Despite angry calls to phone-in shows and criticism from watchdog groups, Premier Dalton McGuinty said today he would not offer any apologies for giving Ontario politicians a 25 per cent pay raise.
When Ontario’s integrity commissioner issued a report last week recommending provincial politicians get a raise or risk becoming a ``farm team” for the House of Commons, the Liberal government said salary increases were not a priority.
But on Tuesday, the government introduced surprise legislation to allow the pay hike, and announced the legislature would extend its sitting until next week to ensure the bill passes before the Christmas break. “I changed my mind,” McGuinty admitted before a cabinet meeting. “I’ll be judged on this by Ontarians as I’ll be judged on all the things I do, but I want them to understand that I honestly believe this is the right thing to do.”
After complaints from backbenchers and party organizers about losing talent to higher-paying jobs in Ottawa or even in municipal politics, McGuinty said he decided a raise to three-quarters of a federal MP’s base salary would be appropriate. It will mean a $22,000 jump for backbenchers to $110,000, and a $39,000 raise for the premier to $198,620 a year.
“We shouldn’t apologize for saying all we’re looking for is a 25 per cent pay gap between MPPs of this house and members of Parliament,” McGuinty told the legislature. “I think it’s fair, I think it’s justifiable, and I think it’s high time.”
Just remember people, these are the same people who thought using taxpayer’s money as venture financing of a theatrical production of Bored of the Rings was not only a savvy business proposition but the proper use of the public coffers.
Now they want a 25% pay increase. Seriously, this makes me long nostalgically for the days of Mike Harris’ Ontario when there were real fiscal conservatives sitting in the provincial legislature building.
Since the Premier has shown such panache and largess in his re-branding efforts; I suggest its time to change the Ontario provincial motto from “Ontario Yours to Discover” to more accurately reflect the Liberal governance of this province to “Ontario – Liberals to Plunder.”
And what exactly is wrong with being the farm team? I rather like farmers, and if MPPs had to emulate any particular group in this country, I’d rather it was the farmers, than say - CUPE.