Guard against paycheck politicians

Brampton’s City Council recently approved a recommendation from the city’s compensation committee to raise the salaries of the Mayor and Councillors for the 2018-2022 term of office. The base salary for Councillors will increase 4.8% to $88,573 and the Mayor’s salary will increase by 25.9% to $139,374. Each member of council will also be entitled to a $15,896 car allowance. The Mayor and Regional Councillors are further compensated by the Region of Peel.

Despite social media outrage against the increase, the Mayor and the Councillors are vastly underpaid when compared to the compensation of public servants in the city and region. While the number of city staff on the annual ‘Sunshine List’ continues to grow, Councillors receive a salary on par with an entry level staff position. The job of a council member, when done well, is a 24/7 position that requires sacrifice away from family while under constant public scrutiny.

Unfortunately, the infighting, scandals, and slow progress plaguing Brampton’s city council give ample justification for freezing or even cutting their salaries. It is embarrassingly painful to sit through Council meetings and listen to long serving incumbents asking staff basic questions on meeting protocol. If these Councillors cannot grasp basic procedure after decades in office, how can they comprehend the issues in dealing with an operating budget of $700 Million dollars? Perhaps this is why they seem to so easily approve budget and tax increases without demanding great value for taxpayer money.

The 2018 Municipal election in October will undoubtedly see a flood of candidates vying to represent you. Some will put their name up for election as a publicity stunt. Others will use the election as an opportunity to promote themselves. Some will genuinely care about where the city is headed and will truly want to make a difference.

The job of being a Councillor is by no means easy at the best of times. In Brampton, the job is even more challenging because of our rapid growth and desire to transform from a sleepy suburb into a thriving city while keeping property taxes affordable. It is critically important to attract fresh, energetic, ambitious and talented individuals to seek the job, and for incumbents to question their reason for seeking re-election. The city does not need politicians that simply want a steady paycheck.

Prime Minister Paul Martin once allocated a commission to travel across Canada and find out why young people were jaded about the political system. The report is likely buried deep in the bowels of Parliament Hill, long forgotten and covered in dust.  However, lies, deceit, and scandal after scandal with no repercussions have certainly made politics and politicians a dirty word. The problem is compounded by incompetent incumbents who cling to their seat, collecting a paycheck and a healthy pension with very little accountability other than every 4 years.

In the coming months, Brampton Focus will actively engage voters about their concerns, ideas, and what they want to see from those running. We are planning a series of townhalls across the city that are geared around residents, not around politicians. We hope that candidates listen to what residents expect of their representatives.

We encourage all residents to participate in the process, ask the hard questions, and seriously consider the ideas and platforms of all candidates. The future of Brampton is at stake.