MP pensions, gold plate to copper
Oct 19, 2012 / 11:09 am
Opposition parties claimed victory on Friday after persuading the Conservatives to accept a proposal to take MP pension reforms out of the massive omnibus budget bill.
Speedy negotiations saw the changes plucked from the bill and unanimously passed through the House of Commons Friday morning without any further study.
It was a rare about-face for the Conservatives, who earlier this year refused outright to carve out any of the changes included in their first budget implementation bill, which amended dozens of laws.
On Thursday, the Liberals tried anew, promising to swiftly pass changes to the MP pension program if they were taken out of this omnibus bill.
The prime minister said he would take the idea under advisement and by Friday morning, the changes were made.
"As we have long said, the Liberal party agrees unequivocally that MP pensions must be reformed in order to save Canadians' tax dollars," Leader Bob Rae said in a statement.
"It is unfortunate that we had to force the government to do the right thing on this issue, but we are satisfied that we were able to bring about these changes without delay."
While the speedy passage of reforms to the lucrative pension plan makes for good politics for all parties, it opens a new line of attack for the opposition.
Why is it OK to separate one section, but not others?
The opposition argues that those sections which make major changes to various facets of Canadian life need more study than will be afforded if they are all bundled into one bill.
"Apparently, splitting the bill is possible after all," NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said.
The alterations to the MP program will sharply increase the contributions MPs must make to their pensions and require them to wait until age 65 to collect.
Contributions which now run about $11,000 a year will rise to about $39,000.
Under the old system, MPs could start collecting a pension at age 55.
The changes could provide incentive for an exodus from politics, since key provisions won't take effect until after the next election in 2015.
So those MPs who have served the minimum six years required to collect a pension could exit public life that year and still access the old plan.
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