Editorial – Return all CPP funds to taxpayers

Mac Olsen

In a recent op-ed piece in the Edmonton Journal, Andrew Coyne took on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) for a self-promotional TV commercial aired during the recent NFL wild card weekend.

“You don’t think about CPP Investment Board,” the announcer chirped, while the usual assortment of smiling Canadians went blissfully about their assorted business, “but we think about you every day.” Indeed, “while you may not think about it, you started saving for retirement with your first paycheque.” Cue the music (Great Big Sea’s “Ordinary Day”) and the slogan: “Investing today for your tomorrow.”

Coyne goes on to highlight that the CPPIB oversees $356 billion in assets under management and is one of the world’s biggest pension funds. It currently has 1,500 employees and the compensation packages for its executives are in the millions of dollars. Moreover, he notes, the federal government would better serve its interests by advertising the inner workings of the CPPIB.

Unlike the federal government and the CPPIB, I don’t look at the world through rose-coloured glasses regarding this taxpayer-funded social program. Coyne’s analysis is interesting and should certainly make Canadian workers and businesses who contribute to the CPP, demand the abolition of this board, and all contributors’ funds reimbursed.

I hold the CPPIB in contempt because we, as taxpayers, don’t get a vote in how CPP funds are managed and we certainly don’t get financial reports on the CPP’s performance.

Through commercials like those Coyne mentions in his op-ed piece, a group of appointed executives patronizingly pat us on the head while repeating the mantra, “we know what’s best for you,” and everything is just fine. And I loathe the very idea that, ahead of this year’s federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government would covertly make political capital by touting the CPPIB’s operations.

And just as we’ve heard complaints and protests about lavish compensation packages for CEOs and boards of directors, so we can make the same complaints about the executives working for the CPPIB, who are getting their millions courtesy of Canadian taxpayers.

As for the CPPIB, there are other reasons for its abolishment. You can find some CPPIB videos on YouTube, and in one they discuss their presence in Asia, especially China, and tout the good work they are doing for Canadians. Uh, excuse me! That’s what the private sector is for! Why should private financial investment firms and capital markets have to compete with a Canadian taxpayer-funded social program in overseas markets?

As for the 1,500 people who work for the CPPIB, they can find other prospects in the private sector. They are just another part of a bloated federal bureaucracy and workforce that is unnecessary in the first place.

Following the abolishment of the CPPIB, the Canada Pension Plan should be next to go, and its funds returned to contributors. Let them make their own retirement investment decisions and eliminate a monstrous social program.

 

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