The Reform Party, Pensions for MPs, and the murder of the milk quota

June 24, 2015

The spectre of Stephen Harper standing alone on a sinking ship hoves increasingly into view as high-profile cabinet members take their leave in advance of the October 15 federal election.

It’s ironic that the Harper Regime is now forced by a decimated front bench to rely upon the dubious skills and charisma of Paul Calandra and Pierre Poilievre.  The cause likely dates back to the old Reform Party resolution to get rid of MP pensions.

Remember how all Reform MPs pledged not to accept their pensions when they were first elected, but how all found it in their consciences to retire on them?

Harper’s changes to the Federal MP pension plan to take effect in 2015 may well have torpedoed his re-election chances.

Incumbent MPs may not all be financial wizards (take the NDP examples currently in circulation for instance) but having to wait an additional ten years for a full pension amounts to at least $600,000 lost dollars.  During that time increased personal pension contributions would amount to another $390,000 lost.  Perhaps the clincher is the elimination of the sweetener:  for every dollar a current MP puts into his or her pension plan, the people of Canada currently contribute $6.50.  That drops to a 1:1 ratio and an annual contribution rate of about $39,000, up from $11,000.  A pay cut of $28,000 is hardly good for one’s desire to serve the people of Canada.

Combine the pay cut with the financial hit which would accompany another term in office with its sharply increased cost of getting elected in the long upcoming campaign, with the experience of colleague Dean del Mastro facing incarceration for some of the electoral sleights-of-hand which produce an electoral victory, and it’s not hard to see why so many of the most electable members of Harper’s caucus have opted for retirement.

I have said for years that if Stephen Harper can’t win he will tear the Conservative Party down before he leaves, but I never would have suspected that the mechanism for the implosion would be as simple as a small revision in the MP’s pension plan.

UPDATE:  25 June, 2015

The news of Harper’s failure to protect Canadian milk and poultry quotas in the upcoming Trans Pacific Trade Agreement tore another major rift in the  the Conservative base last night.  Steve is definitely razzing the Tory clubhouse down on his way out with this walk away from the safe seats of Eastern Ontario and rural Quebec where the dairy industry is king.

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