Despite assertions to the contrary, Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell had a choice when it came to approving the gross retroactive pay raise politicians awarded themselves.
He could have said no.
In a recent letter, Mitchell said the pay raise was necessary. He’s right, it was.
A report by former clerk of the legislature Patrick Michael concluded that our politicians were paid substandard wages.
The base MLA salary was pegged at $38,000 a year, the lowest in Canada. It made it difficult for parties to recruit solid candidates.
So Michael recommended a pay raise.
They should receive a base of $65,000 a year, with bonuses paid to cabinet ministers and party leaders.
Michael recommended the substantial raise be implemented January 1.
The committee — Mitchell, Yukon Party MLAs Jim Kenyon, Glenn Hart and Ted Staffen and New Democrat Steve Cardiff — accepted the report as suggested — with one notable exception.
Somebody (nobody will say who) suggested the pay raise be retroactive to June 1.
That meant a minimum $20,000 was added to each MLA’s pre-Christmas cheque.
But the amendment needed unanimous approval.
Mitchell said he opposed it.
“I voiced my objections to that part of the salary package at the time it was brought forward,” he wrote in a letter last week. “In fact, I voiced my objections to anyone who would listen, including other members of the review committee.”
Apparently, that didn’t do any good.
There was no interest from the other two parties’ representatives to drop the retroactive clause, noted Mitchell.
So he simply set aside his objections.
“This was a take-it-or-leave-it deal,” he wrote.
And Mitchell took it.
“Because any other choice would have resulted in no salary increase at all for any of the MLAs.”
Which is nonsense.
Bottom line: Mitchell, the only leader to sit on the committee, was apparently stared down by Kenyon, Hart, Staffen and Cardiff.
What does that say about his leadership abilities?
The retroactive clause was greed, pure and simple.
If Mitchell objected, he should have voted it down.
Had he, it’s doubtful the others would have deep-sixed their pay raise.
And, if they had, scheduling a news conference immediately after the vote would have given Mitchell the opportunity to lay out exactly why the raise was rejected.
Mitchell would have looked like a leader, a guy standing by his principles and defending the public purse.
Instead he looks more pliable than Gumby.
Mitchell can’t have it both ways.
Despite assertions to the contrary, he had a choice.
He should have opposed the greed.
He should have said no. (RM)