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."