Stephen Harper is 6th highest paid world leader: study

Does Stephen Harper earn too much money?

According to an study, Stephen Harper is the sixth highest paid political leader in the world earning an annual salary of US$296,400.

In comparison, US President Barack Obama, ranked 4th, earns $400,000, while Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong tops the list earning a whopping $2,183,516.

The study invariably begs the question: does Harper make a fair salary?

There are certainly those that would argue, our prime minister earns too much money.

Other G20 country leaders, who govern larger populations and economies, such as the British prime minister David Cameron and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi don't even appear on the list.

Many Canadians might also take umbrage to the fact the average salary in Canada, in 2010, was $42,988 meaning Harper makes 7 times the average Joe.

Moreover, the average Joe isn't entitled to the same golden parachute pension that our politicians are.

When compared to executives in the private sector, however, the prime minister is not making nearly enough.

According to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study, the average total base compensation for Canada's best paid 25 CEOs in 2009 was $1.51 million/year. When bonuses, stock options, and pensions were taken into account that figure jumped to $6.6 million.

There are also salaries in the public sector that dwarf the prime minister's.

In British Columbia, for example, the Vancouver Sun notes that the Chair of the B.C. Securities Comission, a crown corporation, earned $503,096 while the President of the University of British Columbia earned $523,134.

Sean MacDonald, a professor at the University of Manitoba who specializes in compensation issues believes we should raise salaries, of all politicians, to encourage more top executives to run for office.

"It's a joke," he told MoneySense Magazine in a 2009 interview.

"When you look at how vast (one) government department is, ministers are grossly underpaid."