We’ve been waiting for it to appear since the 1990’s, so it’s about time that it finally put in a cameo:
At last, the hidden agenda, and not a moment too soon. Vague, indirect and overseas as it was, Stephen Harper’s Davos speech was perilously close to a vision statement, of a kind the prime minister has seldom made until now, and will henceforth have to make often.
It would be nice if he had shared with us his concerns about the ageing of the population, and the threat it poses to our long-run social and economic health, sometime before the last election, rather than joining in the all-party consensus that there was nothing wrong with Canada that could not be fixed with more and richer promises to the elderly.
[. . .]
How serious is the cost side of this conundrum? The president of the C. D. Howe Institute, Bill Robson, has projected the “net unfunded liability” implied by this unprecedented demographic shift — that is, promises to pay benefits out of public funds for which we have made no provision in taxes, “net” of any savings from having fewer children about — at about $2.8-trillion. With a T, ladies and gentlemen: about 160% of GDP. (That’s in addition to the $800-billion unfunded liability in the Canada Pension Plan and its Quebec counterpart — yes, they are pulling in enough each year to meet their current obligations, but that does not mean they are “fully funded,” the prime minister’s claims to the contrary — to say nothing of the $600-billion national debt.)