Friday, 18 March 2011

Open letter to Premier Brad Wall - CPP Improvements

Today I sent the following "open letter" to Saskatchewan Premier, Brad Wall respecting proposed improvements to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  It is self explanatory:  (PDF version here)






March 18, 2011

Honourable Brad Wall
Premier of Saskatchewan
Room 226
Legislative Building
Regina, SK
S4S 0B3

Open letter to Premier Brad Wall from SFL President, Larry Hubich

Dear Mr. Wall:

RE: Meeting regarding Canada Pension Plan improvements, etc.

Attached hereto are letters from me to you dated September 20, 2010 and November 29, 2010 respecting a meeting that we agreed to convene during a discussion we had at the Richardson farm in August 2010 while attending the meeting and events of the Council of the Federation in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

During our encounter and discussion, you committed to me, in person, that we would meet for the purposes of discussing proposals by the labour movement for improvements to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In fact, your exact words to me were, “I agree, we should meet to discuss that (CPP), and other things.”

I am disappointed that you have not fulfilled your commitment to me or even demonstrated the common courtesy of a response to my follow-up letters. In fact, my office has not even received an acknowledgement of receipt of the correspondence.

I know you don’t treat representatives from business this way, but I am concerned that your government deliberately marginalizes and outright ignores the voices of organizations that you view to have different priorities than your own. What other organizations and/or groups do you dismiss out of hand?

Recently, I received copies of an e-mail exchange between you and a citizen writing to you concerned about expansion of the uranium industry set against a backdrop of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed that your reply was dated (Tuesday) March 8, 2011, in response to the citizen’s original e-mail of Saturday, March 5, 2011. A three-day turnaround from the Premier is remarkable. Here I have been waiting patiently for you to live up to a personal commitment you made more than 7 months ago.

Now, Mr. Premier, we are not asking for special treatment, or special consideration – but we would appreciate the Federation of Labour being given the same courtesy as, say, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, or other business lobby groups. After all, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour represents approximately 100,000 taxpaying citizens in our wonderful province. Surely their thoughts, opinions and ideas are of interest to the Premier of the Province.

It’s alarming and inappropriate for you to suggest that you have had no time to hear personally from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour in the nearly 4 years that you have been Premier.

Awaiting contact from you regarding the commitment you made, but have yet to fulfill.

Yours truly,

Larry Hubich, President
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

cc: SFL Executive Council
enc.

UPDATE:  Today (March 22) I finally received a reply from the Premier.  You can view it here.  He has confirmed that he is reneging on the commitment to meet that he made to me in August of 2010.  Guess I should have bought one of them fancy $1,000 per year "Elite party memberships" instead of taking him at his word.

30 comments:

Joe Kuchta said...

Premier Brad Wall and the Sask. Party cabinet made time to meet with representatives of BHP Billiton on March 14, 2011, in Regina.

According to the StarPhoenix, Andrew Mackenzie, a senior executive with BHP Billiton, said the meeting ‘had no special purpose.’

“It’s just catching up,” he said.

Wall can find time to meet with BHP about nothing, but in four years hasn’t been able to find any time to meet with the SFL to discuss issues important to working people. What a disgrace.

http://www2.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/local/story.html?id=ca3e2877-a622-4f2b-bce5-8217a619c916

Trent said...

Larry, how "disingenuous" of you.

To start with, Premier Wall has no control over the Canada Pension Plan, the CPP is a federal issue, not provincial, so meeting with Brad Wall is pretty much a waste of your time and his.

I'm guessing you want his support in taking your suggestions to the Federal government, but there again, we have Members of Parliament to whom you should be taking your concerns and suggestions to, not the Premier's office.

If you are uncomfortable talking to a Liberal or Conservative MP from Saskatchewan, I suggest you forward your plans for reforming the CPP to your friend, NDP leader Jack Layton, and he could introduce them in a private members bill. If your suggestions have merit, I'm sure the Liberal, Bloc and NDP MPs would see to it that they are passed...and they won't require a meeting with Saskatchewan's Premier Wall to do so.

What I think you really want, Larry, is an issue. Some reason to cast Premier Brad Wall in a negative light, thus bringing him down to such a level that Dwain Lingenfelter actually starts to look good to Saskatchewan voters. But I can assure you that it will take a lot more than not wanting to listen to your ideas about the CPP to get him there.

Larry Hubich said...

Trent,

Thank you for participating in this blog.

It is clear from your comments that you lack a grasp of the complexities related to proposed improvements to the CPP. Your understanding of how changes are made to the CPP does not align with reality or the facts.

While the CPP is administered by the Federal government, it requires the support of at least 2/3 of the provinces representing at least 2/3 of the population to affect a change to the pension regime.

It is also clear that you have not been keeping abreast of this issue. You obviously lack knowledge or understanding of the position advanced by the Saskatchewan governnment at various meetings of Finance Ministers and/or the Premiers in the past related to proposed improvements to the CPP.

I'll let you in on a little secret.... Premier Wall confirmed to me, when we chatted in August in Manitoba that there was only one province (at that time) that was off-side with improvements to the CPP. That being Alberta. Even the Federal government (at least Finance Minister Flaherty) supported improving the CPP in August 2010.

Mr. Gantefoer, when he was Finance minister, supported (on behalf of Saskatchewan) improvements to the CPP at the meeting of Finance Ministers in Charlottetown, PEI in June 2010.

Some of what I am sharing with you here is confirmed in this National Post article. I recommend it to you.

My asking the Premier to live up to his commitment has nothing to do with either Mr. Lingenfelter or the NDP. Neither Mr. Lingenfelter nor anyone from his party were in attendance when I had my discussion with Mr. Wall in August.

What this IS about is an expectation that the Premier would keep his word.

Trent said...

Thanks, great article.

Now, are you denying that you are deeply involved with the NDP on all things political?

Now, I still don't know why you are not taking your concerns through the proper channels? From the article you presented, there is a review due in 2012, a mere year away.

Do you somehow think Premier Wall can make Quebec and Alberta reverse their opposition to changing the CPP?(BTW, you said only Alberta opposed changing the CPP)

Why can't Jack Layton carry forth your suggestions? And what are your suggestions, for that matter?
Your desire for a meeting with Premier Wall is highly suspect and fooling no one, Mr. Hubich.

Here are a few quotes from the Mr. Falherty in the National Post article :
"This is not the time to proceed with implementation. There may be some difference of opinion about that, but we will see during the course of the meeting," he told reporters. Alberta and Quebec side with the Harper government on this issue.

"We should keep working on it, and if we can then arrive at a consensus a year or two from now, that would be the time to do it. We have our triennial review which is due in 2012 -- we review the Canada Pension plan as a matter of course -- so that might work as a timetable.

Larry Hubich said...

Trent,

Thank you for your additional comments.

My dealings with the current government, in my capacity as President of the SFL, has nothing to do with the NDP. Your continued incidence that it does underlines and further illustrates your lack of understanding.

You need to re-read my previous comment, I said it was Mr. Wall who confirmed that Alberta was the only province "off-side" with CPP improvements in August when we had our discussion. The information that I have related to this is that Quebec was indifferent to the changes and were not standing in the way of improvements.

Why? Because the CPP does not apply in Quebec. They have the QPP. I'm sure you will have noticed that on your T4, or some other such tax document.

The fact is, in June and August of 2010 only one jurisdiction opposed CPP improvements (including the Feds) and that was Alberta. It appears that Stephen Harper read the riot act to Flaherty, and told him to flip-flop. It now appears that the Wall government is falling in line with the demands of the PMO.

Considering you are so determined that this should be raised at the Federal level, you can rest assured we (the labour movement across Canada) are pressing this matter at all levels, in every province and federally.

You can get a full background on the labour movement's pension proposals at: Retirement Security for Everyone.

Thank you again for participating in this blog.

Trent said...

Larry,

In all the years I have read your blog, I can't remember you once criticizing any NDP government, or even a NDP MLA, for that matter. Not even when Lorne Calvert brought in 0, 0, & 1 legislation for government employees did you complain. Perhaps you did, but I certainly don't recall you doing so.
So I'm sure you can understand why someone might get the idea that you are extremely partisan when, as the President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, you fail to criticize the then NDP Premier for acting like a third world dictator by taking away government employee's right to collectively bargain.

Larry Hubich said...

Trent,

You wouldn't have seen many Federation criticisms of previous governments (or my own) on this blog because the blog was only started in 2007.

In any event, the actions of previous governments have nothing to do with the failure of the current Premier to live up to a commitment he made.

Trent said...

I would like to read your proposed changes to the CPP. I'm sure others would, as well.

Larry Hubich said...

There are 3 major points in the proposed changes recommended by labour (with a number of sub-points). All of that information is available on-line here: Retirement Security for Everyone.

In summary the three major points are:

1. Phase in a doubling of CPP benefits over a 7 year period.

2. Immediately increase the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) by 15%.

3. Establish a national pension insurance program to protect citizens' pension savings against corporate bankruptcies and fraud, etc. (i.e. Bernie Madoff type Ponzi schemes, etc).

You can view what the impact of these proposed changes would have on Saskatchewan here: What does it mean for Saskatchewan?

I encourage you to read the material available on line at the links provided.

Trent said...

Thank you, Larry, I will read "Retirement Security for Everyone". But, first, I must say that being a former Teamster I particularly like your 3rd point.
When the Teamster's pension plan went broke - after years of union leaders stealing it blind - it left a lot of hard working truck drivers literally out in the cold.
On your 1st point I do have questions about how you would fund the doubling of benefits over 7 years? I'm guessing you would increase the employer's contributions, but I'll find out when I read the entire proposal.
Thanks again, Larry.

Trent said...

Ok, I didn't read every single letter to the editor linked to in "Retirement Security for Everyone", but I did read Andrew Jackson's (people must call him "Stonewall") submission to a budget committee and was very impressed. I believe Deb Higgins explained the same proposals to Richard Brown on JGL a few weeks ago.
A lot of bitter facts, such as the failures of RRSP's to perform and people to save for their own futures really stand out.
The increase required in CPP contributions to funded a doubling of CPP benefits appear to be minimal and I would expect them to be implemented next year when the CPP goes under review.
I have to say that what I read so far appears to be very well thought out and very needed.
So, Larry, if the proposals are already before parliament and readily available to anyone, just why are you demanding a meeting with the Premier?

Larry Hubich said...

I'm not demanding anything. I've been following up on a conversation we had that was really quite cordial. And he doesn't even have the common courtesy to reply or acknowledge.

I offered to provide a more thorough briefing and answer any questions. He thought that was a good idea and suggested we had additional items to discuss. And now silence.

Classy.

Trent said...

Well, maybe you're on to something. It's as if Premier Wall is suspicious of your motives. I wonder why? How has the SFL treated the Saskatchewan Party Ministers they invited to an event when the Ministers have graciously shown up?
You reap what you sow, Larry.

Larry Hubich said...

Sask Party Ministers who have attended SFL events have always been treated no less respectfully than representatives from any other government.

The exception to that is when Rob Norris attended our convention in 2008 and he got booed out of the place.

I will admit that I would have preferred a different result. The fact is that while that unfortunate situation was occuring I offered Norris to try to bring the delegation to order. Which he refused and just kept trying to talk above them.

Kind of like poking them in the eye and taunting them. He achieved his objective, which was to paint the workers that he had just assaulted through legislation as the villians.

Are you suggesting that the Premier is vindictive and spiteful?

Sask Man said...

Larry, Did you ever consider that maybe the Premier see's how he is treated by you in every forum possible, that you label him in the worst possible light whenever possible.

Why would anyone you treat you with respect and or consideration when you are such an ass.

Larry Hubich said...

Sask Man,

Thank you for participating in this blog.

Which specific "forums" are you are you talking about when you say "every forum possible"? Examples?

Sask Man said...

C'mon Larry don't be cute, there has not been an instance when you have not taken any available opportunity to disparage Brad Wall or the government. Your bias is so obviously clear and you have the nerve to act incredulous.

Give us a break,nobody buys it, you have conditioned us all to expect nothing less from you.

Larry Hubich said...

Sask Man,

Thank you for your additional comment.

Broad sweeping statements and unsubstantiated allegations by you without specific examples to back up your assertions just doesn't cut it.

Either you have examples of these "so-called" forums, or you don't. Prove your allegations.

parkadeboy said...

Mr. Hubich. It should be obvious now that you are the target of a strateic and irritating assault by a number of saskparty hacks who have volunteered to harass anyone who speaks out against the provincial government. Trent is generally civil, but is assigned to go after you politely. Sask man is the adenoidal, deep voiced daily caller to the gormley program. There are others. At their recent convention, they had a closed door session on how to use social networking to try and stop or deflect all criticism of mr. wall on the net. They are quite pathetic and you are to be commended for your patience with these characters.

Sask Man said...

Relax parkadeboy,

My adenoids are fine. I would think that Trent and I simply provide balance to the numerous and often outright lies the media is flooded with from the NDP, unions, and the likes of Mr. Hubich and other radical unionists. I think it is most grating when you pontificate and speak down to the rest of us as if we are fools and not intellectually capable of grasping how correct your point of view is. I made a very plain obvious statement. If Mr. Hubich wants so badly to speak to the Premiere he has to do it the same way anyone else would, not simply demanding it. I would submit that since his hotline to the Premiers office went out with Mr. Calvert this attempt to "create" a story where none exists wreaks of sour grapes.

Larry Hubich said...

Sask Man,

How is patiently following up on a committment made by a Premier "demanding"?

You accuse me of "numerous and often outright lies" - let's see some proof of those allegations.

It seems easy for you to engage in slander and libel anonymously from behind an alias on a blog.

Anything I have to say, I put my name to it. Who's the liar?

Sask Man said...

Your open letter to the Premiere, you feign dissapointment (which is a lie) you wanted nothing more than to try and create an issue. You infer & imply that the Premiere is indifferant and marginalizes you and your members, you have no idea what his motives are, you are creating motives, maybe he sees zero value in having any dialogue with such a clear detractor of Sask Party policies, what of value would come of it for anyone other than you?.


As far as my anonymity, I need it for protection. It has been my experiance that the left and certain union individuals react very strongly when anyone disagrees with them.

That's fine Larry, you can go ahead and incredulously hold out your hands as the victim, your welcome to the last word, it's your blog.

Larry Hubich said...

Sask Man,

Thanks again for partipating in this blog.

Your last comment pretty much confirms my point. You have no evidence to back up your ludicrous allegations.

And so now you resort to an equally ludicrous statement that you are afraid for your safety from those nasty union people. You're listening to too much trash talk radio.

I'm done with you.

Trent said...

"I will admit that I would have preferred a different result. The fact is that while that unfortunate situation was occuring I offered Norris to try to bring the delegation to order. Which he refused and just kept trying to talk above them.

Kind of like poking them in the eye and taunting them. He achieved his objective, which was to paint the workers that he had just assaulted through legislation as the villians.

Are you suggesting that the Premier is vindictive and spiteful?" - Larry Hubich

Norris went there to speak and so he did. Don't try to blame the immature behavior of your fellow workers on him.

As far as the Premier being vindictive and spiteful, my answer is no, he is not. He is, however, too smart to allow himself to be subjected to the harassment your follow members put Minister Norris through. You know that, Larry.

Anyways, I gave you props on JGL today for the way you operate your blog and I apologize that it may have attracted some surly characters.

parkadeboy said...

Trent Lalonde you are one of the worst saskatchewan party shit disturbers on the internet and you know it. Don't act like you are a nice guy because lots of people who know you also know that you aren't.

Trent said...

I've always been respectful of Larry on his blog.

Trent said...

parkadeboy,

I do so enjoy knowing that I've gotten under your skin. @;^)

parkadeboy said...

You just made my point for me. How does trying to get under the skin of those you disagree with do anything to advance your political party? Getting under someone's skin is mischief making. I came here because I've read your comments on Twitter about Mr. Hubich and I am sure that you do more to lose votes for your political party by acting the way that you do. Most Saskatchewan people don't try to get under people's skin. For some reason you find that amusing.
I feel sorry for you and hope that one day your bully ways will come back to haunt you.

Sask Man said...

Good Morning Larry,

Just wanted to let you know that your buddy Gormeley just made you look the fool regarding this whole letter to the Premier business.

You failed to mention that you have had as many as 3 meetings with the ministers responsible for your concerns and also got a letter from the Premier regarding the issue specifically.

Appears a bit disingenuous to then be-moan your lack of attention.

And yet you claim to be innocent, the victim no less.

Larry Hubich said...

Sask Man,

Thank you for your additional entry on this blog topic.

As I rarely listen to "NewsTalk Radio" and even less frequently to Mr. Gormley's show, I couldn't comment one way or the other about what he had to say today.

As for the noted 3 meetings with "ministers" you refer to, I've had more meetings than that with ministers over the term of the current government. And if you'd have been paying attention you would have noticed that I posted the letter from the Premier (as an update to this posting) shortly after I received it yesterday afternoon. (Is this the letter Mr. Gormley was referencing?)

The March 21 letter from the Premier does absolutely nothing to relieve him of the commitment he made to meet with me regarding the CPP and other items when we discussed such a meeting in August of 2010 in Manitoba.

He knew exactly what we were talking about when we agree to the meeting that was being contemplated, and who would attend it. Our conversation was very cordial and very friendly and we both agreed a follow-up meeting was desirable.

For some reason he is now reneging on that commitment.