Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mayoral win means pension goes to charity: Wasylycia-Leis

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The politician nicknamed "Judy three names" promises she won't triple-dip at the public trough.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who is expected to enter the mayoral race against Sam Katz, said she will give away her MP's pension if she wins the election in October.

Today in Ottawa, Wasylycia-Leis plans to resign the Winnipeg North seat she has held since 1997. Her time in Ottawa as an NDP MP entitles her to a pension of $65,000 a year.

But if she runs for mayor and wins, she will direct the funds to a charitable foundation, she said Thursday in an interview. She inquired about simply returning the pension but federal rules prohibit such a practice, she said.

"In my mind, I don't think it's appropriate for an elected representative to be collecting revenues from two sources of public funds," Wasylycia-Leis said. "There's a perception of double-dipping and it's an important message to send."

Wasylycia-Leis also sat as a Manitoba MLA from 1986 to 1993. In 1997, when she was elected to Parliament, she began sending back her provincial pension, she said.

She no longer remembers how much money she is entitled to earn from her MLA's pension, she said.

"In the past, I made a point of not double-dipping. If I run (for mayor) and I'm elected, I will do the same," she said.

The soon-to-be-former MP's decision was applauded by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"I think it's great if she doesn't take it. It's a personal decision for taxpayers if they think it's appropriate or not," said Colin Craig, the organization's Manitoba director.

"I hope she will call her colleagues in Ottawa and get them to change the rules. It's obscene she can't give it back," he added.

"It's ludicrous: Ottawa is running a $50-billion deficit and someone's offering them money."

In a Probe Research/Free Press poll conducted in March, Wasylycia-Leis was Winnipeg voters' No. 2 choice for mayor in a field of five possible candidates. Katz ranked No. 1 and led Wasylycia-Leis by 15 percentage points.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2010 B1

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