Backbenchers support Rathgeber’s bill

WATCH: Interview with Gregory Thomas of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation who condemns the Conservative government’s “gutting” of Rathgeber’s bill. Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney and MP John Williamson both worked for the CTF, which advocates for lower taxes and accountable government.

OTTAWA – At least two Conservative backbenchers say they would have supported Brent Rathgeber’s private member’s bill to expose the salaries of senior federal civil servants in its original form.

And Conservative MP Brad Trost says the Prime Minister’s Office went too far in its treatment of Rathgeber, his good friend.

“They shouldn’t have criticized him as he went. Brent’s been a good member,” said Trost.

“To tell him that basically now he should resign and go in a byelection, is not a respectful way to handle this.”

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Both Trost and Conservative Stephen Woodworth said they would have supported Rathgeber’s bill, before it was watered down by fellow Conservatives. The move served as the impetus for Rathgeber’s decision to quit caucus Wednesday night.

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“I would have been happy to support his bill in its original form if I had been allowed a free vote to do so,” said Woodworth.

Said Trost: “I think it was good legislation. I think PMO should have handled this much differently.”

Rathgeber’s bill  would have raised the transparency bar for salary disclosure to $188,000. But the committee reviewing the legislation instead decided to raise the threshold to more than $400,000.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation condemned the government’s treatment of Rathgeber’s sunshine bill.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that the government would gut a piece of accountability legislation in order to keep taxpayers from finding out what senior government employees do and make,” said spokesman Gregory Thomas.

“What are they trying to hide?”

When asked by Global News about Rathgeber’s departure, most Conservative MPs said he was a good member and they were sorry to see him go, but they disagreed for the most part about his criticisms of PMO control.

“I don’t agree with him at all. Quite frankly I think he’s dead wrong on that. I think he has his personal viewpoints, and he’s welcome to them. But you can still share the elements of where we need to go, with having a difference of opinion” said Ontario Conservative Daryl Kramp.

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“Sometimes there’s strength in diversity of opinion.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

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