Unwashed masses need not apply?

Yesterday, Strategic Thought's David Schreck criticized the independent commission to review MLA compensation for being "cautious" in making public opinion part of its deliberations. And what was the reason for such caution, you may wonder? Well, evidently, "the small number" of written submissions made to the commission - as well as poll conducted on its behalf - "demonstrated a lack of understanding among the public of both the duties and levels of MLA compensation." But past compensation reviews haven't taken the same position.

A 1997 citizens' panel, for example, received even fewer written submissions than the commission - 69 compared with 86. Yet the panel, unlike the commission, included a statistical analysis of those submissions in its report - noting that "without the interest of citizens in the province" their task "would have been much more difficult." And the late C.J. Connaghan expressed a similar view in his 1992 review of MLA remuneration.

Like the commission, Mr. Connaghan reported "that many of the citizens of British Columbia have limited understanding of the role, responsibilities and work load of a member." Even so, "the level of public participation in this review" - which included 300 written and telephoned comments - "makes it clear that the citizens of British Columbia do care about their political system." As a result, Mr. Connaghan gave "serious consideration" to "the views from all who responded."

4 Comments

According to Ipsos-Reid, two thirds of BC voters are opposed to the 29% increase, and half are strongly opposed {http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=3474}.

now my hopes are up.
after 6 years of being savaged by the bcliberals, community social services can optimistically look forward to resolving their retention and recruitment crisis with a 30% compensation increase by simply establishing that" many of the citizens of british columbia have a limited understqnding of the role, responsibilities and workload" of a social services worker.
what a monumental olympian oversight on our part.

Maybe now Gordon campbell will reinstate the benefits that where taken from the retired provicial government employees when he did his scorched earth plan in 2001. Or when he caused all thoise nasty HEU union workers to lose their jobs. Same guy is not trying to get ex government emoloyees , and new hires to come work for his government.Fat chance Gordo. Come to think of it, our entry level to pharmicaire went up, as seniors from 250 bucks to well over 1400 dollars. a real sharp business man maybe but lousy politician

One argument made for the wage hike was the low wages these poor politicians make that fail to draw the best and the brightest. Those of us who spend four years in university studying psychology or social work to aid our fellow citizens should take note: our leaders aren't willing to stay in BC unless they make more money. Should we follow suit? Or are we supposed to stay and work for fewer benefits and low wages out of a sense of civic responsibility while our leaders make over $90 grand a year? With other provinces paying more and providing better program funding, and with the US wooing social service workers with attractive packages, maybe we should follow the examples our esteemed MLAs are setting.

Another of the arguments made in the report recommending the hefty (read: insane) wage hike for the MLAs and premiere Campbell is that they have to make "difficult decisions" and this stress in the job warrants a wage hike. Those of us in social services make difficult decisions every day. We burn out from them every day. We take these decisions home with us every day. We struggle with them every day. We do so with little pay (in comparison with our counterparts, though no hefty increase is coming our way, Mr. Campbell), laughable benefits (no birth control coverage in our drug plan) and with constant threats of program cuts.

And now, with huge wage and benefit increases for the MLAs and Premiere Campbell, we all have to fear more program cuts. Because the money will come from somewhere. And even Gordon Campbell isn't bold enough to increase taxes to pay himself more. No, he'll cut funding from people who cannot defend themselves: from young parents, from those with special needs, from the permanently disabled, from foster children and from the mentally ill. The politicians elected to run the province will run it indeed: straight into the ground.

A life in politics should be about service. About dignity and creating a better world. Not about material gain. You should be the best and the brightest: this is not obtained through high salary and great benefit packages. Huge salaries hasn't created great leaders in Conrad Black, the team from Enron, anyone in the Bush administration or most business leaders making the news these days.

I say we cannot afford to pay these people more. We cannot afford to take the money from any other funding area to give to these politicians, we cannot afford to set the precident that being a politician means earning more than 90% of the people you "represent" and we cannot afford to comprimise what it means to be a leader.

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