ZOOMER Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Mug­geridge

PO­LIT­I­CAL LEAD­ERS at all lev­els re­al­ize that if they want to win an elec­tion, they ab­so­lutely must cap­ture the in­ter­est – and sup­port – of older vot­ers. A big rea­son why CARP has be­come such a pop­u­lar stop for politi­cians from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum is it’s a way for party lead­ers to reach out and tap into this vote-rich de­mo­graphic.

The Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada’s new leader An­drew Scheer was the lat­est to seize the op­por­tu­nity, pro­vid­ing the key­note ad­dress at CARP’s An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing and Chap­ter Congress, held at the ZoomerPlex in Toronto in late Oc­to­ber.

“I want to send the sig­nal that the is­sues fac­ing se­niors are very im­por­tant to the Con­ser­va­tive Party,” Scheer told the gath­er­ing of CARP rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across Canada.

In­tro­duc­ing the Op­po­si­tion leader, CARP’s di­rec­tor of ad­vo­cacy Wanda Mor­ris noted that the last “po­lit­i­cal heavy­weight” to ad­dress CARP (Justin Trudeau in 2015) is now the prime min­is­ter. Scheer joked that he would like to fol­low that “rite of pas­sage.”

The 38-year-old leader, who sur­prised most ob­servers when he cap­tured the party’s nom­i­na­tion last May, is any­thing but an es­tab­lish­ment Tory. A fa­ther of five, Scheer worked in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try in Regina be­fore switch­ing to pol­i­tics in 2005, win­ning a seat in Regina-Qu’Ap­pelle at the ripe old age of 25, de­feat­ing well-known NDP veteran Lorne Nys­trom. In 2011, he was re-elected and went on to be­come the youngest-ever Speaker of the House, un­der Stephen Harper’s Con­ser­va­tive majority.

In May, he was elected leader

of the Con­ser­va­tive Party, com­ing from well be­hind in the polls to de­feat con­sen­sus favourite Maxime Bernier.

Scheer not only used CARP’s town­hall-style event to share his party’s gen­eral pol­icy po­si­tions and an­swer ques­tions on where his party stands on se­niors is­sues but also to boost his pro­file. While he comes across as an af­fa­ble politi­cian with deft de­bat­ing skills, he’s strug­gled to es­tab­lish his voice on the na­tional stage, a dif­fi­cult task with a me­dia that’s still largely en­am­oured with Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau, not to men- tion the NDP’s ris­ing star, leader Jag­meet Singh.

In pref­ac­ing his re­marks, Scheer ad­mit­ted that the Con­ser­va­tive mes­sage failed to res­onate with the pub­lic in the last elec­tion, es­pe­cially with younger vot­ers, who came out in force and largely voted Lib­eral. “We’re in a lis­ten­ing phase right now,” he told the CARP AGM. “We lost the last elec­tion and we have to fig­ure out what we did wrong.”

Al­though Scheer wasn’t in a po­si­tion to share con­crete pol­icy mea­sures (this will have to wait un­til next year as the party de­vis- es and costs out its of­fi­cial plat­form), he did say that he wants to de­velop a pro­gram to help older Cana­di­ans that also meshes with “con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples.” While none of this is set in stone, Scheer dropped enough hints to de­duce that his se­niors agenda should re­sem­ble some­thing like this.

Re­tire­ment Se­cu­rity

Ex­pand the an­nual con­tri­bu­tion limit into Tax-Free Sav­ings Ac­counts (the Lib­er­als slashed the max­i­mum from $10,000 a year to $5,000)

Look at pro­pos­als that would elim­i­nate manda­tory RRIF with­drawls

En­sure in­fla­tion does not dras­ti­cally erode se­niors’ qual­ity of liv­ing

In­dex GIS and OAS to re­flect true cost of liv­ing for se­niors

Pro­vide in­cen­tives for Cana­di­ans to start build­ing their re­tire­ment port­fo­lio at an ear­lier age, so we don’t out­live our sav­ings

Take ac­tion to en­sure com­pa­nies can’t re­nege on their un­funded pen­sion obli­ga­tions


Re­duce taxes (he claimed the Lib­er­als are “al­ways tak­ing things away rather than build­ing things up”)

Elim­i­nate car­bon taxes (point­ing to the On­tario ex­pe­ri­ence, he says they lead to sky-high util­ity bills)

En­sure that GST or HST is not ap­plied to es­sen­tials like gro­ceries, med­i­ca­tions and, most im­por­tantly, en­ergy bills

Al­low pen­sion in­come split­ting for se­niors to re­main in place


Look into pro­vid­ing a care­giver’s al­lowance

Work with prov­inces to pro­vide sup­port and frame­work to ex­pand the num­ber of se­niors’ hous­ing units on the mar­ket

As­sisted Dy­ing

Any Par­lia­men­tary vote on this is­sue would be a free vote

If you think this agenda looks sus­pi­ciously sim­i­lar to the one Stephen Harper em­ployed dur­ing his years in power, you’re not mis­taken. Harper’s road to power was, to a great ex­tent, paved by the sup­port of older vot­ers. Dur­ing the Harper-led majority gov­ern­ments, CARP polls con­sis­tently showed a majority of the mem­bers sup­ported the Con­ser­va­tive Party be­cause of their se­niors pol­icy.

How­ever, in 2015, this formula changed abruptly. Days be­fore the elec­tion, CARP polls high­lighted a rad­i­cal shift had taken place – Justin Trudeau’s Lib­er­als had fi­nally made a sig­nif­i­cant dent in the Tory sup­port from older vot­ers, with the majority now back­ing the Lib­er­als. The Lib­er­als’ se­nior agenda (in­creas­ing GIS, en­hanc­ing the Canada Pen­sion Plan and re­vers­ing OAS el­i­gi­bil­ity back to 65 from 67) clearly struck a chord with the older elec­torate, as did a hugely ef­fec­tive last-minute ad cam­paign fea­tur­ing nona­ge­nar­ian po­lit­i­cal leg­end Hazel McCal­lion en­dors­ing the Lib­er­als’ se­niors pol­icy, while images of Trudeau’s ap­pear­ance at the CARP AGM played in the back­ground.

An as­tute politi­cian, Scheer has read these num­bers and un­doubt­edly re­al­izes the Con­ser­va­tives can no longer take the older con­stituency for granted – he must earn it. When asked if his age (both Scheer and Singh are 38, while Trudeau is 45) would

pre­clude him from fo­cus­ing on is­sues that af­fect older Cana­di­ans, he made a crack about the Lib­er­als fail­ure to ap­point a ded­i­cated se­niors min­is­ter, some­thing his own party would rec­tify.

He also claimed that rather than fo­cus­ing specif­i­cally on mil­len­ni­als or se­niors, he wants to en­gage all age groups through a multi­gen­er­a­tional ap­proach: “A lot of the is­sues younger peo­ple face also af­fect older Cana­di­ans,” he told the CARP AGM.

With more and more younger vot­ers de­cid­ing to fi­nally ex­er­cise their demo­cratic priv­i­lege and get­ting out to the vot­ing booth, this ap­proach makes a lot of sense – the party that can make the most con­vinc­ing case to both these pow­er­ful gen­er­a­tions will win the next fed­eral elec­tion.

Af­ter ad­dress­ing the CARP AGM (above), Scheer had a sit-down with Zoomer Ra­dio’s Libby Znaimer (above right). Af­ter the talk, with CARP pres­i­dent Moses Znaimer (right).

The CARP team meets with Scheer. From left to right: Laas Turn­bull, Marissa Semkiw, Wanda Mor­ris and An­thony Quinn. Scheer also had time for a pol­icy talk with Moses Znaimer

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