How much is that cabinet in the window? (IV)


The Prime Minister’s Office just announced the appointments of 27 parliamentary secretaries, each entitled to a bonus of $15,600, amounting to a total of $421,200 in extra salary.

Let’s be fair, in general, politicians at the national level deserve to be well-rewarded. At least in theory. And this extra money for cabinet ministers and ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries amounts to a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the federal budget.

Could some of the money be better spent? Perhaps. Would it be generally more useful if directed to, say, affordable housing or poverty or medical research? Sure.

But set that aside. Let’s put this in the language of this place. What political benefit would Stephen Harper’s government gain from showing restraint in regards to its own compensation?

Among the six suggestions put forward by Slate’s John Dickerson as to how Barack Obama could show he was a “different” politician was this: 

“Work without pay. Obama has talked about a new era of sacrifice and has also promised to go through the budget ‘line by line,’ cutting out unnecessary programs. If he were to work without pay, he would show that he was doing his part. He can afford it: Obama’s books have made him a wealthy man. And his next books will make him even wealthier.”

Granted, Stephen Harper might not be as privately well-off as Barack Obama. He is, after all, just a middle-class guy, driving a minivan, taking his kids to hockey practice and worrying about the cable bill and how he’s going to pay for Ben and Rachel to go to university. And, no doubt, all of his ministers are of similarly humble roots.

But they’re all currently earning a base salary of $155,400. And so surely some of them could get by without the extra $74,400 owed to cabinet ministers. 

So let’s say the government’s looking at a deficit. And let’s say the Prime Minister promised during his re-election campaign to never go into debt. How much would that apparent misleading of the Canadian public be mitigated if he announced that he and his senior ministers would be accepting only their basic MP salaries and that he has asked anyone in his caucus who is able to do likewise?

A token gesture? Sure. But then Mr. Harper was once of those who made great token noises about MP pensions. Perhaps he could even call this Operation Pork Chop II.


How much is that cabinet in the window? (IV)

  1. But if they give up their cabinet salary premiums then how will Harper reward the loyal toadies with public money? I mean, what cabinet doesn’t need 27 Parliamentary secretaries?

  2. This is petty.

  3. Can we assume you will be linking to the article you wrote arguing that the 35 parly secs Paul Martin kept on staff was a bit much?

  4. Two Cents: Maybe. But then if we got in a time machine and went back to 2001 and asked Stephen Harper about it, he’d probably agree with me entirely. Weird, huh?

    Davey Boy: I’m not sure I can be for faulted for not doing a job I didn’t have at the time. Other prime ministers I haven’t written about: all of them.

  5. No, but at least the Harperites will be putting an end to one of those attrocious items that came from 13 years of do-nothing Liberalism — balanced budgets! Curse the dogs that started that trend…
    And its not ‘pigs to the trough’ anymore, but ‘under-utilized partisan tub cleaners with 25 per cent more bacon!’

  6. This really is petty. All of these Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries could easily make far more money in the private sector. But lets all whine about how much money they make.

    Instead of going into deficit, how about cutting spending from all those old Liberal spending programs that really had no purpose other than paying Liberals.

  7. Or, instead of going into deficit- let’s cut useless spending
    Is Harper trying to emulate Brina Mulroney in every way possible? ‘Cos he’s doing a bang-up job- without the charm.

  8. ah, sorry, I meant the former PM Brian Mulroney, not the exotic dancer form Halifax Brina Mulroney.

  9. A petty post a a petty person.

  10. Fair comment IMO Aaron. If Harper said he would deliver smaller more efficient government why are so many Conservatives allowed at the pig trough? He is giving Canadians bigger government when Canadians are facing a slower economy.

  11. Sophie, I’ve seen Brina Mulroney and there’s nothing exotic about her….. er, him….

  12. This really is petty. All of these Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries

    A lot of them, yes. But all? Pierre P would be lucky if he could get a job as a paper boy.

  13. Instead of going into deficit, how about cutting spending from all those old Liberal spending programs that really had no purpose other than paying Liberals.

    Jim are you saying that for 2 years the Harper government has been paying Liberals? Wouldn’t that be the kind of program he’d want to cut… in his first mandate?

  14. This is petty.

  15. A little history and common sense will shed some light on how misguided this is. Why did we start paying MPs? Because it’s democratizing — that way, not only the independently wealthy can afford to be part of the government more. Why do we pay PMs and Ministers more? Because they do more work, but more importantly because even the base MP salary would rarely be enough to entice the more talented away form much higher paying private-sector lines of work. Sure, the current group could opt not to take the full salary (although I’m not sure how they’d do that…), but that would be a stunt and it would put the next group in an unfair position. Which is exactly what you would have said had they done it.

    Does this movie have a fifth part, or have you drunk your fill of this particular flavour of Kool-Aid now?

  16. Aaron Wherry – You know how they say “Don’t quit your day job”? Well, with this kind of small potatoes penny picking, perhaps you should. Lightweight stuff. You have just placed yourself in the same category of reporters who are making heads and tails of what breed of puppy will end up in the White House. Perhaps you should stick with Arts and Life. I suspect cconomic issues are out of your league.

  17. Correction: cconomic s/b economic

  18. Hell, if any of them ministers or parl-secs can find $ spent foolishly, wastefully, or outside of federal jurisdiction, and cut the spending, I say give them a bonus! $50K one-time per million dollars in recurrent annual spending halted because something stupid and useless gets cancelled.

  19. They needed the extra dough to make up for all that committee cash they had prevented themselves from pocketing by fillibustering and walking out. Who said CONservatives don’t have entitlements?
    Notice how the koolaid drinkers are not even mumbling ’13 years blah’ anymore, instead calling the author for daring to question Harper’s bogus fiscal responsibility guff.
    He’s never put his economics degree to action, but I’m betting all economists are using this recession to give extra money to their money counters, too.

  20. Notice how the koolaid drinkers are not even mumbling ‘13 years blah’ anymore…

    That line should only work for a few months after Harper got his first minority gov. You’d think Canada’s-new-government would be able to differentiate itself from the bad Liberals they are struggling hard to replace, but it looks like the sins the Conservatives were so outraged about when they were playing the role of Canada’s natural opposition party are really blessings once the new-government gets into power.

    Got to get as many pigs up to the trough as possible. Looks like Del Mastro got the thumbs up too. Nose up to the trough Dean!

  21. Canada is in a recession. The Harper government will be cutting every service and program it can in order to avoid a deficit.
    Will PM Harper not understand that cutting begins with this Cabinet and all the hangers on!
    The Reform/Alliance rabble screamed blue murder every time a limo showed up on Parliament Hill with a Liberal Minister.
    The same rabble also denounced the pensions MPs received and demanded that the pension program be scrapped. Now all CP Cabinet members’ pensions will get fatter and fatter.
    I can assure everyone that if the Liberals had won office and made the same stupid mistake they would be getting hammered by the media as well as by the CP gang.
    PM Harper should reconsider his ill-time decision to bloat the Cabinet and the wallets of CP MPs at a time when we will all be asked to make sacrifices in earnings and services.

  22. Remember when Conservative leadership candidate Belinda Stronach promised to serve without pay?

    …No? Well, then.

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