Se­nate looks for de­tails about fate of dis­graced sen­a­tor’s pen­sion

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is blam­ing its Con­ser­va­tive pre­de­ces­sor for the fact Don Mered­ith will be able to col­lect an an­nual pen­sion now that the dis­graced On­tario sen­a­tor has for­mally re­signed his seat in the up­per cham­ber.

Mered­ith’s res­ig­na­tion be­came of­fi­cial Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon af­ter it ar­rived at Rideau Hall, putting an end to his time in the Se­nate.

That de­ci­sion pro­vided Mered­ith a fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit, en­sur­ing he would re­ceive a reg­u­lar an­nual pen­sion pay­ment rather than a one-time — and sig­nif­i­cantly lower — lump-sum pay­out.

A sen­a­tor or MP who is ex­pelled is only en­ti­tled to col­lect the con­tri­bu­tions they made to the pen­sion plan.

Trea­sury Board Pres­i­dent Scott Bri­son, whose de­part­ment over­sees par­lia­men­tary pen­sions, said there is noth­ing in the law that would al­low his de­part­ment to deny ben­e­fits from a sen­a­tor or mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who re­signs.

Amend­ing the pen­sion rules would re­quire leg­isla­tive change that wouldn’t ap­ply to Mered­ith, Bri­son noted Wed­nes­day af­ter the gov­ern­ment’s weekly cau­cus meet­ing.

“Even if an act of Par­lia­ment were changed, it would not ap­ply retroac­tively,” he said.

“So let’s be very clear on what can or can­not be changed and not try to spin this and de­flect re­spon­si­bil­ity from (for­mer prime minister) Stephen Harper and the Con­ser­va­tives.”

Bri­son wouldn’t say whether the act should be changed, nor would he pro­vide more de­tails about the law it­self when pressed by re­porters.

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