Sunday, April 10, 2011

In it for themselves

Terrible optics during an election campaign in this one, the uncovering of a plan to give Tory political staffers pay raises at a time when Harper is about to wield an $11 billion axe: "Tory staffers to gain financially under changes approved by Harper gov't." It's another one of those surreptitious sleeper changes like the axing of the census. No one knows about it until someone uncovers it or spills the beans. And spill, someone did, to Canadian Press:
...The Canadian Press has obtained a fact sheet distributed on Jan. 27 by Treasury Board — "for the use of ministers and deputy heads" — which helpfully spells out the "key changes."
If Stephen Harper's Conservatives are re-elected on May 2, political aides in ministerial offices could find a nice bonus when they return to work.

The Harper government has quietly approved increases in the maximum salaries political staffers are entitled to receive.

In addition, suddenly out-of-work staffers could find the blow considerably cushioned if the Tories were to lose the election. That's because the government has also approved a 50-per-cent increase in the maximum separation pay political aides can receive — up to six months from four. That's on top of severance pay.

The changes went into effect April 1, just one week before Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced budget cuts to eliminate the federal deficit one year ahead of schedule, in 2014-15. He said that feat would be achieved "by controlling spending and cutting waste."
Big hikes for political staffers don't sound appropriate during an era of controlling spending and cutting waste. That's not what leaders setting the tone for an organization do, pay their own handsomely and wield the axe for others.

Here's a kicker in terms of election results and what might happen:
Adding it all up, Tory aides who have worked in ministerial offices throughout Harper's five years in government would be entitled to as much as 9.5 months of pay should they find themselves without jobs after May 2.
So there you have it. Nice bump if they return, nice parting gift that's been quietly worked in, just in case they get the boot.

Could be more grist for those Ottawa ridings where, it has been pointed out on Twitter this afternoon, the public service seems to be at risk given Mr. Harper's proposed aggressive $11 billion cuts that will come from who knows where.

Slippery, slippery.