The press is vaporing on about the retirements of Peter McKay and John Baird, as if these all comported deep rooted disaffections from PM Harper. Evan Solomon, the CBC’s licensed idiot, was particularly aghast at what he perceived to be Harper’s struggle.
More than 30 Conservative MPs are not running in the next election — a big number, even if it is, as the government says, a natural turnover.
And the timing is certainly bad. As Clement told The House, all ministers were instructed to tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper months ago if they planned not to run in the fall election. Planning is paramount in any campaign, especially one expected to be so closely contested.
Here is what I am informed is the much more mundane reason why many people are leaving. A pension rule change, which Harper introduced, meant that Members of Parliament would not collect, if they were under fifty five years of age, their MP pension for ten years until they were sixty-five years old. MPs would not collect ten years’ worth of pension unless they resigned before the rule change came into effect.
Thus Members of Parliament of sufficient long-standing would lose about a million dollars of income over ten years if they did not resign. If they kept on, they could run the risks of re-election. Faced with the certainty of a million dollars ($100,000 a year for ten years) if you resign in time, or possibly nothing if you run and lose the election, and collect only when you reach 65 years of age, why would you not resign?
The point of this is that I have not seen a single newspaper report linking pension rule changes to the spate of resignations.
If you qualified for $100,000 a year and the possibility of earning more money through your own efforts, or trying to win re-election as a Member of Parliament for another ten years, what would you do?
Addendum of June 2: The National Post addresses the salient economic facts here.