I wrote yesterday that Premier Dalton McGuinty now faces the difficult task of getting Ontarians to accept the notion of shared sacrifice. This morning, Susan Riley reminds her readers of how the system is tilted in exactly the opposite direction. On the subject of the Harper government's plan to "save" the Old Age Security system, she writes:
Maybe they should call their bill Restoring Senior Poverty.
Meanwhile, there is no talk of trimming other pension plans — especially the RRSP, but also the tax-free savings account — that benefit those with ample money to save. Fewer than one-third of Canadians contribute to RRSPs, and a tiny number make the maximum contribution of $22,000 a year. But, by some estimates, RRSP breaks for the richest Canadians cost the treasury $12 billion in 2010.
The issues differ for different levels of government and different parties hold power across the country. But the austerity refrain is the same: protect the rich, hit the middle class and leave the poor for later.
It should be remembered that the financial structure we operate under did not occur by accident. Our politicians have carefully chosen who they will reward. I write as someone who has been able to use that system to fund my wife's and my retirement.
But, given the circumstances we now face -- which, again, did not occur by accident -- I have to ask a simple question: "What is fair?" We shall see how the McGuinty government answers that question. We already know Stephen Harper's answer.
Meanwhile, Riley -- a writer of uncommonly good sense -- reminds us that politicians lead a sheltered life:
Political leaders, and their advisers, live in a sheltered world where seniors golf in Florida all winter, families waste money on snowmobiles instead of saving for their golden years, and people are eager to work past 67 because they have absorbing, well-paid jobs.
They forget — or don’t care — that most Canadians don’t live there.