Larry Smith slammed for 'pay cut' comment
Senator said he is taking a 'dramatic, catastrophic pay cut' to serve public
Senator Larry Smith may have fumbled out of the gate.
The outgoing president of the Montreal Alouettes was being chided online Thursday for stating he was taking a "dramatic, catastrophic pay cut" to serve the public in the Senate.
Smith made the comment in an interview Wednesday on CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon.
Smith, 59, whose Alouettes salary is not known, was appointed on Monday to the Senate, where the base annual salary is $132,300.
A day later, he announced he would seek the Conservative nomination in a Montreal riding at the next general election.
When Smith was asked by Solomon if he believed it was cynical political strategy to use his new profile to help launch his bid to become an MP, the political novice responded with a quick "no."
"You have to understand that I've worked very hard over my career and, to do what I'm doing now, I'm making a major, major concession in my lifestyle to even be a senator," Smith said.
"I'm not trying to be arrogant, because I'm not, but I made a commitment to get myself into a higher form of public service than the philanthropic stuff I've done for the last 30 years."
Smith, a former CFL commissioner and newspaper publisher, was then pressed further on the lifestyle impact.
"In simple terms, the money I was earning in my last profession to where I would be in this profession is what I would call a dramatic, catastrophic pay cut," Smith said.
"And I have a family — I have obligations ... I am making a major commitment to do what I'm going to do so I don't look at it as being cynical at all."
'Save Larry Smith'
The online response to Smith's comments was swift. Early on Thursday, a tongue-in-cheek website dubbed "Save Larry Smith," with accompanying Twitter feed and YouTube video, popped up on the web.
The 52-second video takes shots at a number of Conservative senators, but focuses on Smith, who "needs your help. Please be generous this holiday season."
The video urges people to donate so that the senator will have "enough Dom Perignon and caviar to make it through this very difficult New Year's Eve."
Some people went to their Twitter accounts saying they'd love a pay cut to $132,300, while others encouraged Smith to turn down the job if the pay wasn't good enough.
"So a six-figure salary with an expense account and a massive travel allowance is a 'catastrophic' situation,'" one reader wrote on CBC's website. "Yep that guy is going to have the best interests of Canadians in heart since he has so much in common with us."
Another opined: "Considering he's paid a very generous salary plus benefits, much more than the average person he is supposed to serve, he used the wrong choice of words and the wrong people to use them on."
On Twitter, one writer chimed in about the "catastrophic pay cut."
"There's Canadian values we know and love," went the tweet.
Smith said that even if his stay in the Senate might be short, he's confident people will get their money's worth.
"I think I'm going to deliver full value for anything that's asked of me during the period that I'm in the Senate," he said. "I'm not going up there for a free ride."