As a number of provincial politicians have bowed out of running for re-election ahead of Oct. 24, a national tax reform advocacy group is highlighting the cost of political retirement– to the tune of $20 million – with taxpayers footing the bill.
“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”
According to the government, MLA pensions are calculated by taking the highest earning years of the retiring MLAs and factoring in their years of work. The annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest earning years.
That means that for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans, taxpayers pay $4, Sims said.
“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims, adding that MLAs not seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while they look for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.
The federation calculated the expected pensions for 16 retiring MLAs, and determined that former house speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid is expected to collect the highest per-year amount, roughly $107,000 annually when she turns 65 years old.
Reid, who represented the Richmond South Centre since 1991, is the longest-serving woman in B.C.’s government history.
Other estimated pension totals for MLAs include:
- Tracy Redies, B.C. Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
- Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
- Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
- Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
- Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
- Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
- Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
- Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
- Rich Coleman, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
- John Yap, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime
- Darryl Plecas, Independent Speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
- Andrew Weaver, former Green Party Leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
- Donna Barnett, B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
- Linda Larson – B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
- Ralph Sultan, former B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.
- Linda Reid, former B.C. Liberal Speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.
The Lesson from Bolivia for Latin American Politics – The New York Times
On Oct. 18 Bolivians elected Luis Arce, the presidential candidate of the former President Evo Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism party and his chosen successor. Some saw the victory as a call for Mr. Morales to return to the government. But perhaps the electoral landslide may be better understood as an example of how to move forward in the wake of a tumultuous year for the world. It’s also a lesson on how similar movements weighed down by the baggage of past leaders can keep political relevance — without their looming influence.
As a candidate, Mr. Arce signaled his willingness to turn the page on Mr. Morales, whose controversial tactics and unconstitutional bid for a fourth presidential term ended in his expulsion from the country last year after the military called on him to step down. Mr. Arce committed to a return to the stability and inclusion that defined much of Mr. Morales’s government. With the more moderate Mr. Arce on the ballot, the Movement Toward Socialism party, or MAS, actually outperformed expectations — increasing its share of the vote by eight percentage points over last year’s results.
Ultimately “MAS did not win because of Evo but in spite of Evo,” tweeted Pablo Solón, the former United Nations ambassador during Mr. Morales’s tenure.
Mr. Morales was among a wave of leftist leaders who came into office in the 2000s, when their countries’ economies were buoyed by high commodity prices. Mr. Morales used the windfall to reduce poverty and expand the middle class. But from Bolivia to Ecuador to Argentina, the good times were followed by corruption scandals, attacks on the press, power grabs, debt-induced recessions — and eventually shifts to the right.
These leaders continued to influence national politics after leaving office, and their polarizing quests for comebacks threatened to undermine the very movements they helped start.
“Lingering ex-presidents prevent the nation from moving on,” Javier Corrales, a political scientist at Amherst College, wrote in Americas Quarterly in 2018. “Liberating countries from their influence is a collective good because it helps with leadership renewal.”
Mr. Arce’s victory signals that renewal is possible. He has distanced himself from Mr. Morales, saying the former president’s bid for a fourth term was an “error.” He vowed that Mr. Morales would not have a role in his government.
Mr. Morales resigned last year, after his attempt to win a fourth term sparked unrest and ended in a contested election, in what some have called a coup. But if leaders like him can pass the baton to less polarizing figures, they may be able to inject new life into their political movements.
In fact, Mr. Morales’s absence helped energize, rather than weaken, MAS, the Bolivia-based journalist Pablo Stefanoni contends, writing that the crisis surrounding his departure “enabled the rise of a new group of leaders” whose ascension had been limited during Morales’s government.
It’s not easy to convince popular leaders who have had a taste of power, and who often seek a return to office as relief from the legal problems they face, to move on. In Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, besieged by numerous corruption charges, was expected to pursue a third presidential term in 2019 but reversed course after polls suggested she’d lose. Instead, she promoted Alberto Fernández, a law professor and former chief of staff seen as less ideological, as her party’s candidate, and instead ran as vice president. He won by a large majority.
In Ecuador, the former President Rafael Correa is following the same playbook. His political movement nominated Andrés Arauz, a 35-year-old economist and former government minister, as its candidate for February’s presidential election. Mr. Arauz’s chances may depend on how much distance he can put between himself and the polarizing Mr. Correa, who in April was sentenced to eight years in prison on corruption charges.
Other leaders may see themselves as the only ones who can defeat their opposition. In Brazil, there is talk that the former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva may run for president in 2022. But while Mr. da Silva remains a larger-than-life figure in Brazilian politics, he would be 76 by the time he runs, and his support has its limits — enough only to get him to a second round in an election, where polls say he’d lose to President Jair Bolsonaro. Passing the baton to the new leaders emerging under Mr. Bolsonaro’s presidency may be a better bet for his Workers’ Party.
The lesson does not just apply to left-wing parties. In Argentina, the former President Mauricio Macri’s center-right coalition will likely try to stage an electoral comeback in the 2023 presidential election. But, given his deeply unfavorable view among voters, his party may be more likely to find success by championing someone else.
Polls suggest that person may be Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta of Buenos Aires. Though some critics say he lacks charisma, Mr. Rodríguez Larreta’s reputation as an efficient manager has made him one of the most popular political figures in the country. It would be another example of a less polarizing figure offering a fresh start for Mr. Macri’s political project.
While Mr. Arce’s victory in Bolivia is cause for optimism, over time his effort to turn the page on Mr. Morales may become a cautionary tale. As Mr. Corrales wrote, successors who take over from outgoing leaders walk a tightrope.
“When a president betrays a campaign promise — in this case, the promise to carry the torch from a predecessor — they disappoint two groups: those who wanted continuismo, and those who wanted real change, with the latter never becoming convinced that you are a true convert,” Mr. Corrales wrote.
To repair the worst elements of Mr. Morales’s 14-year presidency, Mr. Arce will need to strengthen institutions that for years were manipulated to benefit the former president. Similar successors to popular but polarizing figures, like Lenín Moreno of Ecuador and Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, chose to pursue limits on re-election, for example, as one method of institutional reform.
If Mr. Arce can make positive institutional changes, while navigating Bolivia’s complicated politics and troubling economic panorama, he may be able to govern with the best of MAS’s values, tackling poverty and celebrating Bolivia’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity without Mr. Morales’s divisiveness and strongman tendencies. Ultimately, that could help him create his own legacy and set an example for political movements across the region.
Brendan O’Boyle (@BrenOBoyle) is a senior editor at Americas Quarterly, a publication on business, politics and culture in Latin America. He has studied the region for a decade and has lived in Buenos Aires, Quito, Ecuador and Mexico City.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: email@example.com.
Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Kelowna Capital News
Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.
The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.
“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.
“And nothing could be further from the truth.”
It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.
“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.
“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”
The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.
A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.
In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.
But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .
“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.
While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.
Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.
“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.
Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.
“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.
“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”
The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.
But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.
“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.
“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”
Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.
As Trump weakens rules insulating civil servants from politics, an official resigns in protest. – The New York Times
The head of a federal panel that advises the White House on compensation issues resigned on Monday to protest President Trump’s new executive order that could wipe out employment protections for tens of thousands of federal workers.
The order, signed last week, gives Mr. Trump and his political appointees the power to hire and fire certain federal civil servants who now hold jobs that are supposed to be exempt from political influence.
“The Executive Order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process,” Mr. Sanders, who called himself a lifelong Republican, wrote in his resignation letter, dated today and sent to the White House. “I have concluded that as a matter of conscience, I can no longer serve him or his administration.”
The president’s executive order has already provoked protests by federal labor unions and some Democrats in Congress. If Mr. Trump is not re-elected, the next administration could repeal the measure.
Mr. Sanders wrote of civil servants, “The only ‘boss’ that they serve is the public,” adding, “No president should be able to remove career civil servants whose only sin is that they may speak such a truth to him.” The board Mr. Sanders resigned from is made up of experts in labor relations and representatives of federal labor unions.
A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The White House, in a statement that accompanied the executive order, said the new employee classification was justified because under current rules “removing poor performers, even from these critical positions, is time-consuming and difficult.”
Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre to host annual Christmas art show – Hanna Herald
1 New Case Of COVID-19 In Windsor Essex As Of Monday – windsoriteDOTca News
The Lesson from Bolivia for Latin American Politics – The New York Times
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
- Business20 hours ago
Owner of all-electric Nissan Leaf frustrated by difficulty of getting new battery – CBC.ca
- Tech19 hours ago
5 video games for kids to while away the fall hours – that parents might like, too – Humboldt Journal
- Politics17 hours ago
A look at stock market history around elections and whether politics really matter – CNBC
- Science21 hours ago
NASA Spacecraft Osiris-Rex Extracts Samples From Asteroid Bennu, a First for US – The Daily Beast
- Sports24 hours ago
Dodgers one win from World Series title after beating Rays in Game 5 – Sportsnet.ca
- Health23 hours ago
Windsor protestors rally against COVID-19 protocols | CTV News – CTV News Windsor
- Health19 hours ago
Canadian Press NewsAlert: Quebec reaches more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 – Airdrie Today
- Sports22 hours ago
AP source: NFL fines Titans $350,000 for COVID-19 outbreak – Sportsnet.ca