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EDITORIAL – Not much food for thought in MLA Milobar’s brown-bag bill

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

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.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5688 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Not much food for thought in MLA Milobar’s brown-bag bill

  1. Garry Worth // May 16, 2018 at 11:37 PM // Reply

    Maybe the Liberals should put a bill forward proposing that a politician is not allowed to use a picture of themselves on their campaign literature that is more than six months old….

  2. Entitlement! That is what it is al about. We all need to eat so why should some people have their meals paid for while others do not? ( For that matter, why can some deduct meals on their tax return? ) Of course when someone is not at home to make their own meals they are forced to use the services of others and that doesn’t come cheap.

    I realise MLA’s are probably not claiming $61 a day every day of the year, but let us not forget that sitting in the legislature is not the only time we are paying for their expenses. $61 a day is over 22 thousand dollars a year. That’s a crazy amount for food for one person! As I said we all need to eat and I don’t mind assisting to a certain extent those that cannot make their own meal because they are not at home but while at home they would need to pay for their groceries so perhaps the taxpayers should only pay for the cost of the meal prep not then entire bill. Let’s figure out what the cost of what an average person eats per day and use that as a the reference point. That amount is what the taxpayers can pay. Anything above that amount, is paid out of pocket by the politician. If the politicians want to eat steak and lobster every day, go ahead, but they pay the difference.

    Same goes for things like air travel. Take the cost of a economy ticket and if they want to fly first class, they should pay the difference out of their own pocket.

    I would question Peter Milobars motives behind this bill but it most certainly is an issue that needs to be addressed and not just in politics. The business world needs to get real too.

  3. Big fuss over nothing, like Milobar himself. Please enlighten me as to which corporations that lunchbucket workers receive a free lunch from? I think these elected persons are living in a dreamworld and they should have to pay for their own lunches, dinners etc etc.

  4. The girth of a number of MLA members suggest they should spend their lunch hour in the gym and skip lunch. Just another grandstand move by the Embarrassment from Kamloops.

  5. Stevan Puharich // May 15, 2018 at 6:18 AM // Reply

    There’s plenty of work to do for the MLAs without adding time wasters like lunch money for seven MLAs. ($360)

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