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?