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The next casualty of government cuts: free parking for political aides

Gridlocked cars are shown in front of the Parliament buildings on Rideau St. in Ottawa Aug. 14, 2003.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

The most senior political aides in the Conservative government are losing their free parking as Treasury Board President Tony Clement says he's still on the hunt for perks that can be trimmed.

In a morning speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa, the minister in charge of federal spending restraint says a recent ban on parking subsidies for government executives will save $2.6-million a year.

The new ban on free parking for chiefs of staff will likely only save a fraction of that, given that there are only about two dozen in Ottawa.

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Mr. Clement's speech is silent though on whether ministers themselves plan to give up any perks, such as their extensive travel budgets and chauffeur-driven cars.

But the minister does confirm that Members of Parliament and federal public servants will be expected to raise their pension contributions to 50 per cent.

"This is a structural change in the way government spends and represents, in the case of public service pensions, a significant savings for taxpayers," he said, according to an advance copy of the speech.

The Conservative government has been a harsh critic of Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, but Mr. Clement clearly likes the PBO's most recent report, which found federal finances are on a stable footing for the medium and long term.

"This fiscal sustainability is nothing short of freedom," said Mr. Clement. "Freedom to ensure key social programs that Canadian families depend on are there when they need them."

Mr. Clement did not repeat Mr. Page's concern however that the healthier federal finances are partly because the provinces are now on the hook for a growing share of government costs.

Mr. Clement's speech is heavy on partisan shots directed at the NDP and its leader Thomas Mulcair. The Treasury Board President said there's now a clear choice between the Conservatives' pro-business policies of low taxes and less red tape and the NDP's "old and discredited ways of mismanaging the economy."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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