Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION: Christmas comes early
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 15 Dec 2006, p. 6

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There are some things in life that are just plain wrong, no matter how anyone tries to justify them: · Paris Hilton's attempt at being a legitimate actress/singer. · Sylvester Stallone trying to fleece the movie-going public with one more attempt at a Rocky film. · Ontario MPPs giving themselves a 25 per cent wage hike two weeks before Christmas. Not only was it bad enough that Dalton McGuinty's government introduced surprise legislation Tuesday that would see MPPs' salaries soar from $88,771 to $110,775 a year, but McGuinty did so after earlier saying he was not looking at pay increases for MPPs. Another broken McGuinty pledge. To top it off McGuinty told Conservative Leader John Tory (a longtime proponent of higher pay for MPPs) of his change of heart on Monday but then sandbagged NDP Leader Howard Hampton (who opposes the hikes) with news of the legislation only minutes before the bill was introduced. This bill marks the first significant pay hike-- apart from modest cost-of-living raises which are the only kinds of hikes many Ontario workers receive-- for MPPs since former Conservative Premier Mike Harris increased MPPs' basic pay from $42,218 to $78,007 in 1996. That said, MPPs' salaries jumped nearly $5,000 in 2002 and have climbed since then, including an increase of nearly $2,000 earlier this year. Integrity Commissioner Coulter Osbourne, in an 18page report, suggested MPPS are underpaid compared to their federal and municipal counterparts and provided the impetus for this week's legislation. While we certainly don't deny MPPs receive fair compensation, we cannot agree with Coulter's or McGuinty's belief that the level of compensation could become a deterrent to public service. Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh suggests the pay hike will keep good talent at Queen's Park and attract the "best and the brightest" for the future. It has always been our understanding that those who devote their life to public service are not "in it for the money" but to better their community. If MPPs so desperately wanted to bring their pay in line with that of their municipal or federal counterparts, raises should have been phased in over several years. By doing so in one fell swoop when the province faces a huge deficit and funding shortfalls in education, health and other areas, only makes MPPs look greedy.

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15 Dec 2006
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OPINION: Christmas comes early