Citizens group says pension more
than Blondin-Andrew claims

NNSL (May 28/97) - Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew will draw a parliamentary pension of at least $26,017 a year should she fail to be re-elected on Monday.

That figure, calculated by the National Citizens Coalition, rises to $34,003 when she turns 55 in nine years. And it continues to grow according to inflation when she reaches 60.

Last week at an all-candidates debate in Inuvik, however, Ethel-Blondin-Andrew offered a different estimate of her pension. She said she would be drawing only $19,000.

Asked this week to explain the discrepancy, Blondin-Andrew said she got her figures directly from the House of Commons members services department earlier this month.

"This woman gave me the figure of $23,000," said Blondin-Andrew. "After taxes it's $19,500. That's the figure I was given as of last week."

National Citizens Coalition spokesman Jeff Ball said Blondin-Andrew isn't the first MP to provide inaccurate figures for their own pensions, which can be calculated using publicly available information

"I'm amazed at the numbers," Ball said. "Either they're lying ... or they're parroting information someone has told them."

Parliamentary pensions are available for every MP who has served at least six years in the House of Commons. They start collecting a base figure as soon as they lose their seat and then receive an additional sum when they turn 55 and again upon reaching 60.

Former MP and independent candidate Wally Firth, for example, now collects $12,720 a year. He said Sunday that, when he retires, his pension will be enough to live on.

The coalition also calculates the total amount a former MP will collect until the age of 75, assuming a fixed inflation rate of five per cent.

In Blondin-Andrew's case, the coalition estimates she will collect about $1,735,000.

House of Commons and Treasury Board officials refuse to release pension figures to the public. But because Firth, as a former MP, is still a client of the Treasury Board's pension office, he was able to obtain figures of Blondin-Andrew's pension.

He said he was also told her pension would start at about $26,000.