N.S. takes aim at convicted MLAs' pensions
Government moves to close loophole that allows accused to save their retirement plans
A Nova Scotia MLA says new legislation poised to cut pensions of convicted politicians is targeting him directly.
Trevor Zinck, who represents Dartmouth North, is the last of four MLAs accused in the province’s spending scandal. The other three have been convicted, but were able to keep their pensions because of a loophole in the legislation. The situation sparked outrage in the public, as people demanded their pensions be cut.
But under the old rules, those who retired or resigned before the trial could keep their pensions regardless of the outcome.
The changes announced Monday mean those who quit before trial will lose their pensions if convicted.
The rules are effective immediately, meaning if convicted, Trevor Zinck could lose his pension.
Changes a 'concern'
Zinck was quick to react, saying the province was obviously implementing new rules because of his case.
"The fact that this is enacted immediately, that’s one concern," he said. "Obviously it’s a direct hit to me."
Zinck said if the NDP was genuine about their desire for change, they would have made the new rules apply to all civil servants.
"With the pending election it makes the NDP look like they’re attempting to do something about it again."
Zinck is due in court in June for his trial on charges of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust.
"I’m going to go through with the court case," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. I’m confident and I’ll deal with it after that."
The new legislation also includes a provision that would require members to pay back any public money they may owe. Their pensions can now be garnished.
Ex-MLA Dave Wilson owes the province about $61,000. If he does not pay it back, the government could dock his pension.
The new rules to the Retiring Allowance Act would only apply to serious crimes that include a maximum sentence of more than five years.