This week Liberal MP Robert Thibault (West Nova, Nova Scotia) displayed a shocking contempt for older Canadians when he claimed his Conservative opponent, former Nova Scotia Finance Minister Greg Kerr was not a “credible candidate”, saying:
“If they wanted to take me out, I would think you’d get someone who’s looking forward to building a political career, not somebody who’s at the age where he’s considering retirement. You’re not building for the future here. This is a candidate who’s lost provincially, lost federally, and is what, 62, 63 years old?”
Senator Marjory LeBreton, Secretary of State for Seniors, took exception to Mr. Thibault’s comments. “Seniors worked hard and have built Canada into the country it is today,” said Minister LeBreton.
“Seniors have a lifetime of talent and experience and we should be encouraging them to remain in public life, not treating them as an after thought. As a senior myself, I find Mr. Thibault’s comments offensive.”
Mr. Thibault’s comments fit into a larger Liberal pattern of brushing off older Canadians. The Globe and Mail reported on September 6, 2006 that leadership candidate Stephane Dion met with representatives of a seniors group and quickly rejected their call for a cabinet minister for the elderly, saying: “Please, do we have a better topic?”
Ironically, Mr. Thibault was a supporter of 61-year old Michael Ignatieff’s bid for the Liberal leadership. Arch-rival Bob Rae is 60.
“It’s strange that Mr. Thibault would make such a comment about Mr. Kerr at a time when many Canadians are choosing to stay in the workforce past the traditional age of retirement,” added Minister LeBreton.
“Clearly, Mr. Thibault and the Liberals don’t appreciate older Canadians. Seniors need to feel welcome in the workforce because with labour shortages in many parts of the country, Canada is going to need the talent of our older workers now more than ever.”