STEPHEN HARPER (Canadian Prime Minister): We've already taken steps to
limit the growth of our health care spending over that period. We must
do the same for our retirement income system.
|CRAIG OLIVER: So the prime minister was in a neutral country,
Switzerland, when he drew the battle lines in Canada. And we're here to
talk about that with Peter Julian, the NDP's finance critic who's in
Vancouver; Ralph Goodale, former Liberal finance minister who's in
Regina, of course; and Shelly Glover, parliamentary secretary to the
finance minister who's in Winnipeg, my old hometown, one of my many old
home towns. Miss Glover, let me go to you first, do you think it was
wise to appear to be targetting the elderly by raising concerns about
old age security and changes as your first target?
|SHELLY GLOVER (Conservative – MB): Well first and foremost, Craig, that
is not what happened. In fact while in Davos, our prime minister and our
minister of finance were very much seen as leaders to most of the other
world leaders, and the prime minister set out very clearly some general
parameters to ensure that we are going to sustain this country for many,
many years to come. He wants to look at long-term prosperity because he
wants to make sure that income security for seniors is preserved for
many, many generations. So unfortunately there's been a number of
reports that were very inaccurate and highly inflammatory, but we are
going to maintain senior's income security and we are going to take care
of this country's long-term prosperity and sustainability.
|OLIVER: You're going to maintain income security. Does that mean
there's no intention whatsoever to extend the old age security system
from 65 to 67 for eligibility? None whatsoever?
|GLOVER: There are no changes that are going to be occurring with our
seniors with regards to OAS at this point. We are reviewing anything
that might affect long-term prosperity of these very important benefits
to our seniors. And to not do that is irresponsible frankly. And for the
NDP and the Liberals to simply continue to say we should spend more,
have higher taxes, that's what's going to hurt our seniors, and to not
take care of business for the long-term, again, is another chance that
we are not willing to take, and we're going to focus on jobs and the
economy. The other two parties are focused on leadership and securing
their jobs. We're going to continue to focus on jobs and security for
|OLIVER: Mr. Julian, I don't think it was the media that raised the
question of pensions in Davos. Maybe I'm wrong. Do you hear a shift there?
|PETER JULIAN (NDP – BC): Well, no, what's very clearly happened is
there's a slap in the face to Canadian seniors that Mr. Harper had a in
his speech in Davos. He said he's going to do the same thing to pensions
that he did to health care, and we know what we're seeing there is over
a longer period of time expensive cuts. I was in my riding over the last
couple of days. I've been hearing back from seniors. They see it as a
slap in the face. They see it as a real concern. And so tomorrow we'll
be meeting, national leader Nycole Turmel and myself will be meeting
with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. We'll be talking about
what all this means. It's very clear that this is bad news for Canadian
seniors. And I think what people find most irresponsible about all this
is that Mr. Harper has had absolutely no moderation around wanting to
spend these billions of dollars on his prison programs, and buying the
F-35 fighter jets despite the fact the cost has tripled. He seems to be
saying to Canadian seniors you're going to have to pay the price for our
|OLIVER: Mr. Goodale, you were the minister as finance minister in
charge of old age security. Do you believe that the system is in danger
of bankruptcy, that it's unsustainable is the word the government used
as Canadians get older?
|RALPH GOODALE (Liberal – SK): Well you always have to manage the system
very carefully. But what the government is saying, that if they don't
somehow cut back on OAS, and bear in mind this is a program that doesn't
benefit the wealthier Canadians, this is for middle and low income
Canadians, so the, the attack here is directly on the most vulnerable in
our society. If they were to move the age from 65 to 67, that could take
up to $30,000 away from the lowest income senior citizens in our
country. It's just a bizarre attack on middle and lower income
Canadians. And, Craig, if you look at the cost of OAS today, it takes
about 2.4 percent of GDP to pay for it. If you add in all of the
baby-boomers that are going to retire between now and the year 2031,
that cost only goes up marginally from 2.4 percent to 3.1 percent. So
you have to manage it carefully.
|GOODALE: But this is not a threat to the fiscal framework.
|OLIVER: Okay, Miss Glover, I think I heard you there yelping.
|GLOVER: I'm a bit in shock, to be frank with you, Craig. I mean Ralph
Goodale was the finance minister. I'm glad he's frankly not the finance
minister now because we're talking in dollars, he's minimizing in
percentages, which is misleading, because in dollar value right now $36
billion is spent on OAS. And in 2030 it will be up to $108 billion.
That's an increase of $72 billion that he says is marginal. I'm sorry,
but right now we spent 13 cents on every dollar to go towards support
for the elderly. Peter Julian is saying that we're spending too much on
prisons. We spend 3 cents per dollar on our public safety system,
including police, corrections, our prison systems, and our border
security. So I'm sorry, but these two fellows need to do their homework
and read some of the reports that are out there because they're way off
base. We're going to do what's necessary to protect the economy and
|OLIVER: Mr. Julian...
|GOODALE: Craig, there you have it.
|OLIVER: Go ahead, Ralph.
|GOODALE: Craig, Shelly has just confirmed the suspicion. This is an
attack on seniors.
|GLOVER: Oh hogwash.
|GOODALE: They've been trying to soften it in the last couple of days,
but the fact of the matter is, and you've just heard it from Shelly
Glover that they are going to take a swath out of the OAS.
|GLOVER: No, we're going to preserve it and sustain it.
|GOODALE: And that is attacking the most vulnerable people in our
society, and that is improper and it's not necessary for fiscal reasons.
|OLIVER: Mr. Julian, just to make this clear, does the NDP think there's
any need to be cutting pensions of any kind because of the demographics
of Canadians threatening the pension system?
|JULIAN: Well what we've been saying all along, Craig, is that what we
need to do is make sure we have a very sound foundation, particularly
for CPP. We've been talked about increased contributions. We think that
is the way to go. Most provinces agree with it, most organizations
across the country as well. What you need to do is have a sound basis
for CPP. And what that does as well of course is relieve some of the
pressure on OAS. So what we need to do, we've been putting this forward
for years. I think that's part of the reason why the numbers of NDP MPs
continue to increase in the House of Commons is that the Canadian
seniors are well aware we need a sound foundation for our pension
security, and for our pension system. What we're seeing from the
Conservatives is an absolutely irresponsible attack on Canadian seniors,
particularly middle income and low income Canadian seniors. And what
they're doing is in the same time as we've seen the context of tens of
billions of dollars thrown away on the prisons, on the F-35s, and as
well on corporate tax cuts, it just does not make sense to seniors, and
a lot of Canadian seniors who voted Conservatives are opposed to this.
|OLIVER: Miss Glover, I think you're shaking your head there.
|GLOVER: Well the reason I shake my head, Craig, is because we have a
number of low income seniors and middle income seniors who are being
frightened by what the NDP and the Liberals are doing by speculating and
enflaming this very, very, very sensitive issue when the prime
minister's been very clear no changes will occur. There are going to be
no changes presently to the benefits. We are looking long term at the
sustainability, which means we haven't decided to do anything. But we
need to look at it very clearly so that we can protect it and have it
for many generations to come. And it's unfortunate that they're scaring
seniors, and it's despicable as far as I'm concerned and really
|OLIVER: Folks, got to go. I appreciate you all joining us in talking
about this because I think it's scared a lot of people. But Miss Glover
had a chance to...
|GOODALE: Yeah, especially women, Craig, especially women.
|OLIVER: Okay. Miss Glover...
|OLIVER: ...sounded like she was shifting ground just a little, but
thank you very much all. Bye for now.