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Harper’s hypocrisy on OAS

Government spending goes unchecked while benefits stripped away from tomorrow's seniors

Well, the cat is out of the bag, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent statement to consider changes to the Old Age Security system.

Since Harper’s initial announcement, to have the government consider extending the retirement date to 67, I have watched heated debate in the House of Commons and read much in the press. The Toronto Star quotes Liberal MP Judy Sgro’s taunts in Parliament: “They have caviar tastes when it comes to jets and jails, but a baloney budget when it comes to seniors.”

The Star goes on to quote parliamentary budget officer watchdog Kevin Page’s report, which, he says, has shredded the government’s credibility on this issue. After analyzing the numbers, Page concluded that the crisis is a manufactured one. “You cannot argue the government has a fiscal sustainability problem,” he says.

To add more on this issue (of robbing seniors and almost-seniors), the Globe and Mail reported on the spending habits of Harper’s top bureaucrats. While I scrape and save my meager pension dollars so I can fly and visit my son and granddaughter who live in Mexico, and who I have not seen since 2005, the Globe and Mail states that “Rennie Marcoux, assistant secretary to cabinet, spent $6,855 (of taxpayers dollars) to fly to London, to attend a week-long “cyber” conference last October. The clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters, paid almost as much for a round-trip flight to London — $6,625 — for a public-service summit in November.”

Unfortunately, this list is too long to list here, and actually gets worse. All of which contradict the fact that we live in a world of high competition for international flights. I believe these prices that we, the taxpayers, have paid (during Harper’s so-called times of fiscal restraint) are an insult to the intelligence of Canadians and an unnecessary drain on the Canadian economy.

Approximately 60 per cent of Canadians did not vote for a Conservative Party of Canada candidate in last year’s federal election. I count myself in that 60 per cent. However, with our “first-past-the-post” electoral system, we now have a “majority” government that was not elected by the majority of Canadians. My only option is to oppose such draconian measures put forward by Harper, to call for realistic and transparent government spending, and to trust in the intelligence of Canadians to do likewise.

Brigid Kemp





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