Sunday, October 14, 2007

Independent Commissions of Convenience

B.C. is a special place.

How is it when recommendations of an independent commission don't suit our premier he steps in to change the rules of the game? The Electoral Boundary Commission (EBC) spent 18 months and $3 million to create a new map to distribute our representatives in Victoria based on population changes in the province. With clearly established rules, EBC's recommendations resulted in a net increase of two MLAs. These recommendations however, resulted in the loss of MLAs in some regions of the province. Not so fast - the premier stepped in and undermined the EBC. Now, instead of two more MLAs, the B.C. taxpayer might be funding eight more MLAs. Not only has an important independent process been made a mockery, more MLAs will cost the B.C. taxpayer big time.

Eight extra MLA's will cost B.C. taxpayers about $1,925,000 per year, almost $1.5 million higher than what just two would have cost. That doesn't include the future liability created by the gold-plated pensions for the new MLAs of upwards of $6 million, or the one-time payout of up to 15 months of basic salary as transitional assistance (as high as $122,500), or the $9,000 for career counseling. Let's also not forget about the cost of physical changes to the already overcrowded legislature. The list just goes on and on.

I'm sure you recall politicians of all stripes voted last spring to slap the B.C. taxpayer with a 30% pay increase and bring back gold-plated pensions. This incidentally, came from another independent commission, one the premier didn't see fit to amend.

Yes, we're special ...

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