The Harper government is willing to spend money -- on prisons and F35 jets. The simple truth is that it's not willing to spend money on pensions. Therefore, its "improvement" to the pension system is to be voluntary and administered by private financial interests.
For Stephen Harper, a strong public pension system is symptomatic of "a welfare state in the worst sense." That's why he and his party have once again chosen to ignore expert opinion. The Globe and Mail reports that
research prepared at Ottawa’s request argues Canada’s pension system is in far better shape than the Europeans’, and there’s no need to raise the retirement age. Edward Whitehouse – who researches pension policy on behalf of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank – was asked by Ottawa to study and report on how Canada stacks up internationally when it comes to pensions.
Ignoring expert opinion is nothing new for these folks. They have pushed ahead with their "tough on crime agenda," despite evidence and advice that their agenda is counterproductive. But that agenda feeds the party base; and cutting public pensions feeds the upper echelons of that base.
Thomas Klassan -- a political science professor from York University, who has studied the Canadian pension system -- says:
reducing OAS costs is an easy way to save money over the long term because it can be done unilaterally without negotiating with the provinces or public-sector unions. “It’s okay to look at Old Age Security pension payments,” he said, “but I think there’s got to be a lot more evidence that there’s a problem, and I don’t see that evidence.”
However, the Harper government has never acted on evidence. Earlier this week, I referred to an article by Richard Cohen on the sad state of the Republican Party. The party, he wrote, has adopted a policy of "belligerent anti-intellectualism, pretending that knowledge and experience do not matter."
The Republican disease has spread north of the border.