OTTAWA — The mute button continues to wreak havoc in our pandemic world, and Monday’s self-own of the day belongs to a Liberal cabinet minister.
Maryam Monsef, minister for women and gender equality and for rural economic development, left her microphone on during a vote on an NDP motion Monday, calling for a tax on Canadians with fortunes over $20 million and corporations “that have been profiteering from the pandemic.”
Monsef voted virtually and against the motion. But then her voice popped up unexpectedly after Conservative, Bloc Québécois, NDP, and Green MPs had their turns to vote, interjecting as Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould’s name was called.
“The question they’re gonna ask me—how much do I make now? Like 250?”
Watch Monsef’s hot mic incident below:
MPs earn a base salary of $182,600 and cabinet ministers earn an additional $87,200. Monsef would be earning $269,800 plus other perks, such as a living allowance while in Ottawa.
Her hot mic left some ministers and MPs giggling in the House of Commons.
Video footage of inside the chamber immediately after Monsef’s comment shows Public Safety Minister Bill Blair laughing, keeling forward at his desk to look at colleagues outside the camera frame.
The comment caused a similar reaction among Conservatives sitting across the aisle.
The minister’s salary is more than four times the median household income in her Ontario riding of Peterborough-Kawartha.
According to the City of Peterborough, median household income there is $58,127.
It’s unclear what prompted Monsef to make the comment.
Monsef’s office did not offer a response before publication.
Hot mics and headaches
Mute fails have become symptomatic of a new era of pandemic-adjusted workflows, as employees and employers embrace more video calling to respect physical distancing guidelines to prevent transmissions of COVID-19.
Since the House of Commons adopted a hybrid in-person and virtual model this spring, chamber sittings and committee meetings have been flecked by moments of mute button-related hijinks.
Don Valley East MP Yasmin Ratansi stepped down from Liberal caucus last week after CBC News revealed she employed her sister in her constituency office for years — a violation of parliamentary rules.
Ratansi reportedly ignored “repeated requests” for comment from CBC News. But before the story was published she was heard talking about her sister after her mute was turned off while she chaired the House’s environment committee.
“Hi, listen, Zeenat is my adopted sister, actually,” the now-independent MP is heard saying off-frame before realizing she could be heard by others, an awareness that caused her to pop back in front of the camera.
Even before the pandemic, a hot mic stirred some trouble for another Liberal: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.