Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tony Ianno: the senior's friend?

The last mailing I got from Tony Ianno's office was a listing of all the wonderful things the Liberals claim to be doing, or planning to be doing, for Canada's senior citizens. In his role of Minister of State for Caregivers and Families, this is Ianno's bread and butter. He was already infamous for "rounding up busloads of 'instant Liberal' old ladies in black dresses to stack nomination meetings.*"

Shortly after winning his seat in 2004, Ianno made a rare appearance in Parliament to make the following statement:

Hon. Tony Ianno (Minister of State (Families and Caregivers), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and answer the question of the hon. member. He knows, as we have spoken earlier, that the government is very committed to ensuring that all senior citizens who are eligible for guaranteed income supplements get what they deserve. This government is working hard to ensure everyone is aware of it and we will continue to do so, as we promised in our election platform, to ensure that senior citizens who deserve guaranteed income supplements will get an increase.
With all this in mind, you have to ask yourself, if Tony Ianno and the Liberals love seniors so much, why are they trying to screw lesbian and gay Canadians out of their pensions?

On November 26, 2004, Ontario’s Court Of Appeal released its judgment on a class-action lawsuit against the federal government over CPP benefits for gay men and lesbians. It upheld a lower court’s ruling that the feds violated equality rights of widowed gay men and lesbians by denying them retroactive pension benefits. The federal government owes an estimated $80 million to as many as 1,500 gay and lesbian seniors. It’s been estimated that someone like Toronto's George Hislop could receive as much as $150,000 in back payments.

Rather than accept this ruling, and pay these vulnerable seniors what they are fairly owed, the Federal Government has filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada requesting to reverse the decisions of the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal for Ontario and thus to deny survivor's benefits to these seniors.

So, if Tony Ianno is so committed to seeing that all senior citizens get what they deserve, why hasn't he spoken out against his parties' choice to appeal the court rulings in favour of lesbian and gay seniors?


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