Apply EI rules to absent politicians

We are now just over a month into the prorogation of Parliament. Our members of Parliament and our prime minister are now in the boat that so many Canadians find themselves — out of work. The difference is, of course, that MPs face the luxury of a work stoppage with full salary, and they know when they will be back at work.

Some of us consider this unfair.

If you are not working, how can you draw such salaries? Perhaps you should be donating it to a worthy cause (and by this I do not mean your re-election fund). And surely you should not be also accruing pension benefits or drawing on expense accounts. After all, “your” salary is “our” money given to you by us taxpayers under the assumption that you are working for us — full-time.

What can we do about this?

Should we prorogue our taxes to the government this year? Should we also halt our civic duties and avoid jury duty? If government isn’t functioning and fulfilling its role to me, I hardly feel like fulfilling my role to it.

Unfortunately, these moves, unless adopted by the masses, would be seen as subversive and probably result in fines and penalties, so we’ll have to find other ways to get the point across. At a minimum we should all prorogue political contributions.

Perhaps we can look at a government program for what to do in out-of-work situations. We can look to Employment Insurance for guidance.

First of all, let’s demand that the salaries of the Conservative MPs, including the prime minister, get cut to the maximum allowable under the EI system. This might encourage a shortening of the period away from Parliament.

Since MPs insist they are not on vacation and are working hard during prorogation, let’s have them report on their activities biweekly, like with EI.

After all, the only benefit of prorogation is that MPs can get on with their real work, unshackled by the circus of Parliament and question period.

Call me a cynic, but I would like some kind of proof. MPs should be held to the same standards as the unemployed or underemployed in Canada.

While on EI, you cannot leave the country and draw benefits. To me this implies that there should be no sunny sojourns for our MPs. Similarly, you have to be ready and available to work every day, Monday through Friday, which means there should be no vacations for MPs even within Canada during this time.

Thinking of taking your family to the Olympics? Think again. It is against the EI rules unless you declare the time and do not claim benefits for that period.

MPs should be working their tails off every day — perhaps not looking for work as is the case with EI, but working in their communities, ready to report the number of hours of work and their activities.

Perhaps instead of asking the number of employers MPs worked for, we could ask how many constituents they helped, and ask for telephone numbers for verification purposes. After all, there are plenty of community issues that deserve and require attention, and plenty of volunteer bodies needed daily.

If everything is perfect in an MP’s community, then there is always food to be prepared at soup kitchens, blood to be donated and seniors’ driveways to be cleared.

EI also limits how long you receive benefits and how many times you can claim EI. This should apply to proroguing as well.

Extending the analogy to football now, as the Super Bowl is fast approaching; this implies a maximum number of “time outs” should be mandated. Perhaps it should be legislated that there only be one “time out” per elected government.

Also, time outs can’t be called while a football is in the air (read killing 30 Bills in progress) and they also can’t be called for the remainder of the game when you are losing (read Afghanistan detainees).

This is the second time we’re dealing with prorogation in so many years, and there is no reason to think that it won’t happen again.

Lessons from the EI system and sports rules on time outs may make the system more just and fair.

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