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New BC Liberal government raises pay for political staff

One of the BC Liberal's first actions after being re-elected last month was to raise the pay for political staff, says the New Democratic Party's John Horgan.

"It speaks absolutely counter to everything the BC Liberals talked about during the election campaign," said Horgan, noting that Premier Christy Clark has remained in campaign mode since the election. "While she was smiling, in the backrooms they were giving their buddies more money."

On June 3, 2013, a cabinet order raised the maximum pay for the premier's chief of staff from $195,148 to $230,000 and for the deputy chief of staff from $144,000 to $230,000. The new deputy chief of staff is Michele Cadario, who during the election was the BC Liberal's deputy campaign director.

"That's a big, big boost for someone coming off their most recent employment being right hand to Mike McDonald, the guy who wasn't investigated as part of the ethnic memo scandal," said Horgan.

The cabinet order also boosted the maximum pay for ministerial assistants, the press secretary, the director of issues management and others from $94,500 to $105,000.

Asked Horgan, "What kind of message does that send to people who were encouraged by the talk of fiscal probity?"

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said it is a new government with a new mandate and there have been some staffing changes, but "The overall amount being spent on staff remains the same."

On his way to the BC Liberals' first caucus meeting after being sworn in, de Jong walked away as reporters asked follow up questions.

Update, 4:25 p.m.: The total budget for political staff has dropped with the new pay grid, said a spokesperson with the premier's office. Previously it was $5.741 million, but has dropped to $5.711 million, he said.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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