No more Freedom 55 pensions: MPs finally do the right thing
MPs rise in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012.
Published Friday, October 19, 2012 6:02PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 19, 2012 6:05PM EDT
Entire forests have been razed to produce the newsprint devoted to denouncing the MP pension plan.
You know the story.
They contribute a pittance. They pocket a windfall. And they qualify for a fully indexed government-backed pension payment at age 55 after just six years of service.
The average Canadian employee struggling toward an uncertain pension upon retirement after 40 years on the job could only grind their teeth as they filled out their tax returns.
Reform Party MPs breezed into Ottawa almost 20 years ago, including a rookie named Stephen Harper, vowing to kill it and never accept an MP pension. Within a few years they not only accepted the pension, but bought back years of pensionable earnings to increase the feathering of their retirement nest.
It was the ultimate sense of entitlement as MPs sacrificed their principles to a self-interest.
This week, the Conservatives redeemed themselves and, by extension, all federal politicians now and in the future.
MPs will cough up a lot more to qualify for a full pension 10 years later than under the current Freedom 55 scheme.
It's still an extremely generous plan that will never fail so long as there are taxpayers to backstop it, but it's a lot closer to the average Canadian's retirement plan.
Too often those of us in the media zero in on governments when they do the wrong thing for political reasons.
In this case, albeit a few decades late, MPs will go against their personal interests to do the right thing. And splitting it from the omnibus budget bill gives it even more stand-alone legitimacy.
MPs who don't like the changes have been given an escape clause. If they don't run again in 2015, they can still claim the outrageously generous pension at age 55.
But being an MP is, lest they forget, a public service. If the quest for a government-backed platinum pension plan was part of the calculation for seeking office, we're better off without them.