Friday, June 14, 2013

Oink! Oink! Oink!

Recognize your Member of Parliament yet?

Good Day Readers:

Don't you love the way the current government keeps telling YOU it must balance the budget while drawing down the national debt. Problem is, it's doing so on your backs and not theirs.

How many of you have had a 1.6% salary increase plus a 6.7 percent hike in your travel related expenses lately? But what should be really galling is the quiet/secret way the Conservatives did it behind closed doors such that you're only finding out about it now.

It's reminiscent of a situation a few years ago. Normally, evening sittings of the House of Commons are sparcely covered, if at all, by the media because nothing of consequence usually happens. But on this particular occasion a Globe and Mail reporter happened to be present. A Bill to lower the eligibility of MPs to collect their platinum-edged pensions from age 60 to 55 was passed in record time taking all of 5 minutes.

Seems the government's position is just shut the you know what up and pay your taxes.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
MPs quietly increase their travel budgets 6.7 percent
Bill Curry Ottawa
Friday, June 14, 2013

Members of Parliament from all parties have quietly approved a 6.7 percent increase to their travel-related expense budget in addition to a 1.6 percent salary hike.

The decisions were made behind closed doors on March 25 by the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy. However, the increase to the travel status expenses account for all MPs was only made public Thursday, when the minutes of the meeting were tabled in the Hourse of Commons.

The decision means the size of the accounts rose by $1,762 to $28,000 a year for each MP as of April 1. The accounts can be used by MPs to claim spending such as accommodation, meals, cable television, internet, utilities, parking and incidental expenses while on travel status.

The salary increase - from $157,731 to $160,200 - had previously been made public.

The increases come as federal parties point fingers over secrecy in spending by MPs and Senators. Currently MPs disclose spending annually as total amounts for categories such as advertising or equipment rental.

The salaries for MPs and Senators were frozen for three straight years prior to the increase that took effect April 1.

Senators' salaries are set at $25,000 less than MPs' salaries so the base salary for a Senator is now $135,200, up from $132,300.

NDP MP Nycole Turmel, a spokesperson for the Board, said Canadians will understand that costs have increased and that the travel account had not been increased over the last two years. She also notes the Board approved spending cuts for MP budgets in other areas, such as printing.

Gregory Thomas, the federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, noted that a 6.7 percent increase is more than the rate of growth in government spending. It is also a higher rate than inflation or economic growth.

"When the government itself is mandating austerity, in a secret meeting, those politicians decide to give themselves a raise and we don't find out about it for almost three months," he said. "This is another illustration that the expense control systems in Parliament are broken beyond repair."

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