Opinion

Please Advise! What's Wrong With a Little Pay Top-up?

Life on $195,000 is hard, but why not a paper route, suggests Dr. Steve.

By Steve Burgess 30 Apr 2016 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Good day. Recently the Globe and Mail revealed that in addition to my regular salary as premier of B.C. I receive extra compensation -- let's say $30,000 to $50,000 -- from the BC Liberal Party. This has caused some fuss.

That's silly. It's all perfectly above board. Let me break it down for you.

We all know it's tough to get by these days. Don't get me started on the price of housing! No really, don't ask because I have nothing to say. Anyway, I receive a $195,000 salary as premier. Well, never mind, I did not get into public service to get rich. But it's a struggle. So I got a paper route. Party officials worried that this was taking time away from doing the public's business and they took pity upon me with some extra cash.

But not for nothing! I work for that money. Gutters, pet grooming, some drywalling -- whatever is needed. When Uber inevitably comes to B.C. I can sign up, but in the meantime this system seems to be working well. I can tell you Energy Minister Rich Coleman is thrilled with his new bird feeder, and Attorney General Suzanne Anton says her coffee maker works perfectly now. It's a win-win.

So let's hear no more about this, OK?

Sincerely,

Premier Christy Clark

Dear Premier Clark,

We can all use some extra cash. As a kid I once sent away for those greeting cards you were supposed to sell door-to-door. Make big money, the ad in the comic book said. I ended up taking a bath on the postage mailing back the unsold cards.

But then I didn't have your connections, premier. You should give that a try. All the people you meet in the course of a day -- imagine if they all bought a package of greeting cards from you? And really, who wouldn't? If I was pitching a big new development or an LNG plant, of course I'd want to spring for a box of lovely cards suitable for every occasion. Amway would serve just as well -- in fact, the more diverse product line could even help you generate return business.

But on the other hand, if I was proposing a giant dam project I probably wouldn't much care what I was buying. Greeting cards by the pallet, air freshener by the crate -- whatever. Bill me.

NDP MLA David Eby was getting at this angle when he suggested in the legislature that you are in fact working on commission, Premier, just like a greeting card salesperson. You recently attended a fundraiser at which guests paid $10,000 a plate to be in your presence.

There are those who would be only too happy to believe that their money has served to buy influence with you, Premier Clark. But there are others who donate to political parties in pursuit of broader goals, attempting to advance particular policies by helping the party that advocates those policies. Do those donors always understand where their money is going? It would be interesting to know whether BC Liberal Party patrons always know whether they're paying for the next election campaign, or topping up your salary. Would it be possible to send such donors an itemized list of the groceries they have subsidized?

Then there are some donors who like to have their names on things, like the Peter C. and Elizabeth Toigo Diagnostic Services Building at Delta Hospital. Would you be willing to do the same with, say, your handbag? The "Your Name Here" Christy Clark Prada purse, or the Christy Clark/Daddy Warbucks Memorial Wallet?

I know you will insist that donors do not buy influence, Premier. In our system they are certainly not supposed to. But most of the time we are talking about money that is donated to a political party for political purposes, and even in those cases allegations of influence-buying are common.

In this case we are talking about Liberal Party funds going into your pocket -- money that comes in part from fundraising events at which you are the main attraction. So $10,000 a plate, $10,000 for a box of cards -- whatever. It's a sales gig.

Maybe you ought to go back to the paper route.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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