Issue IV - March 2005
Our association was born five years ago, an astonishing fact because it received unanimous all-party support in committee as well as in the Legislative Assembly.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
Thanks to The Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy, funds have recently been provided to pay for part-time office work. Jennifer McFarlane has joined us to staff our office each Thursday and Friday morning.
We have also been able to finalize the membership scrolls which each paid up member should receive shortly in the mail. I hope you find yours attractive enough to frame and prominently display. Each year as dues are paid a current seal will be mailed with your renewed membership identification card.
I would like to thank the executive members who have accepted responsibilities this past year, our part-time staff, Christian and Jennifer, The Speaker -The Honourable Alvin Curling, Wendy Iwai his Executive Assistant and all members of his staff for their support during the year.
Please put our Annual General Meeting in your calendar now for June 1st, and renew your membership as soon as you finish reading the InFormer. See you there!
Every good wish to each member.
Rev. Canon Derwyn Shea
Welcome to the Team
Formerly employed in the WSIB Secretariat, Jennifer McFarlane attends York University pursuing a degree in Social Work. Her secretarial, computer and office management skills are second to none and we are fortunate to have her on staff. Regular office hours are now Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a. m. to 1:00 p.m. By now you may have received a telephone call from Jennifer as she is calling all of our members to update files and information.
In the limelight...members enjoy the 2004 AGM
2005 Annual General Meeting • Put this date in your calendar!
Wednesday, June 1st is the date set for out 5th Annual General Meeting. The leader of each party will be invited in addition to the Speaker and the Lieutenant Governor. There will be time spent in the Speaker’s Gallery for Question Period and an opportunity for business and to pose for the official annual photograph. Please join us. Don’t forget to wear your OAFP pin!
Member’s Benefits are a Long-Term Concern
"It’s great that you have that pension, isn’t it?"
How many times have you been asked that question in the last few years? For members or former members elected since 1995 the answer is simple - "Actually we don’t have any pension." Instead, these former MPPs get about $ 4000/ year invested in the RRSP investment of their choice - an amount that has shrunk for many, and simply does not replace a defined benefit pension. The truth is that employers are not lined up to hire middle-aged former politicians, and most former members and many current MPPs feel this was a mistake. Anyone that serves a day under five years is disqualified from benefits entirely. Yet no one can even remember what is magic about five years.
Why do we do this to ourselves? The vast majority of elected officials I’ve met, regardless of party, are there for the right reasons - better government. When we as a society ask people to stand up in pubic and say what no one else wants to say, to work very long hours, to be away from spouse and family for long periods, and to place themselves and their families in the limelight for media scrutiny and public comment, we should ensure they have a dignified bridge back to private life, and that they and their families don’t suffer financially because of their public service. Our Association has members right now in their fifties and sixties who are unemployed (or underemployed) and are cashing in the last of RRSP savings to pay their bills. What does the future hold for them? We also have members that will not be able to afford critical physiotherapy if they have a stroke or need to have their teeth fixed in their seventies and eighties. What does it say about us if we allow this to stand?
Changing member’s pension and benefits is in the public interest because Ontario must attract talented, dedicated people to the Assembly from all walks of life - not just the wealthy. Those who lose an election now or are eliminated by changes in the ridings face upheaval in their personal and working lives. Increasingly, good people will refuse to enter public life unless they can rely on having a dignified exit.
Some will argue we did it to ourselves. Agreed. All parties have been guilty of playing the game of attacking MPP pay and benefits at one time or another. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act to establish an appropriate pay and benefits plan now.
I raise this issue now for two primary reasons: First because it appears that despite recent record profits, the insurance industry is looking for ways to decrease benefits coverage in employee plans across the board. Second, with seniors being a rising portion of our society and employers looking to control costs, defined benefit pension plans are starting to disappear. So decision makers at The Legislative Assembly will face increasing financial and political pressure to reduce or eliminate both. That would be a mistake.
The Integrity Commissioner is to report to Premier McGuinty on member’s pensions and benefits in 2005. Hopefully his report will be an opportunity to act on these important matters The time is long overdue to stop playing political football with MPP pay, benefits and pensions. Your executive is monitoring this matter but your opinion is important. If you feel inclined, why not send your thoughts now on this subject to us and to any current MPPs you know, so they can be more aware of the realities of life after ’the ledge’.
Terence H. Young, Vice Chair
In addition to regular business, we are trying to develop an office plan that would support members’ occasional use when visiting Toronto. More about this at the AGM.
Canadian Observers Mission, Ukraine 2004
Member David Fleet served in the mission... here is a brief account in his own words.
Interesting, exhausting, satisfying.
Those are the typical initial answers I provide to explain my experience as part of the first ever contingent of the "Canada Corps"" last December. The official Canadian Observers Mission to the rerun of the Ukraine Presidential Election had a contingent of 500. The mission was organized through the Canadian International Development Agency and its logistical consultant CANADEM. (Google CANADEM for more information). I was the Chernivtsi team leader of 18 Canadians. We traveled together across much of the Ukraine. Despite widely varying backgrounds, we had a common purpose centered on the rule of law, and transparent fairness in the exercise of a democratic election.
We started with ten days notice to gather in Ottawa for two days of government briefings. Briefings and preparation in Kyiv, including last minute travel arrangements inevitably meant that we functioned sleep deprived and with an erratic meal pattern. Twice (once on election day) I was up for more than 24 consecutive hours.
As I personally observed the election, it was better run than some I have participated in within Canada. International observers, of which Canadians were at the forefront, clearly achieved two purposes. First, we were a material deterrent to electoral fraud. Second, we were a material part of legitimizing the election of the winning presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.
The Canadian Observers Mission was indisputably political but non-partisan, with active participants from all five federal parties, plus many Canadians who typically had political experience but not necessarily of a partisan nature.
|OAFP Meets Westminster
Following a lengthy period of correspondence at his own expense, out chairman, Canon Shea, visited Westminster in August of 2004 for meetings with former Labour MP Joe Ashton. Mr. Ashton is chair of a group attempting to organize an association of former parliamentarians at Westminster.
It seems the Speaker at Westminster has been very supportive of the goals of former members but the current government doesn’t share the same enthusiasm. Lobbying efforts continue. We will keep you up to speed on future developments.
|OAFP’s First International Tour in Planning Stages
Our chair, Canon Derwyn Shea, has been working to develop a unique tour for members of OAFP There is some interest in scheduling the tour for either the spring or fall of 2006. The proposal is to fly from Toronto to Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London. At each city the two day stop-over would hopefully include a visit to each parliament, and meetings with the Speaker, sitting and former members, and dinner briefings by foreign affairs staff.
Details need to be settled before we can formally offer this tour for registration but we wish to express our appreciation to our Speaker, the Hon. Alvin Curling and his staff who have agreed to offer support for this proposal.
|OAFP Supports the Page Programme
Our finances have finally stabilized thus allowing us to tend to an outreach objective envisioned in our chapter. All of our members have experienced the value of the Page Programme first hand. We know the value to sitting members and we know involvement in the programme is a very positive experience for the participants.
To date we have donated $500 towards the Legislative Page Programme on our member’s behalf. If there are other projects you believe we should be considering please drop us a note with details.
Where they are now
Hon. Bob Rae:
|Members in the News
During the past year the following members have departed this life and we offer to their families our condolences and appreciation for their dedicated service to the people of Ontario.
Gordon Mills • Durham East • Died June 4, 2004 • Served 1990-1995 • NDP
Joseph Earl McEwen • Frontenac-Addington • Died November 6, 2004 • Served 1975-1985 • Liberal
John L. Brown • Beaches-Woodbine • Died December 2004 • Served 1971-1987 • NDP
Robert Boyer • Muskoka • Died January 20, 2005 • Served 1955-1971 • PC
|Stylish Membership Scrolls Debut
Paid-up members will soon receive their very prestigious membership scrolls. They have been described as understated and quietly elegant - something any of as would like to frame and display in our home or office.
Each year, upon payment of your annual dues, you will receive a renewed ID card and a seal designated for the current membership year to add to your scroll. Framing is left to the taste of each member but, please remember when having your scroll framed that you will need easy access to add your annual seal.
|We are interested in you... and so is Inside Queen’s Park!
The InFormer and Graham Murray (publisher of Inside Queen’s Park) would like to print brief stories about former members under the title "Where They Are Now" (we are not charging royalties).
If you are interested by all means send along your short CV to:
Inside Queen’s Park - Fax: 416.367.3778