Saturday, March 08, 2014

"Green" Vic!

Judicial appointment keep former cabinet minister Toews in the green

Glen Mcgregor
Friday, March 7, 2014

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews speaks with reporters before heading into question period in the House of Commons Wednesday, April 17, 2013 in Ottawa. (the Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

Much of the response to former Public Safety Minister Vic Toews‘ ascension today to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench will concern his suitability for the job, the apparent cronyism in appointing a long-time Conservative flag bearer, or a combination of both.

But one angle likely to be glossed over: how the new job will allow Toews to continue to meet onerous court-ordered support payments to his ex-wife.

When Toews left cabinet last summer, he walked away from a salary that accounted for most of the $262,861 in gross income that, according to court records, he reported in 2010.

For most politicians approaching retirement age, the sudden loss of a six-figure salary  isn’t usually much of a concern, padded as their exits typically are by the lush MP’s pension plan.

Indeed, Toews also stood to benefit from a Manitoba government pension from his days as a provincial politician and, before that, a Crown prosecutor.

Toews, however, had signed an agreement before his resignation that required him to pay a hefty amount each month to his former wife, Lorraine Fehr.

His acrimonious divorce proceedings with Fehr became infamous in early 2012 when snippets from the pleadings were tweeted from the anonymous ”@Vikileaks” account, later revealed to be a young Liberal researcher named Adam Carroll.

Vikileaks shut down before the ugly dispute was finally settled in court.

In April 2012, pursuant to a settlement agreement, Toews was ordered to make monthly support payments to Fehr of $6,250 backdated to July 1, 2011.

To guarantee continued support, he was also obligated to take out a $500,000 life insurance policy on himself with Fehr the sole beneficiary.

The court also required Toews to notify his ex-wife should his employment as a cabinet minister or MP change - as we presume he did last year.

Fehr was also entitled to share his MP’s pension as well as his Manitoba Civil Service Superannuation Board Pension, plus a $30,000 retroactive payment from the plan from Toews.

The settlement agreement allowed for either party to go to court to vary the terms for a material change in circumstances. It does not appear Toews ever did.

Now, as a judge with the Court of Queen’s Bench, Toews will earn even more than he would as a cabinet minister - $288,100 per annum.

That’s a nice bump on the $236,900 he would earn were he still in cabinet, and he can continue to draw on his MP’s pension.

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