An anti-lockdown MP proposed reducing political salaries in solidarity with ordinary Canadians forced onto benefit payments by the government’s pandemic response, only to have the bill rejected and the legislature vote to reduce his salary instead.
Ontario member of the provincial parliament (MPP) Roman Baber introduced a bill in the Ontario parliament this week to reduce MPP salaries to $500 a week, the amount given to Canadians under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This ‘We Are All in This Together Act’, he said, would give lawmakers an incentive to end lockdown by leaving them in the same situation as the public.
Baber’s private members’ bill was rejected but was countered by Progressive Conservative group government leader Paul Calandra, who put forward a motion to reduce just Baber’s salary to the $500 a week level instead. The proposal to target only the anti-lockdown member of the Ontario parliament passed with the unanimous consent, the Toronto Star reports.
“The government is quick to shut down the economy, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers on Employment Insurance. The unemployment rate is almost double and more than 400,000 Ontarians remain unemployed compared to pre-pandemic levels,” Baber said.
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While the original bill would have cut Ontario MPP salaries from $2,240 per week to just $500, the counter motion would not have any effect according to the Ontario speaker Ted Arnott, who stated that only legislative statues can change Ontario MPP salaries.
“It’s easy to pass laws that destroy people’s livelihoods when you’re on government salary. My PMB will encourage MPPs to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions, when many Ontarians can’t afford to put food on the table,” Baber added.
Baber also criticised Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who removed Baber from the Progressive Conservative caucus last month after Baber publicly declared his opposition to the Wuhan coronavirus lockdowns enacted by the Ford government.
“The lockdowns aren’t working,” Baber wrote in an open letter to the Ford government and added, “They are killing lives instead of saving lives. I plead with you to accept this reality and end the lockdown.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) also criticised Baber who cited the rise in “thoughts of feelings of suicide” during the pandemic, claiming that the rise was linked to the pandemic itself and not the lockdown measures implemented by the government as Baber had suggested.
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Baber is not the first anti-lockdown critic to fall foul of the Ford government in recent months. Restaraunt owner Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson Barbeque, was arrested after defying lockdown measures by allowing indoor dinging for several days in November.
Initially, Premier Ford expressed sympathy for struggling small business owners but changed his attitude as Skelly’s protest continued saying, “You’re putting people’s lives in jeopardy. I always try to be nice the first time, but this guy is just totally ignoring public health officials.”
Some of who have attempted to protest the lockdowns in Toronto have also been arrested by police in recent weeks and late last month the Ontario government deployed 50 inspectors to large retailers and fined those who did not comply with mask and social distancing rules.