Colleague Wherry’s account of last night’s Conservative committee castration of Brent Rathgeber’s private member’s bill, which would have allowed disclosure of the salaries of civil servants who earn more than Members of Parliament, is essential and very nearly complete. Very very nearly. The fatal motion, sponsored by the Conservatives on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics and passed by means of their seven-member majority, altered the text of Rathgeber’s bill so that the cutoff for annual earnings disclosure was raised specifically to the maximum earnings of a deputy minister (a figure said to be in the neighbourhood of $444,000). Where Rathgeber had intended to allow the public to gain a broad view of the earnings of many or most senior civil servants, along the lines of Ontario’s annual Sunshine List, his fellow Conservative MPs altered the bill so that very possibly nobody at all would actually be forced to disclose salary, bonuses, and other income.
If anyone wants to ask what they meant by this action, it might be of some use to have a list of those seven Conservatives. The sponsor of the amendment was Mississauga-Streetsville MP Brad Butt, who proudly read the text, joking that he wanted “people back home to think that I really do work here.” (Mr. Butt believes that “serving in public office should be the highest calling and treating taxpayer money with respect sacrosanct at all times.”) The other permanent Conservative members of the committee are Patricia Davidson (Sarnia-Lambton); Blaine Calkins (Wetaskiwin); Earl Dreeshen (Red Deer); John Carmichael (Don Valley West); Dean Del Mastro (Peterborough); and Colin Mayes (Okanagan-Shuswap). But not all were present for this particular occasion, and associate members filled in, according to the usual custom. The Huffington Post’s Althia Raj named the names of those who actually wielded the knives late yesterday: Dave MacKenzie (Oxford); Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre); Costas Menegakis (Richmond Hill); Butt; Carmichael; Davidson; and Chris Warkentin (Peace River).