Significant pay raises for MPs and senators are guaranteed to
provoke visceral opposition from taxpayers, all the more so when
the reputation of Parliament is probably at one of the
lowest points in Canada's history. It isn't so much a
raise that rankles the public as the size of the
increase, and that's the problem with a 20 per cent
salary raise proposed by a government-appointed commission on parliamentary compensation.
Fair-minded people can accept that federal politicians have not exactly
enriched themselves in public office in recent years. The pay
of MPs and senators is well behind senior federal bureaucrats
and below that of judges and labour executives. If Canada
is to attract and retain talented people to manage the
nation's affairs, the pay shouldn't lag to a point where
it becomes a disincentive.
The trouble is that the 20 per cent increase, a
so-called catch-up rate, is way beyond the rate of inflation
and an amount most working Canadians can only dream of.
It would boost MPs' base salaries to $131,400, while senators
would earn $105,840. Factor in rich parliamentary pensions that outshine
almost anything in the private sector, and the result is
a package that is fairer to politicians than taxpayers. The
commission stumbled even more in proposing a 42 per cent
increase for Prime Minister Jean Chretien, an outlandish amount even
though the PM is underpaid compared to the highest-ranking members
of the bureaucracy and judiciary. Source.