Secret payouts for B.C. MLAs approved by committee

The speaker of the B.C. Legislature admits a secret decision to provide severance to all MLAs who lose their seats because of recall petitions was probably not the best idea.

In 2011, a secret bi-partisan committee of MLAs decided to extend severance payments to any MLA that was successfully recalled by their constituents.

That means any MLA fired by their constituents will be entitled to 15 months salary, or about $127,000 — no matter why they were voted out.

Speaker Bill Barisoff says in hindsight, the committee should have added conditions for payment, depending on why the recall took place.

For example, Barisoff says, any MLA recalled because they committed a criminal act probably shouldn't get any severance.

But he says the committee has no current plans to change the policy.

Earlier this year Barisoff was called out by Auditor General John Doyle for failing to properly monitor the legislature's $63-million operating budget.

The Recall and Initiative Act allows a registered voter to petition to remove a MLA from office.

According to Elections B.C., the Chief Electoral Officer has approved 24 recall applications since 1995, but only managed to gather enough signatures to force one MLA, B.C. Liberal Paul Reitsma, to step down.

"Of the 24 petitions issued, six were returned to Elections B.C., two proceeded to verification, and one continued through the full verification process," said the Elections B.C. website.

"Twenty three of the 24 petitions failed as they did not collect enough valid signatures. One petition was halted during the verification process because the MLA in question resigned."

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