The other day, a random on twitter asked why people should care about the fact that the Ontario Liberals were proroguing parliament. My initial response was a fairly Mr. Mackey worthy “Because It’s Bad”… but that really isn’t an answer is it.
Why is it “bad”? Well, first, one has to understand just what an MPP or MP does. (They both do much the same thing, just at different levels.)
Julia Munro, MPP for York-Simcoe, has a nice, and fairly complete description found on her site:
Every MPP performs three main roles
1. Serving his or her constituency
- represents their views and helping them deal with the vast bureaucracy of government
- meets with constituents and attends local events
- For more information check out my “Constituency Office” page
2. Working as a lawmaker at Queen’s Park
- holds the government to account through questions in Question Period
- debates legislation in the house and committees
- introduces private member’s bills and resolutions to promote policy ideas and effect change
- presents petitions from constituents on important issues
3. Promoting his or her party and its ideas
- This is the political role of the MPP
- promoting a political party, fundraising and campaigning
- this job has to be kept separate from the those functions paid for by the taxpayer
- For more information, just google your favourite political party!
Now, taking the above as a fairly complete picture of what we pay MPPs to accomplish, we must ask ourselves.. can they still do these duties during a Prorogued Parliament?
The simple answer is not really. The more complicated answer is that they MIGHT be able to still work on number 3… by doing fund raising, attending events, and talking to people about why Party X is better than Party Y.
There can be no question that the second duty cannot happen during a suspended session, since being IN SESSION is the a key part of making laws.
Parts of the first duty can still take place (meeting with constituents for example), but other parts (representing their views in Government) cannot.
In a prorogued parliament, a member can do no more than 50% of their duties, at best. Here in ontario, we pay our MPPs about 130K per year. That works out to 2500 dollars every WEEK of our tax dollars. Now, when MPPs are doing their full jobs, I truly feel they (generally) do earn their salaries.
However, if for no other reason, we must care about a prorogued parliament because you will not see these people taking a pay cut. Imagine walking up to your boss (or having an employee come to you) and saying “Oh, hi, By the way, this job is tough, and not going as I hoped, so I’m just going to take a couple months of only doing 50% of what you hired me to do… but you can still pay me the same wage as before”
The fact that so many people are willing to not only ACCEPT this, but vote in favour of it, and defend it, sickens me. It bothers me as a citizen, a tax payer, and a voter.
I want to know which MPPs believe they should make the same money for far less work, and who thinks they shouldn’t have to do their jobs to earn their salaries.
And so should you.