Pension-loving MP -- or maybe a pig

Pension-loving MP -- or maybe a pig

What we know about Stephen Harper...

I expect that many people have forgotten or put to the back recesses of their mind the Reform Party and the indignation they took with the pension plan held by Members of Parliament. It seems it was all a shell game.

The Reformers went to bat for taxpayers to end this injustice, to bring an end to 'gold plated' pensions for the peoples' servants. The vowed never to take such a plan, many vowed never to take a pension from the taxpayers.

As you may recall they did a good job of convincing people in Western Canada the pensions were wrong and symbolic of what was wrong in Ottawa. Deborah Grey, Reform's first Member of Parliament was one of the first to reverse course.

"Reform-turned-Alliance stalwarts such as Deborah Grey and Monte Solberg have taken a public beating recently over their decision to spend more than $50,000 each to buy back into the pension fund they once very publicly eschewed.

Grey, ironically, said it was Manning's recent treatment for prostate cancer that made her reassess her future." - The Canadian Press, 2001
It seems the reformers cum Canadian Alliance members couldn't withstand the heat of their convictions. Ironic isn't it that many of the people that voted for them and supported their position on MP Pensions, could not come up with the $50,000 for an RRSP let alone buy a "gold plated" pension plan.

Monte Solberg who is retiring so he can collect his pension and ride off onto the range confessed to the Medicine Hat News in 2001 that the reformers were perhaps a little overzealous. "To be honest, I think we put on the hairshirt a little bit and probably pushed it too hard."

And who was among the overzealous reformers along the way. Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper. During a short stint as President of the
National Citizens Coalition (NCC), a conservative advocacy group, Harper lead the charge to end these pensions and to disparage those who took advantage of them.

I'm reminded of this today because of a column in the Toronto Sun written by
Harper's former colleague at the NCC, Gerry Nicholls. Nicholls at the time was the Vice President. Nichols writes,

...'during his tenure as NCC president, Harper didn't like the idea that MPs enjoyed a pension plan that was far richer than what most people in the private sector could ever hope to afford.

He called it a "gold-plated MP pension plan."

So to expose and oppose this plan he launched "Operation Pork Chop," an ad campaign featuring cartoon pigs designed to encourage voters to "fire" MPs who were about to qualify for their pension. That's hardly a scary campaign, unless you're a pension-loving MP -- or maybe a pig.'

The July 1995 issue of NCC’s Overview quoted extensively from one of Harper’s speeches in the House on pensions and commented, 'Reform MP Stephen Harper (Calgary West) has been a leading and vocal opponent of the gold-plated MP pension plans ever since the NCC made it an issue.'

So while Stephen Harper has been wearing his sweaters and cuddling up close to toddlers, he seems to enjoy the perks of an elected member of parliament including his future 'gold plated' Pension Plan. It seems that once enough of us vote for him, Harper will do anything he wants even if it means dumping some of the Gold Plated isssues that brought him to the dance.

Monte Solberg is getting out, he can't wait to join Deborah Grey on Wal-Mart's seniors discount day and begin drawing his 'gold plated' pension. Monte Solberg served in Parliament since 1993.

Gerry Nicholls is alive and well I expect somewhere in Saskatchewan. He writes for the Western Standard, a right wing blog that comes out of a failed magazine of the same name.

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