Monday, March 24, 2014

Wynne Harpoons Harper on Pension Reforms?

The Canadian Press reports, Kathleen Wynne takes aim at Harper over pension reform:
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is putting Prime Minister Stephen Harper in her crosshairs as she girds for a possible spring election.

Addressing the party faithful in Toronto, she says his opposition to pension reform is somewhere between "offensive and inexplicable."

Wynne clashed with Ottawa last year over its refusal to boost the Canada Pension Plan, and has said she will introduce plans for a new, separate pension plan for Ontarians this year.

"It is somewhere between offensive and inexplicable to ask the people who worked hard all their lives to be rewarded with retirement that takes them out of the middle class," Wynne told the crowd. "That might be Stephen Harper’s way, but it is not our way. It is not the Liberal way.”

But Wynne also took a page from Harper's election playbook, painting her provincial Liberals as the safe, steady alternative to the reckless Tories and New Democrats.

The Progressive Conservatives want “a war on labour,” Wynne said, while the NDP “believes that business is the enemy.”

“Neither has a plan to move forward. Neither shares our laser focus on helping working families.”

Well-funded public transit, keeping Ontario's hospitals public and protecting the Great Lakes could make it into the Liberals' next election platform.

Party officials say one of those policy ideas — which were selected from suggestions from thousands of party and non-party members — will be in the document.

It's likely public transit will factor prominently, as Wynne has been talking for months about dedicated funding for a major transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

And an election could be around the corner if the minority Liberals fail to pass their spring budget, whose date hasn't been announced yet.

Delegates at the party's annual general meeting in Toronto are already getting ready with training sessions designed to prepare them for the next campaign.

"What Leadership Is" is the other slogan the party is using to brand Wynne, who was sworn in as premier just over a year ago, but has plenty of experience having spent years at the cabinet table.

But the opposition parties say those so-called Liberal "safe hands" cancelled two unpopular gas plants at a cost of up to $1 billion and are driving up energy rates.

There are also two criminal investigations underway, including one into the suspicious business activities of Ornge, the province's air ambulance service.

The Liberals are driving out businesses with high taxes and energy rates and catering to unions at the taxpayers' expense, the Tories said.
In my humble opinion, Kathleen Wynne is Canada's best politician. She gets it and it's too bad she and her Minister of Finance didn't show up to the HOOPP conference on DB pensions last week because I would have told them to continue sticking it to the feds.

Luckily for all Canadians, the Harper Conservatives are on their way out. Their days are numbered and they know it, which is another reason why I wasn't surprised our federal finance minister resigned last week. I personally believe Jim Flaherty was an outstanding finance minister but he had enough of Harper and he knows dark days are ahead for the Canadian economy (keep shorting the loonie!!).

Interestingly, I was reading an article in the Montreal Gazette over the weekend on how the Caisse's Ivanhoe Cambridge and Ontario Teachers' Cadillac Fairview Corp. will spend $3 billion to revamp Montreal's downtown core. God knows our city needs it but I'm not sure the jobs will be there to finance all these renovations. The Caisse and PSP should talk to their brokers to set up offices here and hire more finance and economics students who are forced to leave this province.

Taking the train into Toronto, I met a nice young lady whose husband is a chef. He works in Montreal, she works in Toronto and commutes every weekend. We were talking about how dumb Torontonians are for electing Mayor Ford (Duh!), how the PQ has to go (my fingers and toes are crossed!), how relatively poor Quebec is compared to Ontario and how expensive housing is in Toronto. Pulling into Union Station in Toronto, you can see and feel the money. It' a mini Manhattan.

Of course, I would never live in Toronto. I hate commuting, detest the Maple Leafs and Toronto lacks Montreal's charm and French influence which is why I love our city. Also, there are no good bloody restaurants in Toronto. Brokers on Bay Street love going to Earls but it's a meat market full of hopelessly horny brokers gawking at ladies.

Luckily this young lady I met on the train recommended I dine at Canoe, which isn't cheap but it's excellent. Heather Cooke of Unigestion recommended I try BUCA and Beast next time I'm in TO.  I wish somebody could explain to me why Toronto still lacks a great Greek restaurant like Milos or awesome steakhouse like the Rib 'N Reef. And Toronto has nothing that remotely compares to Marven's in the Danforth area. Dining out in TO is truly pathetic.

As far as transportation, I can't wait till they finish the construction around Union Station. I typically take the train into Toronto and walk across the street to the Fairmount Royal York, my favorite hotel in Toronto (although I hear the Shangri-La is very nice too). The construction in that area is wreaking havoc on traffic and really pissed me off (they were suppose to be done a year ago!).

Something else that pissed me off? The entrance across Union Station at the Royal York isn't accessible to people with mobility issues or elderly people. You have lug your luggage up these stairs and the railing in the middle is covered with stupid flowers (get rid of them!). I explained this to the hotel's managers and they were kind enough to reply and send my complaint to the owners (can't have a luxury hotel in downtown Toronto with no escalator at the entrance, it's ridiculous).

What else pissed me off about my trip to Toronto? Well, the press coverage on the HOOPP conference on DB pensions was virtually non-existent (what else is new?) and every time I take the train to TO I keep asking myself how come this rich country of ours still hasn't built high speed trains linking Quebec City to Windsor Ontario?!? It's 2014 and Canada has an antiquated train system, what a frigging joke!

Below, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne shores up the troops. I can only hope the Liberals win a majority government here in Quebec so we can get on to discussing important issues like jobs, healthcare and pensions.

By the way, in case you missed it, Canadian doctor Danielle Martin schooled U.S. Senators a couple of weeks ago on the benefits of our healthcare system. She spoke at the American Congressional hearing about single-payer health care. I don't believe in a two-tier healthcare system and I don't believe in a two-tier pension system either.

I'd like to speak to these Senators on the U.S. public pension problem but we all know I have a better chance of winning the Lotto Max. Americans don't like to be schooled on anything, especially healthcare or pensions. Maybe they should listen to the Oracle of Omaha.