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Retired clerk to BC legislature mum on pay, keeps office

George MacMinn has retired as clerk to the British Columbia legislature, but he is still on the public payroll and has kept his office.

He does not, however, see any reason why he should say publicly what he is paid.

"I'm not disclosing my basic salary," he said in an interview, though he noted he is paid less than he was when he was clerk. "The remuneration aspect of the thing, as you know, is personal. We don't disclose those things."

MacMinn said an arrangement satisfactory to all sides was made between himself, speaker Bill Barisoff and the current clerk, Craig James. He will stay for two years and provide advice to the legislature's table officers as long as he is useful, he said.

MacMinn has been an officer of the legislature for more than 50 years. He received the Order of B.C. in 2005 and wrote the book Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia.

"I love what I do," he said, noting that previous retiring clerks also stayed for a similar transition period and were very helpful. "I feel like I'm part of this place."

B.C. government salaries over $75,000 are reported in the public accounts, and the base salaries for MLAs and the added amounts for cabinet ministers, caucus officials, the premier and the leader of opposition are set out in law.

Asked why the terms of his employment shouldn't be transparent when others' receiving public money are, MacMinn said, "It's not different at all. It will appear in the public accounts in due course. I'm just another clerk."

MacMinn retired as clerk and began his consulting role on Sept. 1, 2011. The public accounts for fiscal 2011-2012 will be released next summer. In 2010-2011 the legislative assembly paid MacMinn $252,560 as clerk.

As part of the transition, MacMinn is also keeping his central office on the second floor of the legislature. His replacement, James, has stayed in the clerk of committees office at the end of the hallway.

"Out of respect I think Craig just made that decision and there's no reason for anyone to be upset about it," said government house leader Rich Coleman. "I commend him on being a big enough man to let [MacMinn] stay in his office and still get the job done."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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