Sources have told CTV News that MPs told Harper during a Conservative caucus meeting Wednesday that reforming pensions “is not a vote winner” and complained they were taken by surprise by the plan.
The government has since toned down their language from the “transformative” changes that Harper spoke about in Davos. “It’s a review . . . to make sure we have a sustainable, long-term fiscal plan for our country,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told CTV. He also said that the upcoming federal budget will have nothing to do with OAS.
Update 9:52am. A note from the Finance Minister’s office.
During his interview with CTV, the Minister was clear that this [has] ‘nothing to do with the budget for this year in terms of balancing the books’; however, the Government has been clear that prudent, long term reforms necessary to ensure sustainability of our retirement income system are under examination.
From the interview:
JIM FLAHERTY: Well, that’s nonsense, of course. Nothing for this year is nothing to do with the budget for this year in terms of balancing the books in the medium term. As has been made clear, no one receiving these benefits now would be affected by any of the review that we are doing, and it is just that: it is a review, being sensible, looking forward to make sure that we have a sustainable, long-term fiscal plan for our country.
The full CTV interview with Mr. Flaherty is here. The minister’s comments come near the end of that clip when the host asks him about the NDP’s suggestion that the Harper government is planning to balance the budget “on the backs” of seniors.