Stories of the Week
1. The Harper government has made noise about pension reform, prompting a round of howls from the opposition benches about Harper throwing grannies out on the street. I'll reserve judgment until I see the final plans, but I'll give Harper some credit for tackling such a politically charged issue. At the recent Liberal convention, the party made a big deal about "fact based policies" and the fact is Canada has an aging population, so it's foolish to pretend the existing system is perfect and doesn't need to be reformed.
And now is the perfect time for the Harper government to make these reforms. This will be their first majority government budget, and it comes at a time when neither opposition party has a permanent leader in place. The Conservatives don't have to worry about an irate electorate for another three years, so why not make some tough decisions now? After all, they can always buy voters off with a nice tax cut in 2015.
Moreover, I'm not even positive the public opinion backlash would be as devastating as some predict. Sure, you ask people if Seniors should get old-age security benefits at 65 or 67 and OF COURSE they'll say 65. Any poll which asks "do you want more or less" is going to break at least 3:1 in favour of "more". The real question is what kind of backlash this move would lead to?
So what if the changes are grandfathered in so they don't affect anyone over 50, and what if they're announced along with plans to scale back MP pensions ("we're all making sacrifices")? Suddenly, I'm not so convinced this would be the PR nightmare everyone is predicting.
2. Jim Flaherty’s budget will also be Tony Clement’s: So get ready for a gazebo tax credit program...
3. Speaking of tough medicine budgets, it sounds like Dwight Duncan's budget will also be Don Drummond's. Drummond's much-anticipated report is rumoured to be released on February 15th, laying the ground for the Ontario budget.
4. The 2011 fundraising numbers are out, and the Tories are still well ahead of the competition.
5. Also released are the NDP leadership fundraising numbers, which show just 3% of NDP members have donated to a campaign.