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[Report] Learn about the lives of retired MPs in Canada

Life outside of the political arena

The House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday March 24, 2020.

The House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday March 24, 2020.

Photo: La Presse canadienne / Adrian Wyld

RCI

In Canada, the federal election has ended, and the results are there for all to see. Many MPs will be heading to the House of Commons for the first time, while others may have just seen their last election from Parliament Hill.

In Canada, it is not unusual to see retired MPs living just like ordinary people. Learn what retirement is like for Canada’s MPs:

No security detail

Former MPs in Canada are not provided with a security detail, and their day-to-day interactions with the public are like anyone else’s. Note, however, that even existing MPs have no security detail. Brampton, Ontario’s Gurbax Singh Malhi, Canada’s first turbanwearing MP, says that there is no need for security and there is no such provision.

A modest pension

Former MPs in Canada do not get as many allowances as India’s MPs, and their pensions are comparatively modest. Those pensions are funded in part by atsource pay deductions during their tenure, and in part by government contributions. That’s why former MPs often hold jobs or run their own businesses.

Furthermore, not every former MP is entitled to a pension. To qualify, the person must be 65 years of age or older or have served as an MP for at least six years, not necessarily consecutively. One term for a Canadian MP is four years.

When Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced an early election in August 2021, some 142 MPs whose seats would be contested stood to miss out on their pensions if they were to lose. These MPs were those who were elected for the first time in October 2015, had been reelected in 2019, and would have reached the sixyear mark in late October 2021.

ਸਾਬਕਾ ਐਮ ਪੀ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ ਗਰੇਵਾਲ ਹਾਊਸ ਆਫ਼ ਕਾਮਨਜ਼ ਦੌਰਾਨ  Enlarge image (new window)

ਸਾਬਕਾ ਐਮ ਪੀ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ ਗਰੇਵਾਲ ਹਾਊਸ ਆਫ਼ ਕਾਮਨਜ਼ ਦੌਰਾਨ

Photo: ਧੰਨਵਾਦ ਸਾਹਿਤ ਗੁਰਮੰਤ ਗਰੇਵਾਲ

Former Surrey MP Gurmant Grewal, who now runs an immigration business in Surrey, British Columbia, says that, in Canada, the pension for MPs is not enough to make ends meet. Former MPs, he says, can’t sit idle at home and have to keep working to cover their expenses.

He points out that in 2012, during the Stephen Harper administration, government contributions to former MPs’ pensions were reduced. Grewal and his wife Nina Grewal have both been elected MP three times.

According to the information received, prior to the 2012 change, the government contributed 1.62 dollars for every dollar contributed by the MP. In 2012, that government contribution was reduced to 1 dollar.

Former MP Devinder Shory currently practices law in Calgary, Alberta. Shory says the reduction in MPs’ pensions in 2012 was a commendable step.

Shory said he does receive a pension but is active in his field because his background is in law.

Grewal said that retired MPs also have difficulty finding jobs when they go back to normal life.

He says many companies are hesitant to hire if they view the individual as being aligned with a particular party. Despite their qualifications, their past political affiliations are an obstacle.

Shory, however, says that has never been his experience.

Former MP Gurbax Singh Malhi in conversation
PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA / Sarbmeet Singh

Former MP Gurbax Singh Malhi in conversation PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA / Sarbmeet Singh

Photo: Radio-Canada / ਸਰਬਮੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ

Life outside the political arena

In Canada, retired MPs often step away from politics.

Malhi said that if any candidate turns to him for an election campaign, he answers the call, and he remains actively involved with his community.

Many ex-politicans do say, however, that once you lose an election, it is difficult to get back into the political arena. To get back on the ballot, you have to win nominations. For that reason, many prefer to get a job or start their own business and hang up their political hats.

Sarbmeet Singh

Posted: September 24, 2021, 2:59 p.m.

This report by our reporter Sarbmeet Singh has been translated from Punjabi to English.

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