Departing premiers get plenty of perks

James McLeod
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Unlimited moose, a staffer and an extra month’s pay among the benefits

As though there wasn’t already plenty of reason for Steve Kent, Paul Davis and John Ottenheimer to hustle to become premier, it’s a great way to get a free moose licence.

Busts of the prime ministers and the first premier of Newfoundland and Labrador at Confederation Building. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Aside from the base $95,000 salary as MHA and the extra $72,000 salary you get as premier, there’s a whole list of secondary benefits that come with the job.

And the benefits don’t go away when you retire.

The environment minister can, at his or her discretion, issue free fishing licences, badges, tags and seals free of charge to any former premier upon request.

Former premier Roger Grimes is the last one to avail of the privilege — he said that later this fall he’ll be heading into the woods with some friends to get his moose.

“I have the last three (years),” he said. “I don’t own a gun. I’m not a hunter, but I do have entitlement to a licence.”

Grimes said the rules are that one of this friends can actually take the moose on his licence as long as he’s there when the animal is killed.

He said he gets some sausages and a couple roasts from the moose, but his wife doesn’t like it much.

“It’s a great way to spend the better part of a week,” he said. “We just enjoy it.”

If going into the woods after a moose isn’t your thing, though, there are other benefits.

A retiring premier is entitled to an office on the scale usually given to cabinet ministers — up to 500 square feet — for up to three years after resigning.

Moreover, a former premier can hire a private secretary for up to three years, at a salary comparable to the premier’s personal assistant — roughly $70,000 according to this year’s budget details.

A spokesman for the premier’s office said that every premier in the province’s history, except for Beaton Tulk and Tom Rideout, have used the office and secretarial allowance.

Retired premier Kathy Dunderdale is using it, and has hired her daughter, Sara Dunderdale.

Dunderdale declined to do an interview for this story, but Grimes said that there’s a lot of work to be done after you resign as premier.

He said he kept his former executive assistant on to do the private secretary work.

“She stayed on in that job,” he said. “She archived all of my cabinet papers, all of my documentation, put it all into a filing system, got ready to ship some stuff over to the university and all that kind of stuff.”

The same process would allow a former premier to keep their own files on issues important to them, for example if they were doing post-retirement speeches or writing a book.

The provision for the private secretary goes back a long way, though. It was originally authorized in a cabinet order shortly after Frank Moores retired in 1979, and it was made retroactive so it applied to both Moores and Joey Smallwood.

As if being a former premier wasn’t already sweet enough, they also get severance pay — 81.2 per cent of their gross salary, with one month’s severance for every year worked, to a maximum of 12 months.

Aside from severance, another cabinet order from 1975 stipulates that ministers and premiers retiring get paid up until the end of the month, and then they keep getting their salary for the month after they retire, too.

The extra month that you get paid after you retire isn’t counted as pensionable time.

The premier’s car allowance also applies for up to three months after retirement.

Twitter: TelegramJames

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Recent comments

  • Charles Murphy
    August 11, 2014 - 05:17

    Some people was wondering what happen to me, I wasn't there with my usual comments concerning important issues, sorry , I was busy looking for a document to clear my name, and I found its. Now lets get to the issues at hand, I think its " Absolutely Ridiculous", That so many of our citizen has to go with out, So elite few can benefit from our labour, As for our former politicians receiving free moose license, If they can't afford to buy one, then go with out. Far has I'm concern, if we got to pay , they should also, because they are no difference then the rest of us. Now its time for Dwight Ball to show leadership, by making this a policy, stop wasting taxpayers money. I'm surprise the shopping malls isn't sending a bill's to government, for keeping our seniors warm. or some kind of tax break.

  • Anna
    August 10, 2014 - 17:59

    No wonder people are enraged with politicans after reading this article I am totally disgusted. I had respect for Roger Grimes but after reading about his feeling of entitlement to these benefits, well that ship has sailed. This past week, we have read about Alison Redford and how much she felt she was entitled as Premier, then we have Mike Duffy and now our past premiers are acting no differently. Well they ever have enough money and don't give me this shi- about how they gave up family life to serve the public. Then politicans wonder why the voting public has lost interest.

  • George Francis
    August 10, 2014 - 11:10

    Office and secretary allowance is a farce. These people have retired and have the time to do their own work. The most disgusting thing raised in this article is that Dunderdale hired her own daughter. Amazing politicians. Let's get our leaders speak to this and what changes they would make. Disgusted

  • Fat
    August 09, 2014 - 23:12

    With all of the cuts the people of NL are and will be experiencing in services in order to pay for Muskrat Falls, isn't it high time to trim some of the fat from these politicians' (both current and former) incomes? Of course, no sitting government is interested in trimming that kind of fat. What a culture of self-entitlement is inherent in politics.

  • Sam Freed
    August 09, 2014 - 20:56

    Lets clarify something.. Roger Grimes gets access to a moose license every year and admits he doesn't own a gun but a friend can kill the animal for him as long as he is in eyesight! That would mean, within the rules, he gets a 'party' license as that is the only way someone else can shoot a moose for him, or he is flagged as 'disabled' by wildlife. If not he is permitted to function outside of the rules. I have no issue of former premiers getting a moose license but they should have to harvest it themselves. Aren't laws designed for everyone? Sam

  • AJ
    August 09, 2014 - 16:58

    Notice how they justify these enormous allowances. Still when the results of their own study recommend that they raise min wage, they vote against it. The Liberals are no better, they voted against the private members motion, asking that the gov abide by the recommendations of their own study. They definitely have an *all for me, none for you* attitude. KD's offering of 25 cents, in a years time, got her what she deserved....the boot. There's been no min wage increase since Danny's time. Rent has gone through the roof since then, along with food. People earning min wage are in a crisis situation, with no hope for change in their future. People, bring up this conversation, so gov can come to realize the importance of it.

  • Baywop
    August 09, 2014 - 14:28

    She resigned, quit on those who elected her. Unacceptable that a family member is then put on the payroll...and people wonder why the public is cynical about much of the political process? This is a case in point.

  • Observer
    August 09, 2014 - 13:41

    Small minded, petty, parochial mean-spirited journalism.

    • Truth
      August 10, 2014 - 22:29

      Only the truth can set us free. Some prefer lies and bondage.

  • W Bagg
    August 09, 2014 - 12:41

    Hiring your daughter, nepotism is well cemented in NL.

  • Cool
    August 09, 2014 - 11:14

    Given the importance of the job, the stress, the 24 hour on duty state, time away from his/her family, frineds and sounds like being a premier is hardly worth the benefits.

  • Hired Her Daughter
    August 09, 2014 - 09:49

    Of course thrre are no public competitions for these $70 thousand a year jobs to, as former Premier Grimes put it, to archive and clean up "stuff". But surely to God to hire your own daughter must be a conflict of interest under the Public Service Act?

  • Corporate Psycho
    August 09, 2014 - 09:42

    Just look at the business perks Mr. Williams received. Mr. Coleman only just said he wanted to be Premier and got 19 million back. Must be nice.

  • Bewildered
    August 09, 2014 - 08:31

    You got to be kidding. In a poor province like here this has been going on for too long. This is more of a reason for a change of government and a complete overhaul of the perks. Dunderdale should have done the interview and explained why she needs the private secretary on our tax dollars.

  • Bewildered
    August 09, 2014 - 08:29

    You got to be kidding. In a poor province like here this has been going on for too long. This is more of a reason for a change of government and a complete overhaul of the perks. Dunderdale should have done the interview and explained why she needs the private secretary on our tax dollars.

  • me
    August 09, 2014 - 08:20

    Dunderdale hired her daughter. Even after she retires, she is still at it. I guess she can't get a job somewhere else.

  • Crazy
    August 09, 2014 - 05:20

    Organize crime, at its finest.

  • Alex
    August 09, 2014 - 04:19

    Even if you Quit? They should be treated like everyone else who quits a job morning. They were hired by the people and they should have to fulfill there term. If they Quit like so many have done then they shouldn,'t have any entitlement. DONT USE MY EMAIL!