Harper was asked Saturday about new rules which could result in a financial win-win for Tory aides in ministerial offices regardless of whether the Conservatives win or lose the May 2nd election.
The guidelines quietly went into effect on April 1, boosting the maximum salary political staffers can be paid. They also hike by 50 per cent the maximum separation pay they can receive should they find themselves suddenly out of work.
Those changes come into effect as Harper's Conservatives are vowing to cut $4 billion a year from the federal budget.
Harper suggested the pay boost is strictly due to the fact that political staffers' salaries are tied to those in the civil service, which are in line for an increase. He didn't mention that it was the rule changes earlier this month that tied the two together.
"The pay raises we're talking about are pay raises across the board," Harper said.
"They're not for political staffers. These are government employee pay raises and our political staffers are simply tied to those."
Harper was asked about the bonuses ministerial staffers have been given in the past, which, in one case, drove up an employee's annual salary by $35,000 to $190,000.Maybe there's a job for Harper on the speaking circuit when his time is done. Selling the art of confusing bafflegab that will cause eyes to glaze over in audiences everywhere.
Bottom line here is that yes, political staffers are in line for raises (and hefty severance pay should they be exiting) despite his efforts to confuse. At a time of belt tightening. And remember, Harper's own office saw an increase of $1.74 million from 2009 to 2010.
Shorter Harper: Austerity is for thee, not for me. Or my political hacks.
Austerity's going to be felt somewhere though...