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Neil Seeman: This government wants the rich to pay their fair share. They should start with themselves

Commentary
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance speaks in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 7, 2024. Arlyn McAdorey/The Canadian Press.

‘Tis a melancholy sight to see the corridors of power overrun with MPs of all parties eyeing lavish pensions after just six years of service (plus or minus), while the good people of Canada find their pockets lightened by an abruptly rising capital gains burden. A burden celebrated on Sunday by the deputy prime minister herself, in a press conference so rife with talk of “fairness” that I felt compelled to expand upon this concept of fairness to include our esteemed parliamentarians.

So inspired am I by the federal government’s decision to boost the capital gains inclusion rate by 33.3 percent for unsuspecting entrepreneurs and investors across this great nation, that, in a (Jonathan) Swiftian sense, I today propose, in parallel spirit, that we slash all MP pensions by one-third and boost the qualifying years by this same margin.

I bear no ill will towards anyone who bets the full Monty on electoral ambition, only towards the immoral and gluttonous.

My modest plan would reduce the pension burden on taxpayers and inoculate our MPs against material temptations. And despite my proposal only denting the income of eight hundred sixty-four thousand, two hundred ninety-four ten-billionths of the Canadian population, it would empower all MPs, across party lines, to pay their fair share. Non-partisan and equitable!

Currently, an MP can receive up to $147,000 annually after 24 years of loafing about. Reducing this sum by one-third saves taxpayers $49,000 per pensioner each year. Despite the absurdity of my example of 24 years of service, it illustrates the grave threat to us all of industrious ne’er-do-wells.

MPs now qualify for pensions after a mere six years of performative public service. Increase this paltry requisite term by one-third to eight years, and over 100 MPs may be denied their payouts entirely should they fail to win re-election in 2025.

These reforms must remain unspecified until the 2025 election’s eve. Just as the Liberals have kept their capital gains heist details opaque, with the Loyal Opposition’s stance ambiguous, MPs should agonize over their pensions’ fates. They ought to focus on loftier, selfless matters.

Some may protest that reducing MP pensions could dissuade talented individuals from entering politics. Agreed. For far too long has Parliament been infested with a sprinkling of principled malcontents who, remarkably, believe in representing their constituents. What horror. Ensuring a steady stream of malleable dunces in Ottawa would reinforce our democracy as the obedient rubber stamp operation it was always intended to be. Let the intellectuals flee to the United States.

Think of the costs we could save by no longer compensating MPs for such archaic traditions as reading legislation or attending committees. We could slash the staffing budgets of our representatives still further. An MP pension of $12,000 per year is ample sustenance for a modest lifestyle. Our public servants could reside in cramped studios befitting their humble means.

To those who would protest that we are punishing MPs for their service, I respond: is not the honour of holding office itself the greatest reward? For this is surely analogous to what drives the mind of the entrepreneur: a fancy title. That’s why they deserve a shellacking on any capital gains. Similarly, our MPs must be reminded that theirs is a humble monastic existence, devoid of material temptation.

Indeed, I implore the government to go further and eliminate MP pensions entirely, replacing them with $1,000 debit cards strictly for purchasing Canadian products and services.

In this utopia, MPs celebrated for their frugality would appear on podcasts, join corporate boards at reduced compensation, and invest in businesses perfectly aligned with the national interest, and that national interest is to elect know-nothings. We need only reduce their remuneration to the barest sustenance, and then our more talented representatives will be inspired to pursue other callings outside the theatre of Parliament.

By reining in both their pensions and private sector windfalls, we shall ensure no MP becomes too comfortable in their station. A lifetime of austerity must be their noble burden, ever reminded of the humble existence our founders envisioned for public service. Only then can we extinguish any hint of self-interest from polluting our democracy.

So I say to you, good citizens: insist your MPs accept these modest proposals, even if the details remain opaque until just before the 2025 election. Urge your representatives to embrace personal sacrifice, whether through pension reductions, delayed vesting, or strictly capped post-political earnings. For is it not our sacred patriotic duty to ensure public service never becomes a cushy career path but remains the virtuous immolation our founders intended? The moral future of our nation depends upon their noble suffering.

Peter Menzies: Google shuns the big media moguls in decision over news fund—but it’s Canadian consumers who will pay the heaviest price

Commentary
In this Dec. 4, 2017, file photo, people walk by Google offices in New York. Mark Lennihan/AP Photo.

An ad hoc collection of independent operators has won the right to chant “Who’s your Daddy now?” to Canada’s largest media moguls.

Google had a choice between two bids for the right to be in charge of the $100 million fund it had agreed to finance in exchange for an exemption from the government’s disastrous Online News Act. One group was composed of the CBC, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and News Media Canada, which represents large legacy newspaper companies. The other—the freshly founded Canadian Journalism Collective (CJC)—includes 12 much smaller organizations such as Pivot, The Resolve, IndigiNews, Village Media, and the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations.

Google made its choice to go with the CJC group, it said, because their proposal was most closely aligned with its principles and the intent of the fund to offer “diversity of representation, a robust governance structure, a high level of transparency, and assurance that as much funding as possible would go to news organizations.”

The winners will now be scrambling to put their governance structure in place. The losers are left to mutter behind the steering wheels of their BMWs. Google meanwhile waits expectantly for its exemption application to be approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is pretty much in charge of Canadian journalism now.