What the hell was Doug Ford thinking?
That is what I thought after hearing about the details of Ian Todd being appointed to the position of Ontario’s Trade Representative in Washington.
Now let me be clear, I actually think that Ian Todd is a good choice for this office. Whoever is in this post needs to know and understand politics and that is something that Todd excels at.
I don’t know Ian well but I have been dealing with him off and on since 2005.
I’ve seen him on the campaign trail and we know each other well enough to know what the other brings to the table.
More Alberta than Ontario.
As a representative for Ontario, my first reaction was to question Ian’s ties to the province. Mostly I have known him as an Alberta guy. He has been active in federal politics for years, but mostly as an Albertan.
So there is that.
Still, I actually think he can do a good job for Ontario.
Then comes the question of his compensation.
The trade rep for Ontario will be earning more than the Canadian ambassador to Washington.
How much more?
More than the average Canadian working full-time earns in a year.
And that is where the problem starts.
Pay and perks.
The ambassadors salary ranges between $247,900 and $291,600.
That means that Todd’s salary is, at a minimum, $58,400 more than the ambassador. That differential is more than the average Canadian earns while working full time hours.
The Ontario government is quick to point out that unlike the person that preceded Todd, he will not get pension payments or severance if he is replaced.
According to reports, the former representative, Monique Smith, received a salary of $274,144 in 2017. She was also entitled to $25,000 a year in lieu of pension and was provided an apartment.
Smith, a former Dalton McGuinty cabinet minister, was also granted a year of severance if she was replaced.
We are now paying that.
Why on earth would Wynne have granted Smith a year of severance as part of the deal, it is obscene.
Yet so too is Todd’s compensation.
Pay, plus, plus paid for by you.
Like Smith, Todd will get an apartment paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario. That is in addition to his $350,000 a year salary.
Call me crazy but when you are getting paid that much you can afford to pay for your own damn apartment.
Ford’s ministers and his office are quick to point out that all told Todd’s compensation, when factoring in pension and severance is in line with Smith’s. They also point out that they have also cut more than $700,000 in retainers paid to lobbyists and consultants in D.C.
All of that is great.
Yet this package still stinks.
I’ve asked Ford’s office if there are other perks like a car and driver, club memberships paid for and the like. So far I don’t have a straight yes or no.
Judging by Smith’s package though I am guessing that Todd will have a full benefits package.
Ford’s defenders will say this is all par for the course, that these are the types of deals that are required to attract top talent.
But I thought Doug Ford was going to Queen’s Park to do things differently, to respect the taxpayer.
Giving your former campaign advisor a cushy contract doesn’t sound like what was promised.