By Brendan Miller
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Alberta NDP Critic for Finance, Pensions, and Insurance and Lethbridge West MLA, Shannon Phillips has responded to the UCP’s Chief Whip Shane Getson’s recent comments regarding Albertan’s pensions.
“We have a recording that was provided to us of the UCP government Whip, so this is a person who speaks for the government and who holds a position of leadership within the government, telling his own constituents that the UCP is going to continue with their campaign to try and take Alberta out of the CPP and that ‘there may have to be some arm twisting’ – his words – of Albertans to make this happen,” Phillips told Southern Alberta Newspapers on Dec. 15.
“They are not pausing their efforts to pull Alberta out of the CPP and this is despite the tens of thousands of people that have written to us, participated in our survey, and engaged with the opposition and with the premier’s office,” said Phillips.
According to an NDP press release, Getson was recorded at a town hall meeting earlier this week making revelations about the government’s plan to gamble away Albertans’ pensions, stating that “bad numbers” from the calculations by the Chief Actuary of Canada would result in “arm-twisting.”
The recording was obtained by the Alberta NDP, and can be found on
and shows Getson stating:
“I can’t give you a definitive date because we did that event horizon. If we get the feds to come back in six or seven months and they got the number, then we put that number out, and then we would poll Albertans, and then we would look at when the referendum is. If they come up with a bad number, then we got to do some arm twisting or we got to go into, and that, changes the timelines.”
Phillips says the NDP has obtained emails exchanged between Albertans and the Premier’s office through the Freedom of Information Act telling the UCP “hands off my CPP” and that the UCP government refuses to listen and to hold in-person town hall meetings.
“The government was not brave enough to hold town halls, the finance minister wasn’t in person town halls, but the Opposition has been holding them and hundreds of people have shown up to every single one,” said Phillips.
She said the most recent town hall meeting was in Calgary on Dec. 14 where more than 300 people showed up.
She added another one will be held in Lethbridge on Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. with a location yet to be determined.
“We’re going to continue to hold these town halls because clearly the government is going to continue with their unpopular efforts and unsubstantiated efforts to use our money to sell us on something we don’t want which is handing our retirement savings, our CPP over to Danielle Smith to make decisions about,” said Phillips.
She said when the comments from Getson surfaced it was clear to the NDP that the UCP is trying to perhaps reset the agenda, given that it has been such a failure this fall to try to convince Albertans to hand over their CPP to Danielle Smith.
“They are not going to stop; they will not take no for an answer. You don’t need to take my word for it, take Shane Getson’s word for it, he speaks for the government,” said Phillips.
She said that instead of wasting time and money on trying to change Albertan’s minds about the CPP, the government should be prioritizing issues that affect Albertans.
“The priority is the health care crisis, the priority is the affordability crisis, the housing crisis, the priority has got to be overcrowded classrooms. That is what the priorities are for Albertans not handing our retirement to Danielle Smith to invest,” said Phillips.
She said the reason why the UCP hid those plans during the election is because the party knows how unpopular they are.
“Now what’s happening is they’re trying to use the full weight of government money, and propaganda, and advertising to make the case and they’re not going to stop until we make sure that Albertans are heard, and we stop them,” said Phillips.
Phillips said she asked the UCP finance Minister earlier this year how much it would cost to take Alberta out of the CPP and was told it would be close to a minimum of $500 million a year more to collect our own taxes and hire thousands of bureaucrats to administer the system.
“I think we can all agree that duplicating bureaucracy should not be the priority in terms of where we spend our money when we have a health care crisis, when we have a crisis in overcrowded classrooms, when we have a housing crisis, when we have an affordability crisis.”
“Those should be the spending priorities of the government, not spending a half a billion dollars a year minimum every year on thousands of new bureaucrats to duplicate a system that we already have nationwide,” said Phillips.
Phillips says any province has the right to give notice to leave the CPP but the question is why they would do that if it is a predictable way to provide retirement security for employers, business and workers.
“That is why the National Payroll Institute, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce have all come out against Danielle Smith’s plan to pull us out of the CPP – because it is not something that would benefit anyone except for perhaps politicians with a rather narrow set of interests in getting their hands on billions of dollars to be able to invest in their friends’ companies,” said Phillips.
When it comes to the actual power Danielle Smith has to just take Alberta out of the CPP, Phillips said the provincial government just passed a law, Bill 2, that if Alberta was to be pulled out the CPP there has to be a referendum.
“But what’s interesting is that referendum result is not binding, so we could have a referendum say ‘no we don’t want this’ to the province and then they could do it anyway. So, I proposed an amendment to that legislation making a referendum binding and they voted it down,” said Phillips.