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Friday, January 30, 2009

mla salary freeze honest or politically convenient?

I suppose Albertans are supposed to be grateful about the proposed voluntary salary freeze by PC MLAs? But just how seriously should we take this move?

It was only 8 months ago, when the price of oil was rolling high, that Premier Ed Stelmach and his Cabinet gave themselves a 30% to 34% pay hike in a closed-door meeting where Ministers hiked their salaries by $42,000, to $184,000, and Stelmach's by $54,000, to $213,450 (making Stelmach the highest paid Premier in Canada). As far as I can't remember, none of the 71 other PC MLAs publicly questioned the pay hike.

Albertans may also remember that in another closed-door Cabinet meeting nearly a year ago, Stelmach and his cabinet changed Alberta's proposed conflict-of-interest rules so that they wouldn't apply to any PC Ministers retiring or defeated after the March 3, 2008 election. This decision was made behind closed doors only hours before Stelmach called the 2008 election, and exempted out-going Ministers such as former Finance Minister Lyle Oberg and Energy Minister Greg Melchin.

So, when I hear Premier Stelmach tell Albertans that PC MLAs are "going to show leadership in this regard," I can't help but wonder why they didn't start showing leadership a year ago?

10 comments:

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian said...

At least a few at the time (Mason, Taft, etc.) complained about the process (justifiably so) but none seemed to think it was unreasonable. A bit frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Of course Dave had two pieces written, ready to go. The only one was going to be a tirade of how out of touch the PCs were by allowing the annual earnings indexation formula to stand (as Calgary city council did). But he had to go with this one instead.

Highest paid Premier in Canada (if only by a couple bucks). Wow! Sounds amazing, until you look at the compensation paid to a mid-level executive at one of the large oil & gas companies, or a senior partner at a law firm, or a university President. For all the grief, it is not a job I would take.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that dastardly Daveberta is always looking to beat up on poor, maligned Ed Stelmach. Right.

Anyway, let's look at the actual issues here:

1) Cabinet gave itself a 30% raise behind closed doors and, so far, has no plans to overturn that raise. So freezing MLA salaries isn't really the whole story.

2) MLA salaries are set by the all-party members' services committee, which of course is dominated by Conservative MLAs. So the motion to increase MLA pay came from the Conservative members of the committee--and I think the Liberals even voted against it. So the PC caucus magnaimously refusing this increase is completely sanctimonious.

Personally, I think politicians' salaries are given an undue amount of attention as a financial issue. But, that said, this is cynical posturing by the Conservatives. Dave is spot on.

Anonymous said...

Actually, yes, it probably is one of Dave's hobbies (like cowtipping and origami), but that's not the point.

By your logic, anonymous, that Swann talking about the exact same thing ahead of the decision was also cynical posturing? Even more cynical, really, since he wouldn't be the one to make the call and so it was easy to advocate for it. It goes ahead, you said it first. It doesn't, you talk about identifying with Everyman.

If you want to talk about real financial issues, talk about the coming cost of funding defined benefit pension plans for public service and unionized employees everywhere (not just in gov't) after the shellacking the stock market received last year. That'll keep you up at night.

Kyle said...

Any why don't people trust politicians? Crooks.

Generation Jones said...

I thought this topic was already beat up before. Must be a slow news day.

Anonymous said...

They should have taken their wage hikes. Politicians of all parties deserve it given the hours and travel involved.

Marnie Tunay said...

If Ed Stelmach was serious, he'd roll back those fat raises he and his cronies gave themselves after less than a year in office. Imagine what the public servants must be thinking, whose raises got cancelled by the same ministers who made sure they got their own piece of the pie first. I'm thinking work output and morale isn't going to be going up anytime soon.

Jake Gittes said...

Actually, us public servants are cool with the what the elected officials got. Some people want to put their life out there to be scrutinized by happy fun bloggers as politicians; others are not.

We as public servants do not change our work output based on who is our Minister. It depends on who's our ADM because they have the actual power. We never discussed what sort of pie you're referencing, be it pumpkin or apple. Again; focusing on the Minster is a job for bloggers.

There is a layer of confidence that the Alberta PC's possess which is unfortunate. But, until they are defeated, it will remain. This is not the job of the Alberta public servants to undertake this.

If Marnie is talking about DM level types, than I have no experience with that sort of social strata and their relationship with the Tories.