MPPs Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley.
Credits: London Free Press/QMI AGENCY
Liberal rats are jumping ship at record rates.
How much is it costing taxpayers?
A cool $248,776 per rat.
And it will cost us a whopping $313,461 to say goodbye to the chief rat.
Yep, when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced he was quitting, he not only shut up Parliament when he prorogued it, he triggered a round of high-level cabinet resignations that have so far cost us more than $800,000.
Whether they quit, are defeated or retire, under the province's cushy severance rules, after eight years of service politicians are entitled to 18 months of severance pay -- at their best consecutive 36 months' salary.
That means McGuinty will get $313,461.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Energy Minister Chris Bentley have also announced they won't be running again. They each stand to take home $248,776 as they leave -- not bad when you consider they'll quickly be offered fat-cat jobs.
How is that an example for them to set in these tough economic times?
So much for them telling the public-sector unions to hold the line on pay and benefits.
And in a bizarre twist, Sandra Pupatello, who's tipped as a frontrunner to become the next Liberal leader -- and therefore the next premier - will have to decide what to do about the severance she took from the province when she quit last year.
She wouldn't tell me exactly how much her payout was, but she would have been eligible for the full amount -- around $240,000.
I asked her if she'd pay that money back if she returned to the legislature.
"I hadn't thought about that," she confessed in a telephone interview Tuesday.
"Now I'm thinking about it and I think I will probably do the right thing," she said.
"Even if I win the leadership, I still don't have a seat," she pointed out.
She's not independently wealthy, so she needs a job to pay the bills.
"I do have to work, so it depends what the pay is if you're not a sitting member.
Is there pay?" she asked.
Hmm. Good question. Perhaps she should ask John Tory.
Pupatello says she's still mulling a run at the leadership, and her husband is supportive.
So, bad enough that the Liberals have silenced their critics in the middle of a mounting scandal over the cost of moving two power plants.
Now we find out the true cost of shovelling them out the door.
Turns out Liberals view government as an all-you-can eat buffet.
First course was a $1-billion eHealth scandal. Main course was the cancellation of two gas-powered electricity generating plants -- at an estimated overall cost of anywhere up to $1 billion.
Dessert was the Ornge air ambulance scandal.
Now the Liberals are in utter disarray.
Usually when a sitting premier steps down, his successors are salivating at the chance to jump in.
Not this group. The biggest announcements so far are the people who aren't running.
Cabinet ministers can't run fast enough -- in the opposite direction -- away from their disastrous record of mismanagement and scandal.
They know whoever does take McGuinty's job will likely wear many of his scandals -- and could well break the record for the premier who served the province for the shortest length of time.
At a time when the economy is in the toilet, when we most need a firm hand at the helm, we have a chaotic mess.
Taxpayers are left with well-fed rats jumping ship.
And a Mickey Mouse government that's lost its way.