Mr. Speaker, once again, as I did a few years ago, I stand in support of this legislation as it is very important and it is an issue that I get approached about a lot by the people in my riding. I have 195 communities in my riding and not many communities do not mention the issue of seniors, the amendments to be made to the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.
I first heard about this when I was in the Gander Mall. I was called to a meeting at the Country Kitchen. I was with retired RCMP officers. To say that they put the issue to me is a mild understatement. I was sitting in a corner and, quite frankly, I was not quite sure if I would survive because they were very passionate about this issue. When I went into that room I was six-foot-two but when I walked out I was five-foot-four. That gives members an illustration of exactly how seriously they took this issue.
I say that in jest but this is an incredibly serious issue for the entire country, whether it be the people who have served us overseas or those who serve in our communities each and every day, officers in both the military and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I, too, do a public service just like they do, but I can say that each and every day, despite how bad the debate gets here in the House, I do not put my life on the line like they do.
The boys at the Country Kitchen pointed out to me that I have the benefit of not having to go through this like they do. That is right. My pension does not go through this like their pensions do.
I want to thank the many people who have written or phoned me with respect to this debate for bringing this to the fore. What we have here is an essential benefit to allow these people to stack their pensions to the point where they would receive that better benefit. It comes down to the basic illustration of what they told me, which is that the ultimate example of an argument that works in this debate is simply this, “I worked for it. I earned it. Can I at least get it, all of it?” And why not? I get all of mine. The members across the way will get theirs provided they serve six years.
I ask the House to consider this legislation. If at some point members are not sure about this, maybe they think it is too expensive or that we cannot afford this right now in light of the economic situation, at the very least we could send this legislation to committee to be studied and have witnesses appear who can tell us their stories about how they deserve to stack their pensions so that they can receive full benefit. They can tell that better than I can. I would invite the committee to come to the Country Kitchen in Gander where it would get a real illustration of just how this legislation is the right one. That is for the members who are skeptical. I would tell those who are not skeptical to continue with their petitions and their support on this very basic issue.
My colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore has an incredible amount of passion for this. This is where all of the partisanship sort of drifts away because I would like to talk about a member of Parliament who needs to be commended by someone from another party to say good for him for bringing this in. He has been very inspiring with respect to this. He has worked very hard on this since he arrived here. No matter where we sit, what corner, what colour, what stripe or what language we use, we certainly need to give that man his due as a parliamentarian. There are certain countries in the world where he would not get away with the way he speaks about it, but in this country he can. That says a lot about our country. So, good on him but, more important, good on us for what he is doing with this.
I want to talk about some of the facts he raised. He said that this would affect 96,000 people. What this would do is very simple. In light of the conversation we are having now, the national debate is around old age security and raising the age from 65 to 67.
The people who call in are very passionate, and to say that when I take the phone the person on the other end is very angry is an understatement. It is unbelievable the anger that has been sparked by this conversation and the prospect of increasing that age.
The argument on the other side is that we need to do something to protect the system that we have and cherish so much. Now we have experts who are basically saying that the sky is not falling, that the program is essentially sound and that what we are doing is raising the flag for no apparent reason.
This is about old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. I cannot think of a greater poverty-fighter in this country than the pension system we currently hold dear, which I believe is the best in the world. It is a pension system that we work towards, we earn and we get unless we are a retired Mountie or a retired officer.
Now let us get back to that one. The integration of the systems pulls back the benefits that someone has accrued, the benefits due to them through the Canada pension plan. How about that? People work all these years in a job where they risked their life and are entitled to a defined benefit every month, only to have their Canada pension plan taken away from them despite having contributed to it.
Essentially, with this clawback, we need to work towards stacking these pensions so that people get the full benefit of what they deserve.
Certainly I do believe that the input across the country has been great. Again, I go back to what the member mentioned about EI deductions, because that is one of the ways to get around this. It is one of the ways we can fix this with some positive comment in committee.
I certainly do believe that the people involved here should receive their benefits, because when it comes to the Canada pension plan, they do deserve it. They paid in, just like any other Canadian has done, and in addition have risked their lives.
Regarding the superannuation, unfortunately, because of all these plans they have invested in, the clawback is insulting. Maybe that is a harsh word, but let us face it: it is an insult.
I do not get a clawback. I will not get one at 55.