Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised the spectre of reduced retirement income for Canadians last week as a way of controlling his government’s expenses.
While he has since clarified his comments by saying Old Age Security would not be reduced, he maintains that the federal government must look at every possible place to “ensure vital programs are sustainable in the long-term and for future generations.”
The PM’s need to clarify his previous statements shows the feds aren’t above listening to the public on matters of such grave importance.
We also shouldn’t be surprised to hear such statements coming from Harper and his party, now that they enjoy a solid majority government.
Still early in his mandate, the PM appears ready to take risks on such decisions as increasing spending on prisons when the crime rate is falling, while holding the line at best on spending for seniors.
We don’t doubt that Harper is keen to place his stamp on history in some way. It’s rather tough for him and his government to take credit for the relatively stable state of the Canadian economy, with so many other factors affecting it.
The surest way to leave a mark, then, is through reforming legislation that affects a large percentage of the population.
Previous majorities have yielded such game-changers as same-sex marriage legislation, the sending of Canadian soldiers and sailors to war in Afghanistan, the Clarity Act relating to possible Quebec secession, the North American Free Trade Agreement, Meech Lake and the new Charter of Rights, to name a handful.
In tough times, bold measures can be taken and consequences accepted, or small steps can be taken to avoid rocking the boat too much. Whether Harper’s Conservatives choose the former or latter, time will tell. But we shouldn’t be surprised to see this majority government take aggressive steps rather than delicate ones.