The OP said withdrawing at a low tax rate was the idea. When once compares the two choices with this in mind, they are more like plan 1A and plan 1B.
Plan 1A ... which is what was done.
All of the pension money has been withdrawn at or near the lowest tax level, with no RRSP withdrawal fees charged. The temporary setback is losing access to the extra 10% or so withholding tax (i.e. $2240) until the 2016 tax return refunds it.
Plan 1B ... transfer the $15.5K to the RRSP, withdraw the remaining $6.9K that has a 20% withholding tax.
Part of the pension money is withdrawn at or near the lowest tax level, withholding tax is in line with final tax and should the 2017 income also be low, the remainder can be withdrawn from the RRSP but potentially have an RRSP withdrawal fee as well as the withholding tax to pay in 2017.
From the POV of "withdraw at a low rate" - I don't see either option as a bad choice.
The place I see the most risk of a bad choice is to put more money back into the RRSP to get a 20% refund. A charitable donation that exceeds $200 is going to generate a credit at a higher rate than the RRSP.http://www.taxtips.ca/filing/donationstaxcredit.htmThe tax credit for the first $200 of donations is at the lowest personal tax rate (except for Quebec, which uses 20%), and the tax credit for the amount over $200 is at the highest tax rate in 2016 for all provinces and territories except Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario. Alberta has only one tax rate (10%) for calculating income taxes, but uses 21% as the rate for donations over $200. New Brunswick reduced their highest tax rate a few years ago, but did not reduce the rate used for donations over $200. Ontario increased their highest tax rate in 2012, and again in 2013, but still uses the 2011 highest tax rate for donations over $200.
Unless I am missing something (or income is significantly higher than posted so far), IMO the only bad move is to re-contribute to the RRSP.