This past week in Ottawa was a busy one with continued uncertainty surrounding Harper’s plans to change Old Age Security (OAS), a key vote on the Long Gun Registry, and a meeting with my fellow New Democrat MPs from northern Ontario discuss the new riding redistribution scheme that is coming to Ontario in time for the next federal election in 2015.
To say that the Harper government is sending out mixed messages about its plans to reduce, cut, or raise the qualifying age for Old Age Security would be and understatement.
Recall that Harper first slipped his plans to overhaul our retirement income system into a speech to foreign bankers in Switzerland, and then had his staff clarify that the plan would ‘probably’ just involve OAS and not the Canada Pension Plan.
He then said he ‘may’ introduce changes to the program, such as forcing us to work two years longer to collect our payments, when asked to clarify his position.
Clear as mud these guys are.
My New Democrat colleagues and I have decided to not wait for the axe to come down on our retirement savings before moving to protect these cherished programs.
We’ve opposed Harper’s plan to roll the dice with his new pension plan in the stock market, and we want to protect the OAS which only goes to the poorest seniors in Canada.
Instead of Harper’s risky and irresponsible retirement scheme, New Democrats favour increasing both our individual contributions and entitlements for the CPP – which is still the most stable, well funded, and most effective pension plan in the entire world.
If you are interested in learning more about the retirement security issue and New Democrat proposals, we have launched two campaign sites recently – www.ndp.ca/retirement and www.ndp.ca/oas.
Also this past week there was the second to last vote on bill C-19, the bill that will end the Long Gun Registry. On this vote I again supported C-19 and the abolition of the Long Gun Registry. A final vote is now set to occur when the government gets around to having two full days of debate on the final version of the bill.
Following those two days of debate, likely to occur next week, a final vote will be held at ‘Third Reading’ to ensure its passage and send C-19 to the Senate where it will receive Royal Ascent and become law in all likelihood sometime this spring. I for one will be happy to get the final vote out of the way since I believe that there are far more important issues for parliament to focus on – job creation and pension protection to name two.
My New Democrat colleagues from Northern Ontario, all seven of us, also met this past week to review the process by which Elections Canada will eventually redistribute ridings in Ontario before the next election.
Late last year, the Harper government passed a bill that will give Ontario another 13 seats in time for the next federal election.
As a result, Elections Canada will use a complex formula based on regional population patterns and geography to determine where the new seats will be located. While it’s true that most of the population growth in Ontario has occurred in the southern portion of the province northern New Democrat MPs agreed this week to stand together to oppose the loss of seats from our region.
We believe that our northern voice needs to be heard loud and clear in Ottawa and we will not stand idly by if someone tries to diminish it.
And so went the week in Ottawa.
Old Age Security is seemingly still on Harper’s chopping block, while the Long Gun Registry moved another step closer to being abolished, and northern New Democrats vowing to fight for our regions fair representation in Ottawa.
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