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Explaining how the right-wing echo chamber operates: The Strange Case of the CPP

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Editor's note: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Premiers reached a deal late yesterday to modestly increase the Canadian pension plan. Quebec continued with its own parallel plan while Manitoba did not sign on to the deal.

With Canada's premiers talking pensions on the West Coast, the Canadian right-wing echo chamber is in full cry trying to scare the beejeepers out of us ordinary folk about the hideous damage that will be wrought if anyone improves the Canada Pension Plan.

It's all baloney, of course, designed to serve the interests of a very small group -- probably amounting about 1 per cent of the population, you might say.

Still it's interesting to observe how the often noted but seldom examined right wing echo chamber actually operates. To illustrate this process -- with apologies to Frank Magazine’s "Cliché-o-matic" feature -- I have assembled for the edification of the masses a short list of recent quotations from several of the Usual Suspects on the right on the topic of the CPP.

The real question of course, is this: Do the Fraser Institute, its many regional clones, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and their journalistic auxiliaries actually get together to cook up this stuff, do they just organize a conference call? Does it all just somehow filter down from one central bureau, or is some other process at work?

There's a PhD thesis in in political science in this for someone, I think, although not one that would likely be approved by the University of Calgary.

Anyway, consider these statements, if you will:

"In short, CPP expansion is a solution in search of a problem."
– Aaron Wudrick, Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director, June 8, 2015

"The proposed CPP hike is a solution looking for a problem.”
– Ted Mallett, Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses chief economist, Dec. 17, 2015

"An expansion of the CPP is a solution looking for a problem."
– Niels Veldhuis, Fraser Institute president, Feb. 20, 2016

"An expanded CPP seems a little like the ORPP -- a solution in search of a problem."
– Finn Poschmann, Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, March 16, 2016

"Given that most Ontarians are preparing sensibly for retirement, the ORPP is a solution looking for a problem."
– Ben Eisen, Fraser Institute associate director, May 10, 2016

"Is CPP reform a solution in search of a problem?"
– Tasha Kheiriddin, former Fraser Institute director, June 16, 2016

"It becomes abundantly clear that expanding the CPP is a solution in search of a problem."
– Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute director, June 16, 2016

"Raitt called it a solution looking for a problem."
– CBC, in an interview with Conservative Finance Critic Lisa Raitt on CPP reform, June 18, 2016

"Expanding the CPP is a solution in search of a problem.”
– Ben Eisen again, June 19, 2016

Got all that?

So, whaddya think? Is fixing the CPP a solution in search of a problem? Maybe not?

This list barely scratches the surface, of course, because each example is picked up and repeated ad nauseum as supporting quotes in mainstream media articles and, even once, I confess, in one of my blog posts. Before I noticed.

It is very difficult to estimate with precision how many times this point has been repeated, because there are so many repetitions. The Fraser Institute press release featuring Lammam above appears likely to have been quoted directly more than 100 times, rarely with a balancing or critical comment, by lazy journalists for a variety of publications.

What is very clear is that the people who represent the interests of Big Business and Big Banking would very much like us to believe that improving the CPP is "a solution in search of a problem." That is to say, they desperately hope we will agree it is not needed at all because there's no problem at all, that it will cost too much money, that it may somehow deprive us of something, yadda-yadda.

The bottom line? Improvement of the CPP is not "a solution in search of a problem." It's a solution to a very real, very urgent problem affecting very large numbers of Canadians, many of whom will end their lives in poverty if the Fraser Institute and its clones, the Conservative Party, and the mainstream media get their way. Some very powerful people want us to forget all about this.

The only way to counter their influence is to let our elected representatives know how we feel -- and it's important that this particular message about the need to fix the CPP goes to politicians at both the federal and provincial levels of government.

We know what the problem is. We know what the solution is. For the good of Canada and Canadians, let's fix the CPP!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Image: Flickr/Danny James Ford


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