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.