18 October 2012

The Challenge of Perspective #nlpoli

From Kathy Dunderdale’s unscripted speech to Conservative party delegates at the 2012 annual meeting:

Only the people who love us very much will be around when we finish this job because it takes over your life. I remember being in a Treasury Board meeting and somebody saying, you know, you can’t do that. You can’t expect somebody to drive a hundred miles a day and work for minimum wage, and somebody said, well sure, you ask Ross Wiseman to do it every day.

Ross Wiseman did not work for minimum wage for his entire time in cabinet or as Speaker of the House of Assembly, no matter how you slice it.  Sure, politics is a thankless, tireless job but Ross has been well paid for his time in politics and he will get a comfortable pension on top of whatever he accumulated as a public servant before he got into politics more than a decade ago.

But even so, under the current administration’s policy, Wiseman and his cabinet colleagues can commute to work in St. John’s no matter where they work in the and be reimbursed by taxpayers for any expenses their incur. 

They get airplane tickets, gas for their cars, rental cars, meals and accommodations depending on where they chose to live.  In practice, something like half the cabinet has been known to live outside St. John’s and commute periodically to work in St. John’s.

That comment from someone at a treasury board meeting betrays a rather unusual perspective on what it means to work for minimum wage.  Odds are the person they were speaking about would have to bear the cost of commuting entirely out of his or her own pocket.  if Ross had to do the same thing, he would have quit years ago.