Kaleed Rasheed, who is running for reelection in Mississauga East—Cooksville, is among the Ontario PC Party politicians whose pay was topped up by an “MPP allowance” paid through a riding association.
Publicly available Elections Ontario data, highlighted on Tuesday in a Global News story after the issue was raised by the Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP), shows eight members who served under Premier Doug Ford received money for housing, meals and entertainment. That would have been covered by donations and taxpayer subsidies. It is legal for an MPP to receive a so-called top-up in addition to a taxpayer-funded six-figure salary, although is apparently forbidden for federal members of Parliament. The ONDP also questioned why MPPs were getting extra money from donors and the public purse.
In the case of Rasheed, who was Ford’s associate minister of digital government, he was given a total of $23,000 in allowances from the bank account of the PCs’ Mississauga East—Cooksville riding association. He received $11,000 in 2019, when he already had his $131,888 annual salary as an MPP and committee chair, according to the Ontario Sunshine List.
In 2020, Rasheed got an apparent raise in his allowance, receiving $12,000. The ’20 Sunshine List states his salary was $132,867 for that year.
Rudy Cuzzetto, who is running for reelection in Mississauga—Lakeshore, is also one of the eight MPPs on the “top-up” list. In his case, the PCs’ Mississauga—Lakeshore riding association shows a line item for $2,742 in MPP Expenses in 2019 and 2,889.99 in 2020.
In those years, per the Sunshine List, Cuzzetto had salaries of $125,115 (2019) and $133,217 (’20).
In the report from Global News, the Ontario PC Party noted that the expenses would have been reviewed by the riding association and approved by Elections Ontario. The news outlet said it did not gets answers to questions about the ethical nature of the expenses, and also noted it checked Elections Ontario data for all 124 MPPs.
The Ontario Sunshine List was created in the 1990s by another PC Party premier, Mike Harris. It requires publication of all government salaries of at least $100,000, although that figure has not changed in over 25 years.
The Mississauga East—Cooksville race is a rematch between the PCs’ Rasheed and Liberal challenger Diplika Damerla, a former provincial cabinet minister. The latter has been a Mississauga city councillor since being unseated as an MPP in June 2018.
Rasheed took that race by nearly 11 full points, getting 41.15 per cent to Damerla’s 30.23.