The 1990s saw the growth and consolidation of hundreds of senior citizens' organizations across Canada. As membership in these organizations grew, they became an increasingly powerful political force.
One of these was the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), a non-profit organization with close to 400,000 members. Murray and Lillian Morgenthau, who continue to act as Executive Director and President respectively, founded CARP in 1984.
Lillian Morgenthau continually meets with politicians in order to fulfil CARP's mandate, which is "to effectively promote the rights and quality of life of mature Canadians." (Canadian Association of Retired Persons 2001, www.50plus.com). Among other issues, she advocated the establishment of a body of investment experts to manage the Canada Pension Plan's funds, which came to fruition in 1997 with the creation of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Morgenthau explains her philosophy on the influence of older Canadians:
"There's strength in numbers. Yes, it's an old adage, but one that CARP takes very seriously. With a strong membership, CARP is in a position to get the attention of important political decision-makers across the land." (Canadian Association of Retired Persons 2001, www.50plus.com).
Paul Martin (b. 1938) was a Liberal Member of Parliament representing the riding of LaSalle-Émard, Québec, 1988-2002. He was sworn in as Minister of Finance in November 1993.
In the mid-1990's, Canada's public debt and annual deficit peaked at $583 billion and $42 billion respectively. At the same time, concerns grew regarding the sustainability of the public pension system.
As Finance Minister during this period, Paul Martin was instrumental in eliminating the annual deficit, building a surplus, and beginning the reduction of the national debt. He was also a key figure, along with his provincial counterparts, in developing the 1998 changes to the funding of the Canada Pension Plan in order to preserve it for future generations.
"Current evidence indicates that the changes we put in place two years ago will be sufficient to sustain the CPP. Canadians can rest assured that the CPP will continue to provide the retirement pensions and other CPP benefits that they depend on." (Department of Finance Canada news release, Federal-Provincial Review of the Canada Pension Plan (Ottawa, December 9, 1999).