NOTHING REPRESENTS THE ENTITLEMENT of politicians more clearly and simply than a free lunch. Taxpayers picture their elected representatives living the life of Riley, dining and wining on the public’s hard-earned money as they tax and spend.
Maybe that’s what Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar has in his mind with his Private Members’ bill to eliminate meal allowances for Victoria-area MLAs.
That applies to seven MLAs — all of them either New Democrats or Greens — who are eligible for $61 a day along with the rest of the members of the Legislature.
Let’s remind ourselves of the principle behind paying meal allowances to politicians. The theory is that if you are representing your constituents on government business you may well have to eat at a restaurant, whereas if you are at home you would not. That means more money out of your pocket. Therefore, it’s reasonable to be paid an allowance for that.
Milobar’s line of thinking is that the seven Victoria MLAs can go home to eat so they shouldn’t get an allowance. But if it’s really about whether you have access to a place where you can cook a meal for yourself, out-of-town MLAs who rent accommodations with kitchens should be ineligible as well.
And maybe MLAs like Milobar who stay at hotels should be told to stay at places with kitchens instead. After all, hotel meals can be pretty pricey.
It all sounds like a bit of a play for some publicity and Milobar has been taking a bit of a thrashing in the media and in the Legislature for it. One can imagine the MLAs showing up for work at the Ledge with lunch buckets and brown bags full of sandwiches.
His bill, of course, will be promptly consigned to the wastepaper basket and soon forgotten.
To be fair, Milobar does quite often take the lead in the Ledge on important issues but this isn’t one of them.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.