House passes MP pension changes in surprise deal

Members of Parliament agreed this morning to split off measures to change their pensions from the rest of the budget implementation bill and pass them without debate in the House.

That means those measures go directly to the Senate, where they will be debated and voted on separately from Bill C-45, the second piece of legislation needed to implement the March 29 federal budget.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae suggested Thursday that his party was willing to pass the changes to MP pensions right away and to discuss making the changes sooner than set out in the government's legislation.

The NDP have said they don't want MPs determining their own pensions and would like to see an independent panel review them.

The proposed changes mean MPs will start paying more into their pension funds as of Jan. 1, eventually ramping up to making 50 per cent of the contributions. MPs elected for the first time starting in 2016 won't be able to collect their pensions until age 65, up from age 55, or will take a hit in the pension if they want to start collecting sooner.

The motion came a few minutes before question period Friday, and wasn't the first time the House tried to pass it.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau moved Thursday afternoon to separate out pensions from the budget implementation bill, but didn't get the required unanimous consent.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen says the party wouldn't agree because they didn't want to speed through the changes to public service and RCMP pensions.

The next attempt came Friday mid-morning, but also failed, again because of the public service pensions. Cullen was spotted heading in and out of the office of Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, indicating the possibility of negotiations over the motion.

The final motion, applying to just MP pensions, passed just before 11 a.m. ET.

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