Friday, 24 February 2012

Hanoski case registered in Toronto court. Out of town is not out of touch.

Father René Labelle charged with sexual abuse by the Ontario Provincial Police. This is the way it is supposed to work.
by Tom Thorne
Father René Labelle was charged yesterday by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Kingston, Ontario with alleged sexual assault of a teenage boy in 2004. Now this is the way it is supposed to work unlike the Hanoski case which is resorting to a civil court action to make a case.
In addition, the Hanoski civil case is launched in Toronto Ontario Superior Court which makes it difficult to get at the court documents without making an expensive 200 km. trip to see them. Any activity on this case will take place in Toronto far away from Belleville and Kingston. Perhaps the strategy is to be out of sight and out of mind? 
The Labelle case will get a plea from the defendant on 27 March 2012 in Kingston court. That appears never to have happened in the Hanoski case as far as I can discern at this time.
We need to know about any Hanoski discovery meeting and also any booking of trial time in Toronto should that be needed. That would only happen if the parties cannot come to some settlement.
As I said earlier I don't expect a trial I expect that the parties will concoct  a settlement. That can only mean that the proof of the case is poor or difficult or that there are no witnesses willing to come forward. 
The Court Rules of Civil Procedures go as follows. The Claim is made, in this case by Joseph Hanoski. The Defence, in this case probably the Archdiocese of Kingston and perhaps the priests themselves, is presented to the court by their lawyer. 
The parties must exchange all documents within 10 days and possibly go to an Examination of Discovery to figure out the nature of the evidence and to see if a settlement is possible. Then at the same time there can be a discussion of Settlement within 60 days of the Claim.
If a settlement can't be reached then the case can be set down for trial and that happens after 180 days. There is the possibility at this stage to call for Mediation of any differences preventing a settlement.
Usually the parties realize the futility of a trial and come to a settlement but if the trial goes ahead then a lot more time elapses. In this case we already have eight years of  inertia that in some ways has made any aspect of this case somewhat farcical and insipid. That is partly the reason why I expect a settlement. 
Everything has dragged on for too long. The trial route could lengthen this process by up to two years if there is a lot of legal roadblocks by the defence to prevent paying a financial settlement for as long as possible.
However, it is very likely that the Archdiocese of Kingston has some kind of insurance and if that is so then the insurance company carrying the can will make this a very hard settlement to obtain. They will keep it as low as they can and the settlement will be seen as less expensive than going to court with all its attendant costs and risks mainly for the plaintiff but actually for both parties. This is another reason why I expect a settlement. It is simply less costly.
In order to get a settlement both sides, and certainly if there is an insurance company involved, will want silence from all parties. The Insurance people will want silence because they don't need to broadcast amounts and details of the settlement as precedent for other similar cases.
Joseph Hanoski is likely to settle in silence because he will have made his point even if it remains vague and indistinct. Any settlement will come fairly soon.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Hanoski Case: Keep watch for the silent settlement.

Will the gavel ever come down on the Hanoski case?

Sex abuse cases are a potential lose-lose for everyone if all you can do is launch a civil court action.
by Tom Thorne, Belleville, Ontario
An earlier statement from the Archdiocese of Kingston in Ontario about the Hanoski case confirms the following: "The Archdiocese of Kingston can confirm that it has been served with a legal action in which allegations are made by Joseph Hanoski.  These allegations have not been proven in court.  Neither of the priests named in the civil suit is presently involved in parish ministry.  Since the legal process is underway, no other information pertaining to the proceeding can be provided at this time. The Archbishop and the Archdiocese request prayers for all concerned."
When Joe Hanoski decided to bring his civil action against Father Paul Hamilton and Father Michael Reed he and his legal council must have realized that by launching this case any proof would be have to be furnished by himself. If proof had been available and clear cut before, this case would have been dealt with long ago so what can have changed?
If there are witnesses to what allegedly happened then someone may emerge who has remained silent for almost eight years.  If there are witnesses that never came forward eight years ago and they are prepared to speak now then the civil case makes some sense. If there are no witnesses or new information then it remains simply one person’s word against another.
The most pressing question is the timing of this civil action. Why have almost eight years gone by before the civil case is launched? And why was the case never been on a police blotter and if it  ever was in the police hands what happened that nothing was done or that criminal charges never materialized? I am digging further into this part of the story at this time. It is Catholic Church policy from the Vatican in such cases to report them to the police as the Archdiocese of Kingston did recently with allegations raised against Father René Labelle.
It can only be that there is no evidence that can stand up in criminal court. And so the only way for the case to surface is as a civil action which is a weaker alternative. Civil actions have a way of never getting into open court. There will be a discovery meeting and if proof or a way to resolve the issue is not forth coming then a trial could result. It is difficult to ascertain how a settlement that would satisfy Joe Hanoski can be reached. Also if the case is without any obvious merit then the judge can simply dismiss the action.
If there is any substance to the case or the parties simply want to come to terms then settlement will likely be private between the parties as I said before. The silence we have all known for the past eight years will probably continue. Since the case has not had a trial airing, the innuendos and the reputations of all concerned will remain damaged even if they are innocent. Time and more silence does not heal wounds, it simply aggravates the situation.
Let’s presume for a moment that the priests named in this civil action are innocent. Their reputations are sullied for all time unless they can show that innocence in open court or in public. Public opinion at this time is clearly favouring Joe Hanoski as an alleged victim. The public will not assume innocence for the defendants. However, the priests could always counter sue for the damage done to their reputations.
Joe Hanoski is allegedly suing for $3.5 million in damages. Who is on the hook for this money? The defendants of course but also their diocese. The defendants have no real assets, but the Archdiocese of Kingston and their insurance company does. A successful award to Joe Hanoski will be a lot less than $3.5 million in any case. However any dollar settlement is ultimately a cost to all Catholics supporting their parishes throughout the archdiocese.
How much less can the dollars involved be? A small fraction of the $3.5 million would be my guess. Then there are the costs of bringing the action and the costs for the defense . If you lose the case or it is dismissed then the plaintiff pays those court costs and the costs of any legal representation the plaintiff and the defendants may have mounted up.
If the plaintiff wins (and that means proves the case) then the defendants are subject to damages plus costs. The defendants could if proof is obtained in the civil trial also be subject to criminal action.
Joe Hanoski’s lawyer must be quite confident of winning this case to even launch a civil action of this kind. It would be foolhardy to enter into this case after eight years of silence unless there is new information or a way forward for the plaintiff. 
Just having your day in court is not enough. Going to court is always risky and going to trial even more so for all concerned. Perhaps all the participants in this exercise have not clearly thought out the implications of their actions.
Hopefully this civil court action can create a situation where justice can prevail. However justice is always blind and the results of this action may satisfy no one and the fallout may remain toxic forever. 
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

What is happening about the Hanoski civil action? Not much to this point in time.

Justice not seen is justice not done.

The alleged sexual abuse story heats up in a flurry of speculation, innuendo and perhaps even libel.

by Tom Thorne


Continuing my coverage of this case...
I presume that when the Quinte News Radio website publishes a comment from a certain "mike" on 21 January 2012 they can back up what he says. Mike alleges that Father Paul Hamilton and Father Michael Reed both sexually abused him when he was an alter boy at Holy Rosary. If this is not true then it is clearly libelous.
If what "mike" alleges proves to be true under oath, then the Joe Hanoski charges may have some traction.  Will this "mike" be  subpoenaed  as a witness or will he remain as an anonymous "mike" and never come forward?  Will he become yet another silent innuendo?  And so the story builds in this small Eastern Ontario town with over 51 comments appearing on the website of these local broadcasters. 
Another website styled Sylvia's Site covers the trials of alleged miscreant priests in some detail. This site, however, also contains unsubstantiated rumor about Father Paul Hamilton's alleged misuse of Holy Rosary parish funds. This rumor was denied two Sundays ago by the current Holy Rosary pastor Father John Hibbard.
Suffice it to say that Father Hibbard made it very clear that after the usual financial audits of the parish when he took over eight years ago, and after Father Paul Hamilton was placed on administrative leave, nothing was found to be wrong with the parish finances. 
Hopefully this rumor is now set to rest. It is clear that Sylvia's Site in this instance is potentially spreading innuendo if not a libel. I contacted the site yesterday asking for a comment about their sources and to this point have not received a reply.
The other website that is very pro Hanoski is one operated by a Will Samuel, a friend of plaintiff Joe Hanoski and his wife. It is very supportive of Joe Hanoski but it is in no way anything more than an opinionated view of the alleged events. There is no substantiated facts on this website that would help us get any insights about what really happened.
So that leaves us still in a limbo state. The Archdiocese of Kingston has retained a stoney silence as they have done for over eight years. Again unsubstantiated rumor has it that the Archdiocese says that they are not responsible for any outcomes of a civil trial. 
This rumor makes absolutely no sense because they are named in Hanoski's  Statement of Claim. Of course the Archdiocese is involved in any civil action launched against any of their priests while they held an office of trust in a parish operated by the Archdiocese.
And what are the other media in  Belleville doing to get at this story? Well to this point the daily newspaper has done nothing. There is a silence from the Intelligencer. They have not followed up on the Quinte News radio story.
Another aspect of this story also needs an airing. There is interesting outcome in civil law for not hearing civil cases for members of "self governing organizations". The Catholic Church and its archdioceses fall under this heading and in particular a case involving Father Brian Hart was lost on appeal when Hart attempted to launch a civil action against The Archdiocese of Kingston.
Hart lost his appeal because he was subject to processes under Canon Law. Priests and nuns are not employees in the sense that they are subject to secular civil employment law. They are subject to their own Canon Law processes. However, they are subject to criminal law.
That may account for why Father Paul Hamilton has been only subject to Canon law but those accused of alleged sexual indiscretions are by the same token reported to the police by an Archdiocese for possible civil or criminal action. That just happened in the Archdiocese of Kingston with the reported case of Father Rene Labelle eight days ago covered by the Kingston Whig Standard and CKWS TV news.
Yesterday I emailed Archbishop Brendan O'Brian in search of clarification of where the Archdiocese of Kingston stands on the civil action brought against Father Paul Hamilton and Father Michael Reed.
There seems to be two standards at work here. The  Archdiocese reported Father Labelle to the police for their potential action according to the Whig Standard and CKWS stories. Why then has Father Hamilton's case taken so long and  was it reported to the police when it happened almost eight years ago?  And if it was reported to the police back then what evidence was there?  Time to get some answers. If this civil case goes to a settlement hearing the parties will probably agree to maintain silence forever.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Monday, 6 February 2012

There are not enough Catholic priests. Why not reintroduce a married priesthood?

Prayer can only do so much. Vocations to the priesthood
remain low and creative change is needed to re-build the priesthood.

How Catholic Priests are chosen to enter the seminary and finally be ordained to Holy Orders. Sexual orientation is a key aspect of this process.
by Tom Thorne
When Catholic males decide to become a priest they know from the outset that they will be subjected to a lengthy period of discernment and scrutiny. This effort is made to make certain that they are able to deal with the rigors of the life of a priest and also that they have a strong spiritual calling, plus a strong enough character to maintain a celibate state.
Candidates are put through a process of discernment not only to examine their spiritual calling but also their sexual orientation. If they show or admit to homosexual tendencies then they are politely asked to reconsider their call to the priesthood. In fact they will not proceed further since their sexual orientation bars them from the priesthood according to a Vatican edict.
The Vatican document about this process is called: Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to persons with Homosexual Tendencies in the view of their admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders. This instruction was approved by the Pope on 5 November 2005.
The Vatican says it has in place a protocol designed to discover those with homosexual tendencies. How well this process works is not known. I suppose that a candidate for the priesthood would come clean under the scrutiny of a discernment. To do otherwise would be to lie which would create an immediate psychological tussle for the candidate.
The Vatican is free from all civil laws and the rights people now have to have their homosexual activity and orientation decriminalized and accepted as a normal human state of being. Church ideas about homosexuality are set within the bounds of Canon Law  and The Catechism which is an internal system that anyone making their way to the priesthood must agree adopt and go by.
There is no equal concern apparent in this document for heterosexual tendencies which can also be a problem should someone slips through the cracks of priestly discernment with any negative heterosexual tendencies which could as easily also be "disordered".
So where does all this  leave homosexuals in the church? Probably In the closet. How do you answer a call to become a priest if you have homosexual inclinations? Stay in the closet. Deny your sexuality and go into some kind of mental limbo state. Cannot a person with a homosexual orientation serve God?
The answer is no. You are expected  admit to your " gravely disordered" state. The implications of this Vatican document  is that "divine grace" is not available to a candidate for the priesthood who is a homosexual. Heterosexuals only need apply. 
In the same breath the church states that we should make all efforts to not shun the person in question in the sense that the person should be exposed to Christian charity and understanding. It all creates a  very approach-avoidance situation and is certainly hypocritical.
Just because someone is a homosexual or a heterosexual for that matter does not mean that they are going to become a pedophile or a sexual predator if they become a priest. That would be equally disordered, to use the Vatican language. 
In the previous piece I wrote on this topic I suggested that the lonely celibate life of a priest may create conditions where the successful control of celibacy can lapse whatever the priest's sexual orientations may be.
How does the church discover whether a candidate for the priesthood is a homosexual and why is that state any more important than discovering whether someone is heterosexual?  Why does it matter? The Vatican document does not say it merely places the responsibility for this process in the hands of Bishops and Rectors of seminaries.
So how do the Bishops and rectors of seminaries do this work? Do they use psychological tests? Do they confront all candidates with a questionnaire? Before the civil law was changed officer candidates entering the military, for example, were subjected to a number of psychological tests in my experience 
Being gay in the military was a no no in my time and the officer selection process tired to find any potential homosexual before they were accepted.  I also know that this process failed to uncover several people I know about. Now of course the military after a tortured experience over the years has largely come to terms with sexual orientation.
I imagine that priest selection is also very similar to the old military selection process which was designed to discover one's sexual orientation but also whether you were inclined to psychopathic tendencies before they let you in. 
This test looked to find disordered personalities and rooted out homosexual sexual orientation but since the military did not expect "divine" help it missed its objectives quite often. Over time it was realized that the tests they used were flawed and biased.
So diocese and seminary people have to find some way to implement the Vatican directions. It must be very tough. Many candidates for the priesthood probably are working out themselves how they will deal with celibacy  requirements of a Catholic priest whether they are homosexual or heterosexual in their orientation.
And just because they are homosexual there is no reason to think that they will turn into pedophiles or sexual predators more than heterosexuals will once they are in the priesthood. Is a homosexual with the divine grace to become a priest not able to control themselves implementing the rule of celibacy? Probably no more or less than a heterosexual. 
So why does the Vatican pick on homosexuals? First there are negative biblical references concerning homosexuality and the fact that they consider a homosexual act to be "against natural law". However the vow of celibacy would curtail any possibility of a homosexual act happening equally as it would preclude a heterosexual act. Celibacy puts sexuality on ice.
Maybe the Church doesn't trust this vow of chaste celibacy that it gives to its priests. If they did trust it then there would be no concern for any priest's sexual orientation. The Vatican's directions on this matter are clearly one sided and politically correct in the sense that they get rid of any problem before it can happen. 

Even if the rule for celibacy was dropped tomorrow the Church would still maintain its views on homosexuality. Only heterosexual marriage would be recognized if priests could marry again.  And since the Church priest selection process will have filtered away any priest with a homosexual orientation, the problem surely would never arise if and when the celibacy rule is rescinded.
If the Vatican is confident  it has implemented a no homosexual process for selecting priests there should be no reason why the sacrament of marriage could not be extended to any of the heterosexuals that are now manning the parishes of the Catholic Church. However, if the church implements marriage for priests it may open marriage for all priests whatever their sexual orientation.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Friday, 3 February 2012

The celibate life for some priests leads to spiritual awareness. For others it leads to some very dark places.

889 Years is a long time. 
The celibacy rule is now an 
institution in the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church and sexuality. Opening the can of  worms concerning the rule of celibacy for priests.

by Tom Thorne

The Catholic Church has a tortured past concerning human sexuality. Of course the teachings concerning this topic are all conceived to be positive and are directed towards building an exemplary moral life for the faithful. Sexual mores of a Catholic kind can be found in intimate detail in The Catechism of The Catholic Church

According to the Catechism heterosexual sex is seen as only kind possible and only within the bounds of matrimony between a man and woman with the objective of having children. Marriage is seen as a discipline for human sexual activity and appetites.  Marriage is a sacrament of the Church and a covenant with God. Sex outside of this sacrament is clearly seen as sin or a grave disorder. 
However, historically celibacy is often seen as a state of being higher than the marriage of a man and woman. However, celibacy is no where near to being a sacrament of the church like marriage. However, it is seen as a higher calling and a departure from the fleshy aspects of life. A high calling and a denial of the flesh whether practiced by clergy or by ordinary Catholics pursuing the single life. It is often prized above marriage as a measure of self control mixed in with a quest for spirituality unobtainable apparently to those engaging in sexual relations.  
Christ is the ultimate model for chastity and the basis for celibacy and self control of this kind.  And if your sexuality happens to be homosexual, then chastity and celibacy is your only way to live your life because otherwise you are in an automatic state of sin as a Catholic if you live out your orientation in the flesh.  It’s the sexless single life for you to stave off sin.
Sex in the eyes of the Catholic Church is seen as a great temptation that requires lots of self control and it is also seen as something very close to the Devil or at least a potential track leading to grave sin of some kind.  It is all laid out in The Catechism of The Catholic Church a document rarely examined by the faithful for its finer points on these matters.
When a priest falls from this high celibacy pedestal then the problems really arise. Even if celibacy is defacto a promise to a bishop and not a part of the sacrament of ordination to become a priest, a fall from celibacy is a serious breach of promise in the eyes of the church hierarchy. There is a lot of weight placed on this promise. It is rooted in tradition.
When they fall from their celibacy promise priests are placed on “administrative leave” and often sent to treatment centres devoted to rescuing them from their sexual failings, and sins. It is perhaps in its best form a type of reconciliation or attempt to mitigate sin and remain within a Catholic context. In a way it recognizes a type of contorted sexuality where intimacy is shunned as sin. It places sexual frustrations and tensions on the back burner with the heat set at simmer. The emphasis is on getting back into control if the priest in crisis is to ever return to a parish.
Many priests experience a burnout from trying to live this life of celibate chastity. Parish work is demanding and there is never enough time and when there is downtime for priests on a lonely vigil of sexual self control.  The main reason why priests crash or fall from grace is that  they often live alone and are frankly lonely people bereft of human interaction except in a controlled “don’t get too close” way. Sometimes it is not enough to live without intimacy. Sometimes this situation slips into pederasty or illicit sexual contacts with young people in their charge.
This inward life plays well for some but for others it is a psychological drag on their self esteem as they suppress their sexual orientations, feelings and desires or at worst the person retains a juvenile sexuality that teenagers usually work through from dating and the experimenting with life. Many priests enter seminary training without these life experiences. Their innocence is eventually their undoing.
The results we know. Case after case of priests burning out from too many parish duties combined with trying to live alone, perhaps praying to God for help as they wrestle with their truncated sexuality and lack of social interaction without anxiety or the potential for compromising their position as a priest. They must always be paragons of virtue. Always on a pedestal. This approach is  remedy for a breakdown. This is a recipe for problems. From the Church’s point of view it can always be sorted by more self control and more prayer. 
Arguments from the Catholic Church hierarchies that all faiths have sexual problems with their clergy really don’t amount to a solid case to meet their own problem. The truth is that the life of a priest is hard without intimate human company. The Catholic rules at the moment preclude priests from anything but a life of chastity and celibacy. Celibacy is a human rule made that emerged early in church history. It is, however, a rule and therefore can be changed. 
So why not change the rules? Why are priests unable to marry? And why do we have issues like married men becoming deacons and they promise if their wife dies they will take on the celibate life. Why can’t a deacon remarry?  And if a Anglican priest decides as a married man to join the Catholic Church he can do so and remain married.
The origins of celibacy go deep into Church history but they culminated in 1123 at the first Lateran Council and again in 1139 at the Second Lateran Council. The actual text for 1123 reads:
“Canon 3: We absolutely forbid priests, deacons, and subdeacons to associate with concubines and women, or to live with women other than such as the Nicene Council (NC)(NC Canon 3: states that you may stay with a wife who you married before ordination as a priest ) for reasons of necessity permitted, namely, the mother, sister, or aunt, or any such person concerning whom no suspicion could arise.
Canon 21: We absolutely forbid priests, deacons, subdeacons, and monks to have concubines or to contract marriage. We decree in accordance with the definitions of the sacred canons, that marriages already contracted by such persons must be dissolved, and that the persons be condemned to do penance.
Sixteen years later after obviously failing to fully implement the 1123 Canons, the Second Lateran Council (1139), in which some five hundred bishops took part, enacted the following canons or rules:
“Canon 6: We also decree that those who in the subdiaconate and higher orders have contracted marriage or have concubines, be deprived of their office and ecclesiastical benefice. For since they should be and be called the temple of God, the vessel of the Lord, the abode of the Holy Spirit, it is unbecoming that they indulge in marriage and in impurities.
Canon 7: Following in the footsteps of our predecessors, the Roman pontiffs Gregory VII, Urban, and Paschal, we command that no one attend the masses of those who are known to have wives or concubines. But that the law of continence and purity, so pleasing to God, may become more general among persons constituted in sacred orders, we decree that bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, canons regular, monks, and professed clerics (conversi) who, transgressing the holy precept, have dared to contract marriage, shall be separated. For a union of this kind which has been contracted in violation of the ecclesiastical law, we do not regard as matrimony. Those who have been separated from each other, shall do penance commensurate with such excesses.
This tortured approach to normal sexuality has gone on for centuries finally culminating in 1123-39 period when it was institutionalized as a rule. After this time it remained very hard to implement with many priests remaining married and even popes retaining wives and families. 
In contemporary times there is nothing to stop the Vatican from rescinding these 12th century rules. They were made by men and they can be changed by men. Other reasons for these rules in the 12th century was based on the ownership of land or inheritances and even offices claimed by the children of priests upon the death of their fathers. 
This was especially true of medieval feudal bishops, cardinals and popes who often personally owned large estates and were often members of the landed aristocracies. Some of these people owned a diocese as a feudal fiefdom holding the office of bishop and very often without ordination into the priesthood and sometimes taking ordination as a way to hold property. Often they simply hired a priest to execute their priestly functions while drawing on the revenues of the diocese. 
The Lateran Council rules also set in motion a devaluation of marriage and to some degree ingrained the misogynistic approach to women that permeates the history of the Church. Women are seen in a temptress role started by Eve and her pact with the Serpent when she defied God’s command. Women are seen as creators of sexual tensions not as partners in the work of Christ. Wives and concubines are seen in the Lateran Canons as one in the same.
More liberal Catholics recently polled clergy throughout US dioceses. The mean average of this poll for the question “Would you like to see the rule concerning the marriage of priests reexamined” was about 70 percent in favour. 25 percent felt the status quo was fine and the remaining five percent had no opinion.
Also statistics for attracting men to the priesthood have been dropping appreciably for the last 40 years. These numbers basically demonstrate that at least the celibacy rule should be re-examined. The married deacon numbers are rising slightly but since they cannot perform all priestly duties they are simply helpers to a waning priesthood. 
However, the status quo goes on regardless that an aging population in Europe and North America means fewer men will enter the priesthood anyway. This fact spells severe problems for manning the existing churches of most dioceses. It seems that the church cannot escape old ideas and is willing to see the church fade away rather than make changes that would help to keep churches open. 
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved
What is the real price of the celibate life?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Harper and Old Age Security: Let right wing ideology take flight.

Let me tell you about your Old Age Security.

Canadian Old Age Security system is not an expense to government because it creates economic activity.

by Tom Thorne
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent comments about the fate of the Canadian Old Age Security (OAS) system has opened the debate about what his government has in mind for this universal social program. 
The Prime Minister vaguely announced an OAS review and potential changes at the World Economic Forum  meeting. He may have momentarily forgotten about the old age skew of Canadian demographics when he made this announcement wishing to please his European audience with his economic toughness in the midst of their Eurozone crises.  
He stated that those already drawing the OAS at this time will see no changes to their payments. There were hints that the age to start OAS would go from age 65 to 67 but no one in the Harper government to this point will say whether this is the case or not. There was no indications about what will happen to those sitting on the cusp of OAS qualification at 64 who normally would apply after their 2012 birthday.   
If the federal government goes ahead with this change it will be affecting people who actually vote in elections. Therefore it is likely that the federal government will achieve a later qualifying age for OAS over a phase in period of time. 
This payment each month is certainly important for those on any type of disability but if you make over $67,000 per year you get the OAS clawed back in taxation. At this time those with good retirement incomes probably bank and invest the OAS each month or they see it as money for jam. Many without these higher retirement incomes see the OAS as an important part of their monthly income.
No matter where you sit on the OAS, every OAS payment to Canadians is used to generate economic activity. In short the OAS funds cycle and recycle in the economy creating economic activity that would otherwise not happen. 
It is very short sighted thinking to alter the OAS age 65 qualifying age. The brutal fact is it is hard for anyone over 60 to work in this economy. After I left my last good paying job through no fault of my own, at almost 60, I received a truncated retirement income, then I took my Canada Pension Plan (CPP) early and finally at 65 took my OAS. I worked from 60 until I was almost 70 at a retail job to augment my income.
This is typical of many people whose good pay years are cut short about age 60 and despite excellent qualifications cannot replace their last big income job after that age. For those people these social programs are very important.
I really think of the OAS as a type of currency. Whether you receive a cheque in the mail or your bank receives a string of electronic impulses OAS is a generator of cash that in most cases will be spent. Those deposits enable chartered banks to lend at Bank Act ratios thus creating money.
Therefore to think of this cash as an expense line in the federal budget is wrong. In the times we have cutting back on this benefit would stop old folks from spending and there is a big population bulge of recipients of the OAS. Think of it in terms of an economic stimulus and you have the right idea about the OAS and for that matter the CPP.
It is good political optics for right wing politicians to be seen to be hard nosed and cutting back on profligate senior citizens. Get those seniors off the public tit. Make them use up their RRSP funds they have squirreled away for a rainy day. Tell them the rainy day is here.
The problem is not a lot of Canadians have pension plans with their employers. Very few have the cushy pension plans of federal government employees, teachers and the like. Most people rely on the CPP and OAS for their retirement. Many also need the supplement part of the OAS program.
And although Canadians are older and healthier these days the prejudice that after 65 they are employable if a myth. Many leave their career jobs and then supplement their incomes after retirement working at McJobs and greeting customers at Walmart. These people may want to be fully retired but they can’t afford it. 
I know from direct experience of my own retail years of many workers who hold down two or even three jobs during their time before 65. None or few of these jobs have health plans or retirement plans. For many the CPP and OAS is all they have at 65. And those who do have pensions from employers find that without CPP and OAS they are inadequate. 
Raising the age of OAS entitlement to 66 or 67 would mean many would have to stay working. And even with the CPP and OAS they would have to remain working part time to make ends meet.
And besides the retail world, better paying jobs with pension builders in them would also  have to stay until 66 or 67. That would freeze out the places needed for the debt ridden graduates of our post secondary institutions? 
And what about the double dippers? In professions like teaching people retire with great pensions, draw their CPP and OAS and then work up to 100 days a year supply and contract teaching. Often these people stop work at 60 leaving CPP and OAS until they are 65. Or they take CPP early and bank it in investments and tax free savings accounts. These people for certain get the OAS clawed back and they take hours away from newly minted teachers who cannot find jobs.
The entire notions we have about retirement are not just what happens to the OAS and whether you qualify for it at 65, 66, 67 or whenever. OAS payments clearly create economic activity at whatever age they are paid out. Second, many people rely on the OAS and CPP because they have little savings and little opportunity throughout their work life to create them. 
Poverty for many seniors is a reality. CPP and OAS may give them less than a $1,000 per month. A couple may get $2,000 between them. Not all of them have their own home paid off and many rent so it is poverty for many.  People in this situation can be guaranteed to spend all of their money each month making as they do so a contribution to the Canadian economy. 
Finally, if the Harper government wants to mess with the OAS they may have set in motion their first really stupid decision. OAS receivers and people forced to wait for this benefit are people whose profiles show that they go to the polls and vote and not all seniors have memory problems.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.