Short-term pain, long-term gain?

The Liberal's decision to support a controversial pay hike and pension plan for provincial legislators presents New Democrat leader Carole James with an unprecedented opportunity. If she can ensure all caucus members opt out of that compensation package (presuming such a provision exists), Ms. James will be able to accuse the Campbell administration of being both sleazy and greedy - something that could win her the next election. But do New Democrats understand that opportunity? And, if not, does Ms. James have the political capital to make them understand? The answer may be no to both questions. And the fact Ms. James is out of the legislature today, speaking to the North Central Municipal Association, might not help her cause. After all, some caucus members are still smarting from the fact she jetted to Saskatchewan during the last pay raise fiasco, where she was scheduled to speak at the New Democrat's seventieth annual convention in that province.

10 Comments

As usual, when the going gets tough, Carole James heads out of town. No wonder the NDP is sinking in the polls. They have no leadership.

You're quite wrong, Sean. Once the Liberals have passed the pay package the issue will be over, provided that the NDP MLAs simply vote against it and don't make the mistake of trying to turn it into a Holy War. James's statement "this is not a priority" is clearly consistent with that kind of low-key negative approach, as opposed to some kind of round the clock filibuster.

Once the new pay rates are passed into law, all MLAs will be getting the new pay scaled regardless of having voted for or against it. Or do you have some different information?

This kind of thing has happened before, you know. And as long as the NDP just votes against it, instead of making it a Crusade, there will be no effective cries of hypocrisy, and no, I don't consider such cries coming from Kevin Larsen to be effective. James can ensure her party takes command of the issue by promising a new statute that will review all pay scales for BC Government employees and contractors not covered by collective bargaining or tendered contracts. As long as it's understood that such a statute will enable the new, truly independent and genuinely expert panel to actually reduce legislators pay scales if that is what is called for, there will be no problem.

The intense desire of the Liberal MLAs to get on with some pay adjustments really reflects how much they are falling behind their private sector business companions, and when you consider that MLAs are not paid low or even average incomes, ... it becomes clear that most of the Liberal MLAs are drawn from well within the top 1% of BC income recipients.

I hear Carole James has fled the scene once more. That's leadership.

This song goes out to all the "Carole Zombies":

(To the Tune of Brave Sir Robin)

Brave Carole Dithers ran away.
("No!")
Bravely ran away away.
("I didn't!")
When the pay raise reared it's ugly head,
She bravely turned her tail and fled.
("No!")
Yes, brave Carole Dithers turned about
("I didn't!")
And gallantly she chickened out.

Bravely taking to her feet,
("I never did!")
She beat a very brave retreat.
("all lies!")
Bravest of the braaaave, Carole Dithers!
("I never!")

The Van Sun has commissioned a poll for Saturday's edition on the pay raise issue.

Here is a prediction that the Sun readers will not support 29% and that the Campbell government will come in with something more like 4-6% annually.

I hope so, because that would be more reasonable. Ideally, the NDP should be pushing behind the scenes for this, rather than flat out saying "No" and witing for the legislation to pass with their hands out.

Do you think any proposed pay hike will be sufficent enough to satisfy Mr. Mayencourt?

Looks like you are the one who is wrong Budd. Carole James might have thought the Liberal majority would pass the pay raise and they could bitch like crazy about it and still end up cashing when it was passed but wrongo!

Lali has figured out that Campbell is not so stupid and will either have an opt out or an opt in clause and Lali, much like a good Unionist doesn’t believe they should be paid any less than anyone else doing the same job in Canada, will apply the same logic to being a BC MLA, currently amongst the worst paid in the country. And besides, well all know the brothers and sisters expect a pension so hard to argue against that as well. If you are NDP

Does any NDP’er really think that they deserve to be earning less than Jim Sinclair and without a pension to boot ? Maybe Carole James does but I think you will see a few more people like Lali stand up for the job of being an MLA, and for their spouses and families, because let’s not forget that they make sacrifices too.

Carole James would have been wise to have a free vote instead of trying to score cheap and predictable political points on this issue. Now she has a real mess on her hands and one not likely to go away anytime soon,

I agree that this may be the issue that costs Carole her leadership. Or at least it will be the issue that people point to and say was the beginning of the end. She has handled this one terribly. She doesn't have support of caucus and knew that when she made her public statements -- this is why she was so hesitant to say whether caucus was fully behind her. Now she has left Victoria again for the interior until things blow over, kind of like when she went to Saskatchewan last time the pay raise was brought up.

Of course, this may be part of the plan, given that there is enormous dissention over her leadership anyway -- enforce a a decision on caucus, insist on caucus solidarity, and smoke out dissenters on this issue which will play out very badly for them in the public. MLAs may want to think twice to oppose her leadership over a 29% pay raise...

Seems strange to me. The NDP caucus meets behind closed doors as is normal. The leader says this is not a priority.It was a decision the caucus made collectively. She goes to a prearranged even showing us that it really is not a priority. So she gets panned by a few folks. Her way in the back member Lali then breaks Caucus solidarity and does his showboat routine. Folks start telling Harry to take a hike. Harry suddenly is grovelling to the leader. He opended his mouth , upsetting the caucus so he should be shown the road as soon as possible. Cut off his extra job today and if he votes to support Gordons huge pay raise, she pushses him across the floor. Harry has illusions of Grandeur. Has he ever held a paying job in his life besid being a politician?
Strategic Thoughts has done a summary of the total amount those politicians make and would make. Nobody seems to rememember they get a pay raise every year.His pay rise alone would be as great or greater than my Military pension, OAP and Canada Pension. I would willingly compare my assorted licenses with his BA in something.

An opt-out, opt-in clause will be an individual MLAs choice.

In reply to Kevin Larsen, I have no idea how the current or proposed pay levels compare to that of Jim Sinclair or other top union officials. What is Sinclair's salary? The statement that Lali "doesn’t believe they should be paid any less than anyone else doing the same job in Canada" assumes that all other legislators are paid more or less identically, and of course there is in fact great variation across the country. One of the useful things this review panel did is produce a table showing the different compensations and types of compensation across the nation. To that can be added population served per member, and an accounting of how much the variable charges (per diems, housing allowance) are in practice adding up to.

It's too bad Kevin couldn't be learning the same lessons in humility and the need for good judgement that Harry Lali has just undergone.

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