Politics

Raj Saini stands to gain $92,900 severance but no pension after standing down

Former MP for Kitchener Centre, who withdrew candidacy over allegations that he harassed a female staff member, is still on ballot; but will receive payment if he loses

Former Kitchener Centre MP stepped down after facing allegations he harassed a female staff member

Former Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini is entitled to a $92,900 severance cheque, worth half his $185,800 MP's salary. (Facebook/Raj Saini)

Raj Saini stands to walk away with a $93,000 "golden goodbye" after standing down as a Liberal candidate.

The former MP for Kitchener Centre stepped down after facing allegations that he harassed a female staff member, allegations that he firmly denies.

Saini is entitled to a $92,900 severance cheque, worth half his $185,800 MP's salary.

He could also access a $15,000 allowance for departing MPs, which includes the cost of shredding papers, getting financial advice and trips to and from Ottawa.

Saini, 54, narrowly misses out on a pension, which is available to MPs aged 55 or older who have spent six years in office.

Taxpayers are expected to foot a hefty bill for "golden goodbyes" for MPs who retire or lose their seats after the election.

After the 2019 election, 94 MPs collected $5.8 million in severance payments, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which analyzed the payouts.

Saini did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. He stood down as a candidate in Kitchener Centre after the election began, following a barrage of questions about his alleged conduct toward a female staff member.

An investigation into a complaint by the House of Commons, according to Saini, found "nothing arose regarding concerns of harassment in the office."

But last week, the Commons' most senior official announced his intention to launch a review of the handling of the complaint to see if there are any shortcomings in the way the investigation was conducted.

CBC has reported that the woman who complained was not interviewed and was offered mediation as an option.

Saini has said he cannot discuss the allegations, which he says are "unequivocally false," because of privacy concerns. Liberal whip Mark Holland warned that a "trial" was taking place in which Saini could not answer back.

Because he stepped aside after the deadline for registering candidates, Saini's name remains on the ballot paper.

Some voters, including those who voted before polling day, may still choose to back him even though he is no longer officially the Liberal candidate.

Kitchener Centre is now a closely fought race between the Greens, who came second last time, the Conservatives who were in third place and the fourth-place NDP.

All retiring MPs or those who lose the election and don't qualify for a pension will be entitled to severance pay.

A number of MPs elected in 2015 who would have qualified for a pension on Oct. 19 — six years after the 2015 election date — will miss out.

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