For senators, working is optional

Two Liberal senators have had their pay docked for not showing up to work.

I mention this because of how the lead paragraph of the story is written:

Two Liberal senators have been fined for spotty attendance in the upper chamber during the last session of Parliament.

Fined. It implies punishment. When politicians or companies are fined, it’s supposed to be a big deal. To act as a deterrent, it’s supposed to result in a net negative for them. The whole point of fining is to make it less profitable for people to break the rules.

But let’s do a quick check of the math:

  • Annual salary: $122,700
  • Total meetings in the session: 113
  • Salary per meeting: $1,085.84
  • Fine, per sitting after 21 absences: $250

So let me get this straight: You get 21 freebies (not including sickness or “public business”), and after that you get fined $250 per sitting you miss, which is about a quarter of what you make for that sitting.

Quebec businessman Paul Massicotte was fined $2,750, or 2% of his salary, for missing 32 of 113 sittings, or 28%, without a valid excuse.  Had he not showed up to work for a single day this past session, he would still have earned $100,000 or about 80% of his salary.

That doesn’t sound like much of a “fine” to me. No wonder these people have no motivation to show up.

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