earned her.

Just when all that nonsense has started to settle in, keep in mind that Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, only makes $172,200.

One can’t forget that on top of these top-dollar salaries, anyone who serves at least six years in Legislature qualifies for a pension. The top six on that list of pensioners stand to receive $1.5 million and up, based on their reaching the age of 80. Gordon Campbell’s pension starts at $98,000 per year. Meanwhile, the last lottery ticket I bought was for $1.2 million.

If there was any doubt about where that pension money comes from, it’s from the common man. The old NDP pension plan (1996) meant that for every dollar an MLA contributed, taxpayers would contribute a dollar as well. However, in 2007, the BC Liberals changed that to a 1:4 ratio.

Justification for any of these numbers is always a reach at best. Coming back to Christy Clark’s deputy chief of staff, Clark explained that Cadario’s position now includes duties formerly performed by a director of policy. In other words, for only $25,000 more, Cadario is now doing the jobs of two high-salaried people. Unless she’s simply one of the most efficient human beings on the planet, it’s more likely that the director of policy really didn’t do much, thus failing to justify a generous income, or the former position’s responsibilities are actually being spread out over several people.

Those in politics often employ the excuse that they are giving up some of the prime earning years of their lives. What does that even mean? They’re all making near or over a six-figure salary; since when is that a burden? It makes no cents.