OUR VIEW: Retiring MLAs will have no money woes

We say: Entering politics is a path to setting yourself up for life

Who says it doesn’t pay to be a politician — even for a blink of an eye?

With the B.C. Liberals in a freefall and the provincial election 10 months away, a number of MLAs have decided to leave politics. Much is made by some about the sacrifices made by politicians, of the time spent away from family, of the decision to take a break from their career passion — all to serve the public good.

And, while it is always admirable to see men and women take an active part in the democratic process, make no mistake — it is indeed a decision that often pays lucrative dividends far beyond anything a working stiff will ever realize. Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer is one of the latest B.C. Liberal to decide against seeking re-election next year.

According to Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation (CTF) figures, Hayer’s 12 years in office will give him an annual pension that will start at $47,600 when he turns 65 and climb to $62,900 when he turns 80.

The CTF estimates Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger will enjoy an annual pension of $87,700 when he turns 65, one that will rise to $115,700 when he turns 80. All that for 17 years in office. The MLA pension plan is indeed gold-plated as taxpayers chip in $4 for every dollar the MLA contributes. More maddening is the fact the B.C. Liberals, under then-leader Gordon Campbell, campaigned in the 1996 election against exorbitant pension plans. The NDP won and implemented a reasonable pension plan, one in which the taxpayer would add one dollar for every dollar the MLA contributed. In 2007, however, Campbell reversed his position and brought back a trough-laden pension.

Political pension plans at the provincial and federal levels are a disgrace and do nothing to counter the perception (which is reality) that entering the political arena is the path to setting yourself up for life, with your retirement funded well by taxpayers who can barely get by.

– Black Press