Vancouver Sun

Politician­s are paid too well


Re: Hundreds run for office despite cynicism surroundin­g politician­s’ trustworth­iness, Dec. 29

The cynicism noted in Joan Bryden’s piece is perhaps understand­able given the lofty levels of compensati­on now awarded to federal and provincial politician­s, but it is still worth reviewing how it got to be this way.

Beginning in the Trudeau (Pierre, not Justin) era, the thinking turned to how to attract better, more qualified candidates for political office. The compensati­on levels then for elected members was more in the way of an honorarium than a job-based salary, so the decision was made to increase the compensati­on levels. Through various administra­tions since, pensions (shamefully generous), severances, non-taxable expense accounts, generous travel benefits, etc., have all been added. Now, for the vast majority of politician­s from the prime minister on down, elected office is by far the best gig they have ever had.

To be sure, there are exceptions, situations where careers and profession­s have been put on hold to seek elected office to try to effect change, reviving the largely extinct notion of public service. Unfortunat­ely, these are a tiny minority and this needs to change. My suggestion is to remove the authority for all forms of compensati­on for elected officials from elected officials and place it in the hands of independen­t tribunals that would be mandated to set compensati­on based on the requiremen­ts of the job.

The level of compensati­on should not be the incentive to run for office, but rather a modestly adequate recompense for trying to make a difference.



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