So let it be written…
There’s an old Irish curse that goes something like this — “May the curse of Mary Malone and her nine blind illegitimate children chase you so far over the hills of damnation that the Lord himself can’t find you with a telescope.”
That’s a long ways off, and about as far removed as an independent committee, tasked with deciding what pensions elected officials get, should be. A committee possessed of Socratic integrity, untouchable as Eliot Ness and comprised of members as innocent as newborn babies.
But in the real world, at least here in Canada, and in this particular case Metro Vancouver, we instead have politicians granting themselves pension increases with the simple raising of their hands.
It’s a swell job, if you can find it. Many taxpayers, though, have much different jobs, if they’re fortunate enough to be employed. Many don’t have a workplace pension and must rely on meagre Canada Pension Plan rations to keep them in cat food through their retirement years. Many others must fight tooth-and-nail to secure one through collective bargaining.
Last Friday Metro Vancouver Regional District board members voted themselves a retroactive retirement allowance of up to $11,000. They agreed — of course they did — to a 10.2 per cent retirement allowance, about $1,100 per year, based on their earnings, retroactive to 2007 for board members who leave of their own accord or aren’t re-elected this year.
What usually happens in these situations is some politicians express discomfort with this sort of thing just before the vote is called to inevitably ratify this sort of thing. Last Friday’s “this sort of thing” will cost taxpayers $498,000.
Not all board members voted in favour of this, to their credit. During the debate, some councillors expressed concern that it doesn’t look good on them — that is, getting a retro pension on their way out the door — considering municipal elections are being held Oct. 20.
They’re right — it doesn’t look good, because it isn’t. Remember, a board position is a part-time gig where members, who are appointed from participating city councils, get $387 per meeting up to four hours, and $775 for meetings that run beyond that. This is already on top of their city council pay.
Now, I’m going to stick my neck out a micron or so and suggest Canadians are fed up with being hammered with new and creative fees and taxes summoned up from the depths by politicians who, at the same time they are hammering us, nurse themselves with financial enrichment under the measured guise of fairness.
Fairness for them, anyway. Frustration for us.
Give us a break.
So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk writes for the Now-Leader. Reach him at email@example.com.