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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tory bait and switch…again?

An otherwise positive post-budget experience turned sour yesterday as the impression immerged that the Conservative government—Finance Minister  Jim Flaherty in particular, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper also—is waffling on a promise in the 2011 election campaign to bring in income splitting.

The finance minister seemed less than even lukewarm towards the income splitting idea when questioned by the media following his presentation of the federal budget for 2014. Here’s a quote from the minister as it was reported by the Financial Times:

I think income-splitting needs a long, hard analytical look … by our various think-tanks to see who it affects in society and to what degree.”

What sort of nonsense is this? Income splitting was a central promise in the Conservatives’ 2011 election campaign. Back then we were told how, once the budget was balanced, the Conservative party planned:

to take an historic step forward to achieve greater fairness for families … tax sharing for couples with dependent children under 18 years of age.”

Did the minister not take a “long, hard analytical look ” before making this promise? What’s the minister talking about? Has he decided not “…to achieve greater fairness for families…”?

But, of course, this is would not be the first time the Stephen Harper Conservatives broke faith with its supporters by backtracking on a campaign promise.

Remember Income Trusts, and how seniors across Canada were reassured by the Tories during the 2006 general election that they could count on income trusts for retirement planning?

In 2006 campaign literature, Conservatives pledged that the party would “stop the Liberal attack on retirement savings and preserve income trusts by not imposing any new taxes on them.” The only condition placed on this promise was that the Tories needed to win the election—which, of course, they did.

That was the bait.

In the fall of 2006, however, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that his new government planned to tax income trust distributions.

That, friends, was the switch.

And seniors were left swinging in the wind and several thousand dollars poorer. Oh, the Tories did toss seniors a bone or two, but nothing close to compensating most of them for their financial losses.

Does the term “flimflam” come to mind?

So I ask: Are the Conservatives setting up middle class Canadians for another bait and switch, or is this just the musings of a past-his-best-before-date finance minister?

24 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Harper party as always been smoke and mirrors, just like liberals they will say and do anything to gain power.

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  2. This kind of behaviour will cause them to lose votes, and it is unacceptable. Although the income splitting for families would do nothing for me now, as my children are all adults on their own, it would have been a big help as a single income family with four children. We did manage on our own, but the discrimination against us as a single income family by the tax system stunk. If we truly value the family unit and free choice, allowing income splitting would provide a fair break for single income families. I can say that although this would not affect me now, if they do not stand firm and honour this promise they lose my vote.

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  3. You should read K McParland in today's National Post, it was an eye opener for me on income splitting. We would really be much better off if they slashed the rate on every tax bracket instead, and maybe eliminated the top bracket altogether.

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    1. My point is they specifically promised income splitting. BTW, I would not benefit from income splitting by very much, but Tories have got to start making good on major election promises.

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  4. I at least was glued to cpac channel in those firs several years until we hit majority. I had the sense to not make assumptions of guilt even when I knew members had to be tight lip about something and let the truth break out in due course. I always saw them vindicated weeks or usually months later after the MSM trump things up to their death.

    This is a very one sided post regarding income trust. YOU should very well know better than this.

    They had to back track on that in reaction the the big business stampede that took place to exploit it. Those where liberal big businesses that donated lots of money to their favored party over the years.

    All the cranks moaning about it refuse to see the bigger picture and try to complain woe was me (#1) and let the socialist parties who couldn't care less use them as idiots for their talking points.

    Not voting over singular issues is the same as letting the other side win, only , you lose TWICE. And for nothing. That is not how you change opinion. Especially since that would also depend if your CANDIDATE was for or against whatever. Then its a mark or foul on him during the next primary candidate selection. You don't ditch supporting a party for even a handful of issues let along something like this.

    ALL other parties wouldn't or couldn't do anything different and if they could well then that's a pretty niche policy plank. Things work a lot differently once running a government. Ralph Goodale knew it would happen, and left the political time bomb to make its mess. Hidding it to blow up in another parties face.

    Never mind the other levels of government which directly effect the economy a great deal more and impose the most damage or direct relief..

    What I would like to see is a lot less complaining about deficits and let the federal government take the financial hit it deserves and give it back to the private sector where it would do the most good.

    Only problem is that the other levels would be given credit by the media and keep Ontario socialist (either flavor: liberal nationalist or NDP closet coms) until long after being bailed out of eventual bankruptcy.

    For all that is good & free, and to who ever else reads this, consider the use of actual foresight & discernment so you won't get suckered into writing such tripe. Though the MSM will appreciate REVISITING your talking points, I would of looked forward to seeing them easily debunked, but all this takes away from more serious topics that won't garner the attention it should.

    I'm aware I didn't address either with substantial evidence. I'll pass that off to the right hands who can't seem to defend themselves adequately if they hadn't beat me to it this time.

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  5. There's a lot of sense to the argument that this not the best, or fairest, bang for buck tax cut. Complicated issue. Harper/Flaherty aren't stupid.

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    1. So why did they make the specific promise during the 2011 election campaign? How did this proposal make more sense then--other than the obvious fact that it got them a lot of votes.

      As to your comment: "Harper/Flaherty aren't stupid." You're right, they're not, which makes it a deliberate strategy on their part to make a pledge in the election and switch to something else later.

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  6. HArper promise to never run a deficit. Then he ran the largest deficits in Canadian history. 25% of the debt was put there by Harper. He promised to get rid of gay marriage now he is a supporter. He has only kept a few token promises. The rest is stuff he says to get votes.

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    1. Anon 12:18 AM, show me where PM Harper ever made a promise "to never run a deficit." I'm pretty sure he never did.

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    2. Sure. Here he says it in in the 2008 leader's debate during the election. He was perfectly clear, as he always is:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=211YRbJAwk4

      I am absolutely shocked that a partisan like you does not know such a fundamental promise was made by Harper. Now you know why I think Harper is a joke.

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    3. Here is Harper in his own words he is "unequivocal" that he would never run a deficit. 6 weeks after making this promise he broke it. Fiscal conservatives said nothing and now guys like you say he never promised it. Sheesh.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgHxTpUsTUo

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    4. You are absolutely right, Anon, PM Harper did say pretty clearly that his government would not run a deficit. I just goes to show that even our best politicians cannot be counted on to keep election promises.

      I think you'd admit, though, that running the deficit through the worst recession since the last depression probably saved Canada form economic disaster. PM Harper should have known better than to make a promise he, as an economist, must have known he could not guarantee.

      But, no question, you were right on this point and thanks for the YouTube links.

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  7. As long as there is tax relief for families with dependent kids under 18, doesn't matter what the method. Income splitting or an increase in the monthly child bonus, what ever helps the ones who need it most.

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    1. So, Wilson, does it follow that politicians can promise whatever they think will win them votes and then do something different when elected? That's OK with you?

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  8. I am confused. income splitting is already available. people on pensions have the option of splitting income to help reduce the taxes. this has been available for a few years now.

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    1. Different issue, Anon, the income splitting promised in 2011 is for younger couples with kids (not me) who'd be allowed to split up to $50,000 in regular income.

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  9. "So why did they make the specific promise during the 2011 election campaign? How did this proposal make more sense then--other than the obvious fact that it got them a lot of votes." ~Russ

    That is a worth while argument to make. Given how shaky the political ice was at the time, I think it was that they needed to carefully aim tax reduction in a way that wouldn't just benefit their own base but that "left of center" voters would find acceptable. It's why they didn't lower income taxes and when they did it was 0.5%. They also didn't know what surprises would be in store and didn't want it to appear that lower taxes were to blame for any deficit, as the oppositions would use that against tax reduction. On the flip side, they couldn't cut much either or be painted as the ""ever evil/cold"" "Harris/Eves" conservatives that Left made into bad words. (Hence sweater vests)

    "[..] Tories have got to start making good on major election promises." ~Russ

    I don't see it as a major election promises in terms of content given that there are better alternatives like the Negative Income Tax (by Milton Friedman), but rather a more serious issue of having people plan their lives with an expectation that something is going to happen and then it not.

    More to my point I've made elsewhere is that it would be undone by Ontario and any other province looking for room to expand their taxable reach.

    Like the drops in GST only to have Ontario raise it once it was combined into an HST.
    HST was the way to cut red tape but should of been lowered not raised nor added onto things that were previously not taxed.

    I've said the same on how Ontario used the minimum wage rates to stunt growth and upward mobility of both new and young workers. And how that would also greatly impact the budgets of federal and manciple governments amongst our most populated province. (and ones most prosperous, like when it benefited the Federal Liberals to have PCs doing well allowing the private sector generate wealth.Look throughout the budgets, there is direct correlation.)

    Again, a Negative Income Tax policy would do the trick in relieving all three issues and then some.
    Make no mistake, the Left will now race to discredit such a proposal just as they did to trump up minimum wage as the greatest idea of poverty relief. They relabeled it as ""The Living Wage"", and I reply; "of mediocrity & stagnation".

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  10. I would like to add a bit more after reading through the other comments. Not honouring campaign promises had been the domaine of the Liberal Party. Trudeau won with the promise that he would not hike the gasoline tax like the Tories, and once elected he and his government hiked them far above what the Tories had stated. Again the Liberals promised to eliminate the GST and got elected only to ignore their promise during the campaign. There are too many other examples to cite here, but if the Tories show no more honour than the Liberals concerning their campaign promises, it shows they are no better.

    Secondly it is a documented fact that we do not produce enough children to sustain the existing population, which is the argument given for massive immigration. In fact it has become the equivalent of population replacement in my opinion. I am not anti-immigration but remain opposed to the massive number and poor selection that exist even under a Conservative government. Many families if given the choice would much prefer to have a stay-a-home parent, and income splitting would give them that choice. Until now it was only the hard Left that sought to force all women into the work place, but under the existing taxation system the Tories are guilty of doing the same. Were we duped into believing that they truly supported freedom of choice and the family unit? If they do not honour this promise, I am forced to accept that like many others I was duped.

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  11. "HArper promise to never run a deficit. Then he ran the largest deficits in Canadian history. 25% of the debt was put there by Harper. He promised to get rid of gay marriage now he is a supporter." ~ Anonymous @ February 14, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    I'm not going to school you on basic history, others on Blogging Tories have debunk these comments already even this week.
    Accept for the Gay Marriage as I don't recall it coming up. More to the point, what gay marriage?

    We need not of gotten bogged down into the trenches over it like other nations that have shackled themselves while ignoring actual issues.

    Gay marriage is for less than 3% in Canada and even less in the States., even within groups that share that lifestyle.

    Though I'm against calling it marriage to begin with, it's been a non issue thanks to Harper who saw it as democratic/representative issue that was best left up to a free vote. You should be more concerned with the spread of rape culture and the proliferation of pedophilia. Monogamous gay people is hardly a threat accept the the image of family when they try to tread there.

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  12. we in Ontario need to act this is extremely troubling
    http://workingfamiliesexposed.ca/
    fhl

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    1. Yes, Anon, big unions now have two of the three main Ont. parties in the back pockets. Conservatives need to organize against this.

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  13. I have to admit I missed this column by Christina Blizzard wake up Ontario
    http://blogs.canoe.ca/lilleyspad/politics/column-blizzard-picking-the-pockets-of-hard-working-canadians/

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