Jim Flaherty will not go quietly

The sketch: Let a thousand income splitting white papers bloom

by Aaron Wherry

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

So however much longer he is Finance Minister and however often he Finance Minister stands in Question Period, Jim Flaherty will not go quietly.

It was this morning that Jim Flaherty opined openly that the idea of allowing for the splitting of incomes between spouses for the purposes of paying income tax was in need of a “a long, hard analytical look … to see who it affects in this society and to what degree.” He confessed that he was “not sure that overall it benefits our society.” This much just a few days after he told a television camera that “I think in the next year it will be healthy for Canada to have a fulsome discussion about that issue.”

Let us allow here that there is nothing particularly unreasonable in any of that. Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of the policy proposal in question, analysis and discussion are basically good things and the implementation of public policy should surely be preceded by such stuff. Let a thousand white papers bloom and may God bless us with a few economists to run the numbers.

All of which is only complicated in this particular case by the fact that three years ago Stephen Harper announced income-splitting as being among the priorities of a re-elected Conservative government, that the policy was said to “make the income tax system fairer,” that the Family Tax Cut™ was thus booked in the Conservative party platform at a cost of $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2015-2016 (just about half of the surplus the Conservatives then projected for that year), and that Jim Flaherty is the Finance Minister in the re-elected Conservative government that has Stephen Harper as its leader.

Thus was the peanut gallery excited and intrigued. And thus did Question Period begin with the inevitable attempt to exploit this distinction between Mr. Harper then and Mr. Flaherty now.

“Mr. Speaker, there were some interesting criticisms this morning from the finance minister about the Prime Minister’s plan for income splitting,” Thomas Mulcair helpfully reported for those just tuning in. “Does the Prime Minister agree with his finance minister that the Conservative plan is of no help to the vast majority of Canadian families?”

The Prime Minister first sought comfort in a different policy.

“Mr. Speaker, this is the finance minister and this is the government, against the wishes of opposition members, that brought in income splitting for our senior citizens, something from which they benefit every day and every year,” he reminded everyone.

The Conservatives applauded themselves.

“This government, in the last election, made a commitment that when we balance the budget … one of the highest priorities of this government will be tax reduction for Canadian families,” he vaguely recalled. “I know that their plans would be tax hikes on Canadian families, but we believe in this party we should cut taxes for Canadian families.”

In his seat, Mr. Flaherty nodded.

There was not actually an answer to the question here, but Mr. Mulcair moved on nonetheless.

Mr. Harper would take five questions from Mr. Mulcair, then three from Justin Trudeau and then four more from Mr. Mulcair.

It was then that NDP finance critic Peggy Nash stood and seemed to put a question that might’ve gone to the finance minister, but it was Mr. Harper who stood. A second question from Ms. Nash and again Mr. Harper was up. Mr. Harper would take another New Democrat’s question, then three that might’ve gone to the Defence Minister, then three from the Liberals on the budget. After 20 questions, he finally deferred, leaving Jason Kenney to handle a query about skills development and federal-provincial relations.

It was lovely to hear so much from the Prime Minister and he seemed to be enjoying himself and possibly this was nothing more than a curious or coincidental approach to Question Period (there was this misplay in the fall), but thus was the peanut gallery rife with speculation.

The Finance Minister would eventually stand to handle a question from Liberal Judy Sgro about transfer payments to Ontario, only managing a joke about having not heard Mike Harris’ name in awhile before the Speaker decided his time was up, and later still, the Liberals would send up John McCallum to directly challenge the Finance Minister.

“Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has answered only one question on the budget, and he barely answered that,” Mr. McCallum complained. “I wonder if he would mind standing in his place and explaining to the House what his position is on income splitting?”

Mr. Flaherty stood here and the opposition benches mocked—”Ohh!” they cried—and the Conservatives responded with a standing ovation (of which, for the record, Mr. Harper participated).

“Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member for Markham—Unionville that I am standing in my place,” Mr. Flaherty reported.

The House was now quiet as the Finance Minister proceeded.

“The budget is not balanced yet, as he may have noted yesterday. We hope and we expect that it will be balanced next year,” he explained. “We remain committed to tax relief for Canadian families.”

After Question Period, for the record, Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty would appear to share a friendly exchange (possibly even a chuckle), still in their seats for a moment while the House moved on to other business.

A short while after, Mr. Flaherty passed through the foyer, at least long enough to get to the stairs and thus just long enough to be caught by the loitering hordes. He reported to reporters what he had just said in the House and then he turned and slowly shuffled up the stairs as reporters shouted questions after him. He seemed to smile as he turned to go up the second flight.

Whatever the future in particular holds for the minister and the policy, perhaps we can hope the future generally includes more hard, analytical looks and fulsome discussions.




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Jim Flaherty will not go quietly

  1. I, for one, will be interested to see how the government uses language skills to reconcile this apparent divergence of policy within cabinet and to convince Canadians that this strategic campaign pledge is good for Canada. And if the government decides that it’s not good for Canada after all it will be interesting to see how they convince us they haven’t sacrificed ideology to pragmatism.

    • Harper and his two loyal lieutenants, neither of whom is a likely leadership candidate (people suspect Kenney wants to be a kingmaker, not a king) stage a little battle theatre about how to best cut taxes on middle class families 18 months before the election.

      Harper is stealing the public political narrative back from the MSM and the Opposition. Harper wants the narrative on cutting taxes for middle class familites, which will emphasize the fact that the Liberals and the NDP and the MSM are all opposed to cutting taxes on middle class families,

      And away from his political problems of the last year…i.e. the Senate, military spending problems,

      And Harper wants to emphasize that the Conservatives are for tax cuts for middle class families before a Trudeau Liberal policy convention dominated by discussion of legal pot and legal brothels.

      Harper saw how the MSM reacted to the Flahery/Kenney spat over Rob Ford and decided a little internal Conservative battle about how to best cut taxes on middle class families between the two would be the hottest news and dominant news narrative. The Conservative are going to cut taxes on middle class families with children somehow. Arguing about how makes clear the difference that the Liberals and NDP are opposed to doing that, regardless of how.

      • Heh. Well I give you points for staying on topic, unlike some of the other regular conservatives here who apparently do not share your opinion that this is part of Harper’s master plan and instead come here to try to deflect and change the topic.

        Next I guess I give you points for your unwavering support for your party. For what it is worth, I have a hard time seeing how it benefits the conservatives to fuel the rumours of a growing rift in the party, and in particular, rumours that Kenny is out to steal the throne from Harper. But I guess stranger things have happened.

      • Mmmmm . . . I love pretzels!

        • Tacos rule.

      • Fail

      • “we’ll support a bad idea for seven years, yell at the first guy in our caucus to point out its a bad idea, then reverse ourselves at the very last minute! Remember when Stockwell Day supported then ran away from a flat tax? People LOVED that! We have 2015 in the bag!”

      • Hehe. Notice how everybody, including the NDP in the HoC, seem to be debating a policy that won’t even be tabled for a year yet? I wouldn’t be surprised if Harper hadn’t also come to the conclusion that there were better ways to spend the money, and now he’s just playing games with the opposition and the press. Let them spend a few months opposing a policy that will never come to fruition, and then propose a significant income tax reduction for everybody come election time and watch the NDP scramble.

        Chess vs. Checkers.

        • it’s not like “job killing carbon tax” made an impression long after it’s best before date.

  2. Jim Flaherty: “Meh…income trusts, income splitting…whatever…s’all good.”

  3. Let’s hope Flaherty does do some home work on income splitting – with an eye to simple tax justice .
    Even the CD Howe Institute points out that it unfair and helps only the wealthiest.

    • helps MAINLY the welathiest. there are some situations where it can help the middle earners and even some poorer people, but it scales up pretty quickly in favour of the more $ you have and less your spouse has.

      • Yes, it does. But I see no reason why those who pay the highest taxes shouldn’t also see the greatest amount of relief from such a policy. This policy isn’t about tax relief for the poor, it’s entirely about taxing families with the same income at the same rate, ie. tax fairness. It’s not fair that one family where 1 family member makes $100,000/yr pays taxes at a higher rate than a family where 2 members each make $50,000/yr.

        • Depends on how you define “fair” – do you factor in the savings accrued by having only one spouse go out to work while the other looks after the kids? No daycare; smaller fuel bills; possibly one less vehicle…

          It costs more for a two-income family to generate that $100,000 than it does for the single-earner to do so.

          So basically, income splitting is saying “We want to reward the old fashioned, traditional family unit for maintaining our mid-last-century family values.”

          • and you double the personal deduction – $20,000 for two people rather than the single rate.

          • Both have the $20,000 deduction to begin with. One doesn’t lose it simply because they get married. My example was 2 people working at $50k/yr, but it could just as easily (in fact, more likley) be 1 working for $30k/yr and the other working for $70k/yr.

          • So what if one family saves more money? That’s got nothing to do with how the government should tax them. If one family saves money by eating Kraft Dinner every night, should the government tax them more? Driving a hybrid saves the owner money, should Hybrids be taxed at a higher rate because of it? Again, this boils down to tax fairness, not some massive government attempt to make sure that everybody has exactly the same amount of disposable income.

            And it’s not like it only applies to families where one spouse doesn’t work at all. There are families where one spouse goes out and works a full-time job during the day, and the other goes and works part time in the evenings when the day-worker is home to look after the kids.

          • If the wealthy want more money, send the second spouse to work like the rest of society has to.

          • It’s amazing what you lefties consider “wealthy”. This policy would affect any family where one spouse makes more than $43,954. That’s hardly “wealthy”.

          • Well, it’s hardly helping the poor… and $100,000, per your original example, is not rich, but is much better off than most.

          • Tax relief can’t help the poor, because the poor don’t pay taxes.

          • Spin it any way you want Rick – income splitting is a targeted tax relief measure aimed directly at the core Conservative base; a nice handout to their supporters with little regard for those who genuinely need the help.

            And on that note, I’m done on this thread. See you on another one!

          • There are families where one spouse goes out and works a full-time job during the day, and the other goes and works part time in the evenings when the day-worker is home to look after the kids.

            Uh huh… and that makes for a fine family environment, doesn’t it? Glad to see the CPC is so family-friendly.

          • So basically, income splitting is saying “We want to reward the old fashioned, traditional family unit for maintaining our mid-last-century family values.”

            This is completely bat-$hit crazy on your part. It’s not “rewarding” them, it’s not punishing families for wanting to raise their own children.

            Would you actually have something against the government promoting families to raise their own children, instead of sending them off to daycare?

          • Would you actually have something against a proper tax break or subsidy for two-income families with kids who are having a hard time making ends met because daycare is eating up a substantial portion of one of their salaries?

            There are plenty more people who need the break more – but this government doesn’t seem to care too much about their situations. Which is odd because the CPC seems so concerned about immigration – but one way to reduce our need for immigrants would be to provide incentives (rather than disincentives) for having bigger families.

            So how about a plan that benefits a larger number of people, and the country as a whole, rather than a group cherry-picked because they tend to vote CPC?

          • This is not about about tax reduction, it’s about tax fairness. I’m sure the CPC will be proposing other tax relief for the country, there can be more than one modification made to taxes you know. There will always be people that need a taxbreak “more” than any other given group. But the government’s job is to govern for all Canadians. And the tax code should be as fair as possible to everybody.

        • But I see no reason why those who pay the highest taxes shouldn’t also see the greatest amount of relief from such a policy.

          ***

          The term is called “diminishing utility of money”

          • It’s contradictory to say those who pay the highest taxes should get the biggest tax breaks. Tax policy needs to balance having people pay according to what they can afford and the need to avoid extremes of income inequality against the need not to tax so much as to kill incentive to earn more. The fact that a person presently doesn’t get a special tax break because he/she can afford to have a spouse at home or working part time when they have a child, often minimizing or eliminating child care and other costs doesn’t sound like much of a killer of that person’s incentive to keep earning. The main effect of the proposal on incentive is probably to discourage the lower income earner in a couple, usually the woman, from working outside the home.

  4. Sounds like he feels tired, and fed up and doesn’t care anymore.

  5. I’m not sure why we even worry about what Flaherty does. The budget will balance itself.

    • Y’might wanna expand on that.

      • Same reason it would have balanced itself when Martin was finance minister for the Liberals. If you have 2% inflation a year but the debt is growing at less than 2% per year, then the budget will eventually balance itself just through the passage of time, just because of the devaluation of money.

        That’s what’s happening now. Flaherty is doing nothing much of anything. All those little cuts the Liberals made in the 90s and the Conservatives are making now amount to almost nothing in the grand scheme of things.

        • In the grand scheme of things, nothing matters.

        • If you have 2% inflation a year but the debt is growing at less than 2% per year, then the budget will eventually balance itself just through the passage of time, just because of the devaluation of money.

          The debt and the deficit are two different things. “Balancing the budget” doesn’t mean paying off our debt, it means eliminating the deficit. Paying off our debt is something else entirely.

          I suppose that if some of the money that the government was taking in was directed at the debt, and the rate of inflation remained higher than the rate of debt growth, then the money you were taking in might eventually pay off the debt. However, the government’s revenues aren’t going to pay off the debt, because the government is in deficit. They’re spending more money than they take in. So long as government expenses are higher than government revenue the relative rate of increase of inflation and the debt is immaterial to balancing the budget. This year, the government figures they’ll spend about $18 billion more than the take in. If $18 billion more is going out than is coming in, that’s not something that the passage of time alone will fix.

          Think of it as though the government were a person. That person has $50,000 in credit card debt, and makes $100,000 a year. IF that person can pay their expenses, and simultaneously put just a TINY amount more on their credit card bill than the amount that would keep the credit card debt at the same level (let’s say just 1 cent more than they need to tread water) then yes, eventually, time alone will pay off that credit card debt. However, that’s NOT the case for the person who’s running a budget deficit. If your income is $100,000 a year, and your non credit card related expenses are $120,000, time alone is not going to help you pay off your credit card bill. You have to get your other expenses below the level of your income before you can start tackling your credit card debt. That’s where the government is now. The government is the person sending just enough money to VISA to keep them from coming after them, while simultaneously spending more money in a year than they make in a year.

          • I understand that. That’s why I said “debt is growing at less than 2% per year”. In otherwords, if the total debtload for next year is going to be 1.02 times the debtload for this year or less, and inflation will increase prices by 1.02 times or more than they were this year, then the deficit will slowly shrink until it disappears. It’s just basic math. The Cons and the Liberals have for 2 decades relied on the fact that people can’t even do basic division and multiplication.

            That’s one of the reasons fait monetary systems have been so favoured in the past half century. In the past, using standards based currency systems, if a government overspent it fell, period. Now, because of fiat currency systems and built in depreciation of money, running a constant deficit is no longer the death knell that it use to be.

          • Again, you seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding both the relationship between the debt and inflation, and the relationship between the debt and the deficit.

            I’ll grant you that if the debt is rising slower than the rate of inflation (and I’m not certain that it is) then that’s much better than if it’s rising faster than the rate of inflation.

            Nonetheless, in both cases, the debt is RISING. As in, getting bigger.

            Growing slower than inflation isn’t shrinking, it’s growing slower than inflation. Now, I’ll also grant you that if you project that out FAR in to the future, and it keeps growing slower than inflation, then at some point, FAAAAR in the future, after we’re all dead, while the total dollar amount of the debt will be much higher than it is today, inflation will have caused that larger dollar amount to seem relatively small compared to the value (purchasing power, really) of the dollar. It’s the same phenomenon that leads to the fact that if you gave a kid 5 cents in 1910 he’d be thrilled, ’cause he could go buy a lot of candy with it, but if you gave a kid 25 cents today he’d spit in your face for being unconscionably cheap. 25 cents is more than 5 cents, but due to inflation it seems like a lot less.

            The problem is, we’re not talking about candy money here. The debt is currently $679 billion dollars and rising. The interest we owe on the debt increased about $5,500 in the ten seconds it took me to write this sentence. And, again, a rising debt is a RISING DEBT, whether or not it’s rising slower than inflation. The impact of that debt vis a vis inflated prices may decline over a long timeline, such that the debt, while higher, is nonetheless less meaningful in the context of the economy (just as a quarter is more than a nickel, but it nonetheless buys less candy than a nickel did back in the day). 25 cents is still HIGHER than 5 cents though, that wasn’t “shrinking” it was “growth”, but it’s true that the relative impact of the coin on your bottom line is less.

            So, I suppose I’ll grant you that it’s theoretically possible that IF the debt is growing slower than inflation, and IF this continues indefinitely, and IF we don’t continue to increase spending and/or if revenues don’t fall, then, while eventually the debt might hit, say, $4 trillion, it might not matter, because some day, if all of those scenarios hold, $4 trillion won’t be enough to buy any candy at the corner store. It won’t have “disappeared” exactly. We’ll still owe trillions of dollars in debt. It’s just that in that scenario, far enough out in time, a trillion dollars just won’t be what it used to be.

            That said, it’s probably not a great strategy to let the debt get to that point naturally, without any intervention, as I’d imagine that it wouldn’t get to that point until my great, great, great, great, great grandchildren are all dead.

      • That’s quite the dumb comment, eh Emily…. “the budget will balance itself”? What kind of moron would think a task that has plagued all governments with the inherent goal of fiscal responsibility, would just simply….happen on its own?

        • I asked him to expand on it….because I have no idea what he thinks. He’s Con.

      • Apparently Justin Trudeau made a statement to media on Tuesday that included the words “the budget will balance itself.” I think that john g was poking a stick in the eye of Liberal supporters.

        • Ahhh okay, thanks. I hadn’t heard that.

          Maybe Justin was paraphrasing Andrew Coyne….I read his comment this morning.

          “The budget is already, to all intents and purposes, balanced: whether it comes in a couple of billion dollars above or below the red line, in a $2-trillion economy, is immaterial”

          • Ahhh okay, thanks. I hadn’t heard that.

            Nice work once again, “Parliamentary Reporter” Wherry.

          • This isn’t a news site john g….it’s a blog. And I didn’t see that item anywhere else either. Probably because it isn’t news…. only a partial quote.

            If this is how you guys think you’ll beat Trudeau……

          • Please do not rain on John’s pity parade. If he cannot resort to playing the victim every time he does not like the news, then he will have to face the reality that his party is being criticized because they are actually doing stuff that merits criticism. On the other side of that coin, Trudeau gets positive press for doing positive things.

            Don’t confuse things with facts Emily. John cannot handle facts.

            PS – the out of context quote John is referring to has been reported in the one place where he finds solace and comfort – Sun news.

          • Well, things are getting bad for Cons….and when that happens, they get nasty. Vicious even… if you’ve seen this place in the last couple of weeks….

            I’ve given up on the lot of them. The level of lying and ignorance is beyond the pale.

          • This isn’t a news site john g….it’s a blog. And I didn’t see that item anywhere else either.

            https://twitter.com/AaronWherry

          • I don’t follow Twitter….but I didn’t see it on there either.

            Face it john….it’s not news. It’s a partial quote….a Con lie in fact

          • I think John is whining about the fact Wherry did not post the Sun’s edited version of Trudeau’s comment on twitter.

          • Ahhh now I’m supposed to guess at john’s meaning…..sigh

          • You two are hilarious.

            Emily said she’s never seen the term “Parliamentary Reporter”. I point her to Wherry’s twitter page where it’s in his bio. Emily and Gayle pretend not to see it and “wonder” what I’m talking about.

            And *I’m* the one distorting things.

          • I believe she was saying she never say the reference to Trudeau’s statement anywhere else. Hence the use of the term “item”…

            And yes, you are the one distorting things, though to be fair you are only quoting the Sun…

          • john…..go have a coffee….and slap yourself with some aquavelva if you have to.

            I didn’t say I’d never seen the term….I said THIS is a blog. And I said no one else had reported this Trudeau phrase you’re so worked up about.

            And YOU are distorting things by pretending a partial quote is a news item in the first place.

          • There’s something about an Aqua Velva man …

          • LOL yup, he wakes up!

          • Great, thanks! I’ll have THAT running through my head for the rest of the afternoon! :-)

          • If only Wherry was as willing as the Sun to distort Trudeau’s statements.

        • We eventually figured that out, Rick.

    • To be fair, Trudeau’s point was that the budget would “balance itself” IF WE GROW THE ECONOMY SUFFICIENTLY. He wasn’t saying that if we just do nothing, eventually the deficit monster won’t be hungry anymore; he was saying that if we make a bigger pie, the deficit monster will eventually get enough to eat to stop being hungry.

      A tortured metaphor, I know! :-)

      My point is simply that Trudeau’s comment may have been simplistic, and rather obvious, but it only looks really STUPID if you quote the words “the budget will balance itself” and leave out the words “if we grow the economy”. Quoting half of the line makes it sound as though Trudeau was saying that if we do nothing, eventually the deficit will just grow bored with being ignored and leave of it’s own accord. When you put the quote in context it’s clear that he was saying that if we generate more revenue (by growing the economy) then the current imbalance between revenues and spending will go away eventually.

      • Come on LKO. I expect that kind of idiocy from Trudeau. I expect better from a random commenter on a blog.

        If you spend like an idiot and your spending outgrows revenues, good economy or not, the budget doesn’t “balance itself”.

        • And it took 8 years for the Conservatives to figure that out.

        • Key phrase… ‘and your spending outgrows revenues’

          In a ‘good economy’….spending never outgrows revenues.

          Cons are always so afraid of debt….but they never think of income

          Debt isn’t in the least harmful….it’s a legitimate financial tool…..as long as you can pay it off. And Canada is a $2-trillion economy.

          • In a ‘good economy’….spending never outgrows revenues.

            *facepalm*

          • LOL Don’t hurt yourself john….just up your income. It’s not rocket science. And it’s not your kitchen table either.

          • But isn’t that the orthodox thinking of Conservative parties today? They like to lower taxes. Why? Because it’ll spur the economy. But won’t lowering taxes reduce revenue? Nope, because the economy will be humming (‘good’) thanks to the tax cuts, so tax revenue will actually go up. Hence, in a good economy, spending never (or at least shouldn’t) outgrows revenue.

          • I have no idea how you made the leap to the last line in your analysis. It’s out of left field.

            Again…if as government you spend frivolously on things that you can’t pay for…for the sake of example let’s say a free day care plan for everybody, or free dental coverage for everybody, or spending like the US does on the military…you won’t have balanced budget, no matter how good your economy is. Balancing a budget requires controlling impulses to spend beyond your revenues. I don’t get the sense that impulse control is one of JT’s strengths.

            About all we can agree on is that all things being equal a better economy will generally mean more government revenue. Taking that to say the budget will simply balance itself? Utter hogwash.

          • Oh dear god. Well, she is a Justin supporter, so birds of a feather. I’ve posted the clip of Justin saying it, below, or as Justin’s supporters call the actual clip of Justin saying it: a “lie”. Yeah, the US massive debt, notwithstanding massive and extended periods of growth (and in most other countries) – that’s all the result of “hocus pocus” that Justin will make go away, by his sheer good looks.
            And promising that the government will pay to raise Canadians’ children through universal childcare….the unicorns will pay for that, so it wont affect the expense side of the ledger.

          • Pity this blog isn’t a out JT. Well played Biffer. You got everyone looking elsewhere once again.

          • Definitely need to add “and with a government that knows what it’s doing”… and that’s often in doubt no matter the party in charge.

          • She forgot the “roaring 80s” apparently, when economic growth was strong, but debt growth was stronger.

        • If you spend more than you take in you’ll have a deficit, sure. However, if you increase revenues to the point that they exceed spending, then the deficit will go away.

          As I said, what Trudeau said may be an overly simplistic way of stating it, but it’s also axiomatically true.

          • How detailed do you get when you are looking for a sound bite? I think if Canadians wanted detailed statements of policy they never would have voted for Harper in the first place.

          • And making growth exceed spending is so easy yet countries can’t seem to make that just “happen”.
            In Justin’s magical world, he can avoid the messy decisions about what to cut or limit, and can pretend plans to have the government spend to raise all our children through “universal” child care, will be fine, because of….growth.
            The best part is we don’t even have to worry about deficits, because growth will skyrocket you see.

          • I think you’re reading too much in to Trudeau’s 13 word throw away line. If the economy grows, and revenues increase, the deficit will be lessened. It’s a truism. I’d bet I can find clips of Steven Harper and Jim Flaherty saying essentially the exact same thing. Does spending need to be kept in check too? Of course, but is Deficit Jim and his team REALLY going to lecture ANYONE about the need to keep spending under control???

            It’s as though Trudeau said “grass is green” out loud, and is now being pilloried for not having presented a 12 point plan on how to keep the grass green. He didn’t even mention water, or sunlight, or fertilizer for Pete’s sake! In Trudeau’s magical world of unicorns, grass is just green! Like fairies make it happen! What kind of idiot would ever say “grass is green” out loud. What makes him think grass is green??? Lightweight.

          • You may listening to what biff is saying a little too closely? As in expecting it to have a rational purpose beyond saying JT sucks big time? It’s like arguing with the speaking clock. All you’re going to find out is Trudeau is either saying too much, or not enough. But you’ll rarely if ever get the correct time.

          • “I think you’re reading too much in to Trudeau’s 13 word throw away line.”

            He is well aware he is distorting the truth. That is what he does.

          • And “growth” will be so easy when small businesses are taxed to the hilt to pay for such boondoggles. Governance by unicorns.

          • Evidence for that comment…sigh

          • Sure, what he said was true. It’s just simplistic to the point of being meaningless. If he’d followed that statement up with some sort of plan on how he’d grow the economy, then it might have had some meaning. But as it stands his policy to balance the budget might as well be to spend less than the government takes in. Which has all the intelligence of a 6th grade economics class.

          • Isn’t “spend less than the government takes in” the Tory plan to tackle the deficit? And isn’t their only problem, you know, doing that?

          • Yes, but the Tories have plans to achieve that goal, which is sort of the entire point. Anybody can claim to balance the budget by balancing the budget. Only that type of plan is meaningless and lacks any credibility.

          • I’m sure that Trudeau is just as capable of not buying stuff that the Tories promised to buy as the Tories are.

          • Why? All I’ve heard from him are spending promises. I haven’t heard him mention finding one single efficiency.

          • What efficiencies? The Tories have been in power for 7 years, almost 3 of them with a majority, during difficult economic times. You’re telling me there are still efficiencies to be found? #fail.

            ;-)

        • it’s totally legitimate to criticize JT if he can’t talk about what measures he plans to use to grow the available pool of $ or can’t point to factors which will grow said pool.

          but pretending he just said something he didn’t is absurd.

          • Except that he did say it. He hasn’t pointed to any measures that he would implement to grow the economy, except somehow magically growing the economy through legal marijuana.

          • pretending he just said something he didn’t is absurd.

            So is pretending that he didn’t say something which he is caught on video saying.

          • It’s the Liberal way. Ignatieff had written pages upon pages of things that the Liberals spent tonnes of time denying he’d either written, or when proven he had written, they then claimed he didn’t really mean it.

            The Liberals used to be able to get away with saying one thing to appease a small group of people, knowing it wouldn’t be widely reported and thus wouldn’t offend the masses. They still haven’t figured out that those days are long gone.

          • How would you know? It takes at least a semblance of reading and comprehension proficiency to read anything MI wrote, much less grasp his meaning in any kind of context.

          • Right, everybody is just too stupid to understand the brilliance of double-speaking Liberals.

          • “…Right, everybody is just too stupid…”

            And right on cue, stupie provides another data point supporting kcm2′s point.
            Oh, the humanity!

          • Thanks for yet another of your invaluable contributions to the conversation. I’m sure your a lot of fun at dinner parties.

          • You’re welcome.
            But, I think you’d be even more grateful if you’d just take my advice and find an adult learning program in your area.
            It’s the same advice I’d offer you at a dinner party if, you were unable to distinguish “you” from “everybody”.
            Do you really never get that?
            I guess you’ve gotten used to the strange looks.

          • Nope, not everyone. Just the conbots who can’t keep up like you.

      • Mulroney said the same thing….the debt interest was eating us alive, and we had to outgrow it…..so Mulroney signed the FTA

        • And implemented the GST. Both of which are largely responsible for balancing the budgets in the 90′s, with the addition of the deep cuts to provincial transfers.

          Glad to see you’re finally letting go of the myth that Liberal economic genius was entirely responsible for the balanced budgets of the late 90s.

          • LOL no, he renamed and lowered the MST.

            C’mon, you could at least TRY and be accurate on Mulroney.

          • The GST is not simply a renamed and lowered MST. They are two entirely different taxes. The GST is a VAT. The MST was a brutal tax on domestic production – the worst possible tax we could have had. The ONLY thing they have in common is that the GST replaced the MST. Even for you, this is a ghastly misrepresentation.

          • Glad to see your lone endearing habit – that of posting links that refute your own argument while reinforcing the other person’s – is still intact. The first paragraph says the GST replaced the MST, which was a tax on manufactured goods – precisely what Donny said.

            Other than that, the MST has nothing in common with the GST. For example, the MST was not a value added tax, and it was not applied to services, only goods. Then again, your memory of the early 90s is hazy on a number of fronts, as we witnessed recently.

          • Do your research please. What were you saying about being simplistic?( trudeau’s an Einstein compared to the like of you) Mulroney also claimed the gst would be revenue neutral. Only later did he claim he planted the garden, the liberals picked the flowers. Neither party fully realized the power of a consumption tax like the gst, but it was the liberals who finally caught on. And Harper hasn’t realized it yet. Which is no great surprise as everything has to have a political upside before he’ll do it.

          • Okay, gotcha. The GST that Mulroney implemented was bad, until it was the Liberals overseeing it, then it magically became good.

            Whatever.

          • Tell me, how many years did you spend in grade 6 reading comprehension remedial? Cuz it wasn’t anywhere near long enough. For anyone else I’d got fetch the quote from Brian, but since its you…

          • Right, it’s always someone else’s fault that what you say makes no sense.

          • Certainly it would never occur to you its yours..

          • I’ve always viewed that GST episode as “the Liberals thought Mulroney was wrong, and then they realized he was right and reversed course”.

  6. What is more sad and pathetic?
    That one who seeks to lead this great land is so dimwitted and devoid of intellect, so engrossed in a child-like ignorance that his public position on the very difficult subject of balancing the budgets is that “the budget will balance itself”….or…
    a corrupt media that willfully withholds this gross display of ignorance to cover for “their man”?
    A difficult call to be sure.
    Now, let us continue with spitting hairs and scrutinizing the CPC’s position with a magnifying glass.

    • Outside of the put-on disgust and a bunch of redundant talking points the NDP and Liberals added nothing to the budget debate. I see no viable alternative financial plan from either party.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • This comment was deleted.

          • He’s been following you around for awhile eh? Weird. These threads just creep me out sometimes. I don’t know what Macleans and child porn have in common, but it could be he’s just a man of varied interests.

          • Funny, I thought it was a lovers quarrel

          • Oh you think so maggot???

          • This is a sick puppy he has been kicked off at least 60 sites for overly sexual comments, Notice he is using the guest option to post he was kicked off Macleans under his original user name a year ago.. Likely will change my user name shortly to rid myself of the freak

          • Don’t listen to him Raging Ranter. That liberal maggot is using my account

          • I don’t know what is going on. I got a new account Raging Ranter. That should fix him

          • Projecting a bit Bryan?

          • Brian’s comment is pretty funny if you think of it. He complains about a certain type of troll then lives out the description. The part about creating lies about other’s lives and then doing the exact thing is almost genius political parody.

            Seriously Brian, if that was intentional thanks. It was awesome

          • Changing my user name to rid myself of worthless child molesting sloths see ya Maggots

          • Do you attack everyone Brian?

          • Only maggots!

    • The most pathetic one is he who posts his lies and paranoid delusions because he has realized the ONLY way his party of choice is going to regain momentum is through lies and paranoid delusions.

  7. straight income splitting would allow high income earners that are married to shelter their income from marginal rates, effectively penalizing earners who are single for being single. they should just split the difference: allow single income, two adults with children households to double the personal exemption, and then tax the rest like normal. then they could put the difference to lowering the lowest marginal income tax rate or increasing the personal exemption, which lowers taxes for every single income tax payer.

    • As a matter of fact that’s already in place and has been for a long time. It’s called the “equivalent to married exemption” whereby a single parent can nominate one of their children as their partner for the purpose of claiming basic personal exemptions.

      • is this only available to single parent families? if so, extending it to every single income family, whether two parent or single parent, would be a good compromise position that gives tax relief and fairness to families, while preventing high income tax sheltering.

    • First of all, all the policy only affects married couples with children. It leaves everybody else alone. Just because the government offers a bit of tax relief to married couples, does not mean that it’s “penalizing” everybody else. It would only be penalty if everybody elses taxes went up, which their not.

      Secondly, the policy is entirely about tax fairness. Currently you can have two identical families that both earn $100,000/yr, but one will pay a higher tax rate than the other simply because the one family has 1 person working while the other has 2.

      If you want to make the case that families should be punished for having a single earner instead of dual incomes, go for it.

  8. Funny that Flaherty didn’t take a ” long, hard analytical look … to see who it affects in this society and to what degree” when he killed income trusts back in 2006, after being elected six months previously on a platform of “preserve income trusts by not imposing any new taxes on them”. Instead Flaherty destroyed an essential retirement income savings vehicle for the 75% of Canadians without a workplace pension and by CAVING to the interests of CEOs and lobbyists for the life insurance industry who were served by killing income trusts for their own narrow interests. Meanwhile Flaherty promoted his patent lie that “income trusts cause tax leakage”, which all reputable analysts have proven to be false (Royal Bank, BMO, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, HLB Decision Economics, etc.) Instead Flaherty’s reckless and hasty decision lead to a wave of foreign takeovers of Canadian businesses formed as trusts (eg Prime West Energy trust taken over by Abu Dhabi Energy) amounting to over $100 billion in takeovers that created REAL TAX LEAKAGE, to the tune of $1.2 billion a year. To learn more about Flaherty’s gross incompetence Google the article by Professor Stanbury entitled “Leadership? Here’s Ten Reasons Why the Tax on Income Trusts Was a Public Policy “Train Wreck”

    Flaherty’s only reason for opposing income splitting is for his own legacy concerns. Flaherty is hell bent on leaving his post as Finance Minister with a budget surplus in that year. Meanwhile he expects that we will all overlook the $176.4 BILLION in debt that Flaherty has burdened all Canadians with, during his 6 years of fiscal recklessness and incompetence.

  9. Well I see the usual suspects have come here to change the subject again.

    Seems to me this story is about two things; the merit (or lack thereof) of income splitting, and the growing rift in the conservative party.

    Now if I were a conservative I would be more concerned about the second thing. Deciding against income splitting is a good policy change – even though Harper is never going to admit the initial idea was bad. Taking a hard analytical look at policy would be a nice change for this government.

    The fact that neither Kenny nor Flaherty seem to be afraid of making their split public knowledge gives us a sign of how Harper’s personal failures as a leader, his personal dive in the opinion polls, may be affected his hold over the party.

    • whereas if this was happening in the Liberal party, it would be a sign of working together with frank discussion on the merits of a policy and consensus building.

      • Are you actually suggesting the media do not cover dissension in the liberal ranks?

        ‘Cuz I see to recall a lot of coverage on Chretien v Martin, Dion v Ignatieff etc etc.

  10. Here’s the clip of Trudeau’s magical thinking on balancing the budgets:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP8b-TEiAsg

    Gee, if an economy is growing we don’t have to worry about it. It will just “happen”. I guess he hasn’t noticed that deficits routinely accompany growth periods in our country and elsewhere (look at the US debt notwithstanding massive periods of sustained growth).

    We should explain the elementary to the young Justin, for he hasn’t learned economics on the ski slopes:

    Deficits arise from expenses exceeding revenues. Get that Justin? Increasing revenue from an expanding economy is just dandy, but if the Government still spends too much there will be deficits. Justin, here’s the crazy thing about cutting spending: it involves real choices that are hard. Cutting unicorns won’t work. Here’s another thing: massive new entitlement programs that you tout: like Universal childcare, yeah that’ll cost some money. Those promises that make, to have the government pay for the raising of Canadians’ children? They will put a kink in the budget just balancing on its own.

    Reported by the Sun and a local Kenora paper. The disgrace of the media continues apace.

    • Also a point of clarification: if Justin supporters label something Justin says a “sound byte” it means that all should pretend Justin didn’t say it.
      What’s also hilarious is the morphing of the defense of Justin: the denial, to the attempt to suggest he is right. Then when confronted by the obvious ridiculousness that growth makes deficits go away, they proceed with the inevitable declarations that Justin’s detractors should “shut up”.
      BTW had Sarah Palin said something this dumb, there would have been a 48 continuous news loop on it, with experts brought on to examine just how child-like it was. Justin? Yeah, there’s the Sun and a local Kenora paper on it.
      The media sinking aboard the SS Trudeau.

      • That’s the best you have…JT said something rather obvious in simplistic broad terms. You think that’s some kind of scoop by a trail blazing small town paper and scum news? For gods same, even they couldn’t be bothered to ask a follow up!
        Your capacity for self pity and evil media conspiracy knows no bounds.

        • Yes, Trudeau’s economic policies seem to get more and more simplistic every day. I wonder where his “economic guru” Chrystia Freeland is?

          I’m looking forward to Trudeau declaring he’d balance the budget by spending less than the government takes in. That’s the kind of economic genius I expect to hear from him in the coming months.

        • Except he’s not just making a statement in a vacuum. The topic is budget deficits, and he’s suggesting we don’t have to worry about it “growth” will make it go away. That’s not just simplistic, its fantasy head-in-sand stuff. He doesn’t want to say what he’d focus on to actually balance a budget (what stays and what goes) because he doesn’t like consequences and hence doesn’t like making decisions (a by-product of being a wholly unaccomplished silver-spoon man child), but more importantly, because he doesn’t have a clue. His depth doesn’t go beyond college arts lounge coffee talk sound bytes.

          • Yawn. Zzzzzzzzzzz

    • You mean hard choices like NOT choosing to p*ss away, what is it, 450 million of hard earned tax payer dollars and widow’s mites on partisan self promotion?
      Trudeau may be green, but spare us the whiny sanctimony, and deal with your own sh*t for once.

    • Wow, a clip that just happens to play the one line you take issue with, without anything else he said in the interview. Heck, that video does not even show his entire sentence.

      It is just so, well, meaningless…

      But hey – at least you get to lie, whine and change the topic again, so I guess you got something out of it.

      ha ha ha ha ha

  11. I have no more idea than the next person what this rift means – other than its good for policy making even if not quite so good for the CPC. Since lots of liberals have been calling for this kind of reflection from this govt w/o much success, I’m not going to complain. Not to say I’m not going to enjoy Harper’s further discomfit shire …looks like his iron grip is slipping, that’s a good thing too.
    http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/flaherty-cites-terrorism-when-asked-why-cra-auditing-environmental-charities
    Just a reminder of how weird the inner workings of this govt is though. Even if it is just another Freudian slip.

  12. As a Conservative, I am entitled to this very important tax break. If my leader does not keep this promise, it will be all hell break loose. I am entitled to this tax break as my wife should not have to work.

    • Too bad they don’t have a tax credit for trolling. You’d be rolling in it. And yeah, I get that you’re trying to be sarcastic. Not all sarcasm is funny. It needs to be done well. You failed.

  13. Liking Jim more and more.

    • I for one have to commend you on your eloquence. The way you deftly explained and navigated the nuances within the budget was spectacular and done with Shakespearean elegance.

      You are a wordsmith Sir 1Billiam

      • campaign promises. Jim wants to deliver Harper doesnt..
        over all I think Harper should step down. Jim may try for it.
        Sorta reminds me of the liberals a la Martin / Chretien.
        It is telling in that there is discontent within the CPC.
        better?
        edit: forgot to add I voted for CPC last 3 times… but no more. Toomuch Israel loving for me. a bit is fine but….its laughable now.

      • Use your real name Gutless FAKE!

        • Stop stealing my name you libtard!

  14. Maybe the Federal Conservatives are going to take a page from the Ontario Liberals with their “30% off tuition” scam that’s only available to a miniscule portion of students.

    Eg:”Harper Government announces Income Spiltting!*

    *Income splitting not available to anyone who uses any other federal non-refundable tax credits.

    • That’s pretty much what Jack Mintz is suggesting they do. Let ‘em split income but only if they forgo the spousal credit. That’s like giving someone an RRSP deduction only if they forfeit their CPP entitlements.

  15. Pingback: Jim Flaherty's statement on his resignation as finance minister

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