The group says the 70-year-old Zimmer, appointed by former prime minister Paul Martin in 2005, will collect an annual pension of $31,601, indexed for inflation. The law states that after the death of an MP or senator, the surviving spouse continues to collect 60 per cent of their pension, the taxpayer watchdog says.
Zimmer, who resigned this week amid health concerns, married aspiring actress Sensenberger in 2011.
"Sensenberger and Zimmer were only married for a quarter of his Senate term, entitling her to 15 per cent of his total pension," wrote Nick Bergamini in a blog post on Wednesday.
But it was likely Bergamini’s hypothetical number-crunching that really got tongues wagging.
"Assuming Zimmer lives until age 90 — the average life expectancy of pension plan members — Sensenberger will begin to collect a pension in 2033, at 44 years old," he wrote. "Indexed to inflation, she would collect $532,568, assuming she also lives to age 90. In the event that she were to begin collecting immediately, she would collect $644,000 by the time she reaches age 90 in 2079."
Spokesman Greg Thomas told QMI Agency the scenario should prompt the Parliamentary Pension Act to be renamed "Maygan’s Law."
The taxpayers federation has long been critical of MP and senator pensions. A 2012 report shed some light on how much former politicians and "survivors" are collecting.
According to the 2010 Report on the Administration of the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act, there were 663 former Members, Senators, survivors and dependents collecting pensions in that year. Of the pensions currently being paid out, former Senators collect an average of $56,512 annually while former MPs collect $53,586 annually. Twenty former Senators and 97 former MPs collect in excess of $70,000 annually.
Andy Radia of Yahoo! Canada News was quick to point out on Wednesday that three of Canada’s most controversial senators will also be in a position to collect in the not-too-distant future.
"Maligned Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin just have to hang in there until January 2015 for them — or their spouses (if applicable) — to be eligible for their pensions," he wrote. "It’s nice work if you can get it."
In July, the federation launched its campaign for a referendum on the fate of Canada’s upper chamber by hoisting a two-and-a-half-storey blow-up doll of Duffy by the shores of the Ottawa river.
"We believe that every Canadian voter should decide the future of the Canadian Senate — not politicians, not judges and certainly not the unelected senators themselves," Thomas told reporters.
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