This week, Joe Oliver -- acting on orders from the boss -- wrote a letter to Kathleen Wynne, informing her that the Harper government would offer absolutely no help in setting up the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. Martin Regg Cohen writes:
The toxic letter to Ontario penned this week by Harper’s henchman, Joe Oliver — Flaherty’s successor as finance minister, and the MP so cavalierly misrepresenting Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence riding — sets a new low for shabby politics and shoddy public policy ahead of an October federal election.
“The Ontario Government’s proposed ORPP would take money from workers and their families, kill jobs, and damage the economy,” Oliver writes with fatuous hyperbole in the undated letter leaked to the media before it was even transmitted to Queen’s Park.Rather than presenting substantive arguments or serious research, his letter quotes shamelessly from the small business lobby that speaks only for vested interests, not public interests, and makes wild claims about economic impacts — scenarios contradicted by the federal government’s own internal research, which the Tories have distorted in the past.“For these reasons, we will not assist the Ontario Government in the implementation of the ORPP,” the letter concludes acidly. “This includes any legislative changes to allow the ORPP to be treated like the Canada Pension Plan for tax purposes,” notably RRSP contribution limits.
Astonishingly, the Harper government will refuse to collect pension deductions on Ontario’s behalf or provide any information to assist the plan — services for which it would have been fairly compensated by the province. In short, it’s not merely a hands-off attitude but a hands-to-the throat approach.
Wynne received a strong mandate to set up the plan in the last provincial election. Harper clearly has chosen to ignore that mandate, just as he chose to ignore the premiers at this week's Council of the Confederation. Harper simply ignores those he disagrees with -- premiers, environmentalists, nations that try to reach a deal to contain Iran's nuclear program.
Ontario will now turn to Quebec -- which has had a stand alone pension plan since the mid sixties -- for advice on how to proceed. In the upcoming election, the voters of Ontario will not ignore what Mr. Harper has done.
The problem with ignoring people is that they simply pass you by and let you stew in your own irrelevance. If Mr. Harper had lived in the days of Noah, he would have refused to see any signs of rain -- until it was too late.