Premier Pinocchio has appointed newly-elected Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll as minister of culture and seniors’ minister. A former MP and Paul Martin minister, Carroll was defeated in the 2006 federal election. Accordingly, she is entitled to the following payments:
MPP plus cabinet salary: $161,000
MP pension: $49,573
This is more than the premier's salary of $196,620.
This issue did come up in the local campaign, at one of the all-candidates’ meetings. I could not find a local news article, but here is an account from an October 2nd letter to the Barrie Examiner:
At last week’s candidate debate at Barrie City Hall, Ms. Carroll, with a face as red as her party’s colours, defended her federal pension by saying she gets a “small” amount.
--Marv Breault, Barrie
Another letter was published on October 9th:
Aileen is collecting a pension from the federal government, reportedly in the range of $49,000.
She apparently considers that that is only a “small” pension, although I would doubt many of the pensioners in this riding would agree.
--Ian J. Rowe, Barrie
A photo caption in the October 9th edition read “Some Barrie residents question why Carroll, a former Liberal MP in the area, is running for a seat in Queen’s Park when she already has a “small” pension from her years of service in the federal ranks.”
But the editors of the Examiner did not agree with their correspondents (who may, in fairness, have been PC partisans). In an October 5th editorial, they implied that Carroll’s pension was not a major issue:
The same goes for the city hall meeting, where Liberal candidate Aileen Carroll had to answer questions about her federal pension - which she is entitled to because she served as this area’s MP.
It resulted in shouting and accusations involving most of the candidates at the debate. What it didn’t result in was non-partisan, undecided voters finding out anything they needed to know about the candidates that might help them decide how to cast their ballot on Oct. 10.
--“Focus on the real issues,” editorial, Barrie Examiner, October 5, 2007
No doubt comparisons will be made to the Harris-era MPPs currently sitting in the Harper cabinet. All three of them were first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1995. The following year, Mike Harris kept his promise to abolish MPPs’ indexed pensions for those first elected in 1995 and replace them with RRSP contributions equivalent to 5% of MPPs’ salaries, locked in until age 55. Further to the pay increase introduced by the McGuinty regime last year, this has now been doubled to 10%.