02/03/2015 01:32 EST | Updated 04/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Liam Martin, Greg Selinger's Ex-Chief Of Staff, Gets $146,047 Severance

WINNIPEG - Manitoba taxpayers gave Premier Greg Selinger's former chief of staff $146,047 in severance pay when he parted ways with the government last November, documents obtained by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives show.

Liam Martin had been on the job for about 2 1/2 years when he left. He was one of many political staff who departed after a caucus revolt erupted, and the Tories questioned how many other severance packages are being paid out as a result of the NDP government's infighting.

"There's no question there is going to be an additional cost because of the (NDP) family feud and we know who's going to pay for it. It's not going to be the NDP. It's going to be the taxpayers," Tory house leader Kelvin Goertzen said.

A half-dozen of the premier's political advisers have either left permanently, taken leaves of absence or booked unused vacation time since Selinger's leadership was challenged by a handful of cabinet ministers and senior party officials last fall.

Some of those advisers are working on the leadership campaign of rival Theresa Oswald, who will face Selinger and Steve Ashton in a leadership vote March 8.

The Tories obtained Martin's severance pay under the province's freedom-of-information law and called on the government to release a full list of severance packages for senior staff.

Goertzen also pointed to Selinger's hiring not only of a replacement for Martin, but also of two new advisers who have been seconded from unions — principal secretary Heather Grant-Jury and deputy principal secretary Paul McKie.

"These are additional costs," he said.

The premier's office said Martin's severance package was not out of the ordinary.

"It is not unusual for political staff to change. These are demanding jobs. Severance is part of the terms of employment for political staff," said McKie, who is also Selinger's spokesman, wrote in an email.

"Employees also take vacation and leaves throughout the year. We respect the privacy of all of our employees, past and present, as well as their right to participate in the democratic process," he wrote in reference to some staff who are working on Oswald's campaign.

As for Martin's severance, it appears to be in line with a common formula used by government for senior staff — one year's pay plus unused vacation time and overtime.

Martin's severance pay is slightly above the $132,000 salary he earned when he was first hired in 2012. His predecessor, Michael Balagus, earned $159,000 a year and received severance pay of $180,000 when he left.

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