Time for Harper to look within party ranks for MP pension reform
Published Friday, March 2, 2012 9:17AM EST
Last Updated Friday, June 8, 2012 6:20PM EDT
My all-time favorite political memory was watching Alberta Premier Ralph Klein being confronted by a young taxfighter named Jason Kenney outside the legislature cafeteria in the early 1990s.
Kenney demanded Klein eliminate the platinum-plated MLA pension plan. A furious Klein tried his feeble best to counterpunch, but it was a lost fight from the start for a premier on the verge of cutting deep in government spending.
The next day Klein waved the white flag. He eliminated the MLA pension plan entirely and told his caucus to accept it or quit. Jason Kenney, by the way, is now entitled to an even more lavish pension plan as a federal cabinet minister.
That’s the one, if not only, lesson Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to have learned from the charismatic people’s premier.
Harper cautioned his MPs Wednesday to brace for reductions in their pension plan and cuts in office budgets.
Good for him. It must be done if Harper has any hope of selling an austerity program to nervous public servants and the general public.
But it should go far beyond a token public relations gesture.
Granted, politics is an easily-terminated occupation which justifies a financial safety net. But it’s also a selfless act of public service, not a career, where money is a secondary reward.
If Harper needs inspiration for downgrading or eliminating the MP pension plan, he has trailblazers in his own cabinet. Treasury Board President Tony Clement killed the Ontario pension for MPPs. And then there’s the same Jason Kenney who browbeat Klein into pension submission in Alberta.
Now is the time to retire Canada’s richest pension plan.
It’s the fiscally prudent thing to do. It’s the Conservative thing to do. It’s the popular thing to do. And, bonus, it’s the right thing to do.
That’s the Last Word.