The magic is the longevity insurance, and in many cases, inflation insurance that it provides.I don't think there is anything magical about DB plans.
To replicate the kind of retirement income stream, longevity insurance and inflation indexing that gold-plated DB plans provides, a corresponding private sector worker with a SD RRSP in similar job would have to work much harder, longer, make much more gross income and have a higher % of savings put away each month.
For someone who begins working for the federal govt. in their mid-to-late 20s, is easily able to retire at 55 (or earlier, depending on when they started) with the full force of the govt. pension behind him/her.
The RRSPers are faced with very stiff risks (esp. equity market turmoil) that most RRSPers will not be able to overcome.
The best case scenario for them is hoping they have enough to buy an annuity.
I don't know the going rates of annuities, but I'd imagine that getting an annuity that has the inflation indexing and longevity insurance features of a DB pension at age 55 will be extremely expensive, esp. these days with low interest rates.