Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues in the NDP, my Liberal and Bloc colleagues, and those people who have spoken in favour of the bill over the last six years.
I personally want to thank John Labelle, Roger Boutin and Mel Pittman, three veterans and heroes of our country who raised this issue with me. I was ignorant of the facts. I did not know that this was happening to the heroes of our country.
I analyzed the information. I checked it out. I thoroughly argued it. This legislation has been voted on twice in the House. It has twice been supported by the majority of the House. The Prime Minister said that when a majority of the elected members of Parliament vote for something and it passes, the government should honour that result. The government has reversed its word twice and thus we are here debating the legislation one more time.
I want to make it clear that while it is called a benefit annuity reduction, but if it looks like a clawback, smells like a clawback, tastes like a clawback, I can assure the House that it is a clawback. It is as simple as that.
I would like anyone on the Conservative side to tell me why veteran Leslie Sanders of Trenton, Ontario, would lose $130 a month because he turned 65. His greatest sin was getting a year older. Why would he lose that money?
I am not saying that what the government did in the past was illegal, but it was highly immoral.
Members of the armed forces and the RCMP never had an opportunity to debate the so-called blended system to the stacked system. They were ordered to do this. Many of them did not know what was going to happen. They received what is called the dreaded letter informing them that they would lose a whole whack of money.
What is worse than having a pension clawed back at age 65 is what happens to those who are disabled.
A 52-year-old RCMP officer in my riding is permanently disabled. His superannuation is approximately $3,000 a month. He was told to go on CPP disability which gave him over $800 a month. He agreed because he felt he would be okay. However, he was told that is not how the game is played. He would get his $800 disability payment but it was deducted dollar for dollar from his superannuation. Nobody told him that at the age of 65 disability payments would stop. His CPP would be reduced, which would be further reduced from his superannuation. That is how he is treated after 32 years of wearing the red serge in service to his country. It is simply unfair. It is simply wrong.
We are talking about the heroes of our country, the men and women who wear their uniform with unlimited liability. It does not matter on what side of the House members sit, we all have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that their needs and the needs of their families are taken care of. That includes headstones.
We should not be using outdated legislation that was passed almost 50 years ago to claw back money from the pension benefits of these men and women.
We have explained in previous debates how we could pay for it. We have explained in previous debates why it is important to allow these men and women financial dignity when they retire or become disabled. We have explained very clearly that many of these men and women move many times, in some cases 22 times, across the country and around the world, thereby denying their spouses the opportunity to put money into their own pension plans, thus further prohibiting their ability to live in financial dignity when they retire. It is fundamentally unfair.
We must bear in mind that this happens to all federal public servants in the country, with the exception of members of Parliament, senators and judges.
We are doing this for members of the RCMP and the military because they do not have unions and associations to argue at a bargaining table for them. We are doing it for them because they lay their lives on the line so we can stand in the House and debate important issues.
I hear a lot of rhetoric from the Conservative Party. We will have a chance next week to see where those members stand. We will have a chance to see if their vote matches their words.
I encourage Conservative members who say they support the men and women of the RCMP and the military to stand up and vote for this legislation. I ask them to allow once and for all those men and women who serve our country to have the financial dignity and support they so rightfully deserve.