Tories are clearly seeking new friends

It’s clear with this election-year federal budget that the Conservatives know which side their bread is buttered on.

Senior citizens – those who have savings, anyway – fared quite well in Tuesday’s budget, as did other people approaching their twilight years.

Current rules dictate that at age 71, seniors have to start withdrawing a minimum of 7.38 per cent of the money in their RRIF and pay taxes on it.

But the budget has now reduced that figure to 5.28 per cent, to "help reduce the risk of outliving one’s savings," the government says.

Also, this budget has increased the cap for contributions to one’s Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) to $10,000 from the current $5,500.

It’s wonderful news for people who have room to save money. Of those people who contribute to the maximum allowed, 70 per cent are age 55 and older. There are apparently 11 million such accounts out there.

Now, consider who votes. Let’s look at the general election in 2011. Of people ages 18 to 24, only 39 per cent bothered to vote. The number goes up, though, the older we get. Of the 25 to 34 set, 45 per cent voted, and 54 per cent voted of those ages 35 to 44. Of all eligible voters in Canada who were between the ages of 45 and 54 in 2011, 65 per cent voted; 72 per cent voted of those aged 55 to 64, and 75 per cent of people aged 65 to 74 voted. Of people over 75, 60 per cent voted and the total voter turnout was 61 per cent.

Similar patterns bear out in earlier general elections, always with the highest percentage of voter turnout by age group being those aged 65 to 74.

Coincidence? Nina Grewal, Conservative MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, says the government is "putting more money into the pockets of residents so they can raise their families and save for retirement."

On the other hand, Jasbir Sandhu, NDP MP for Surrey North, said "this is totally a budget for the rich – if you’re rich, it’s a good budget."

Well, there’s one thing we can pretty much be certain of – come this fall, seniors will be getting out to vote and the Conservatives are hoping they’ve made some new friends. The Now

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