The QP Clip: Flaherty awkward on income splitting

The exchange you can’t miss from this afternoon’s Question Period


Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who’s developing a penchant for ignoring talking points, openly doubted the effectiveness of a Conservative campaign promise from 2011. Flaherty mused about whether or not income splitting, one of the goodies the Tories said they’d implement when they balanced the federal budget, was worth the cost.

Income splitting is a measure that, if enacted, would allow couples to transfer a certain amount of income from one to another in order to alleviate their income tax bills. Earlier this week, Flaherty cracked open a wedge in the Conservative caucus with four sentences. Income splitting “is an interesting idea,” he said. “I’m just one voice. It benefits some parts of the Canadian population a lot. And other parts of the Canadian population virtually not at all.”

Think tanks tend to agree with Flaherty’s analysis. The left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives claims 86 per cent of Canadian benefits wouldn’t benefit at all from income splitting. That’s consistent with Flaherty’s broad point.

Today, NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie led Question Period with a question about Tory plans to implement the measure, and she cited the CCPA’s numbers—a question that never would have come to light had Flaherty not opened his mouth. In any case, the finance minister rose and chose not to address Leslie’s particular query. Instead, he waxed on about the Conservative low-tax agenda.

Later, Liberal MP Scott Brison quoted the same CCPA statistic and more or less repeated Leslie’s words. Flaherty’s response? “When I contemplate policies, I rarely think of the Liberal Party.” Ha ha, funny quip. But awkward given that the finance minister’s assessment of income splitting jibes with not only the Liberals, but also the NDP. The wedge deepens.

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The QP Clip: Flaherty awkward on income splitting

  1. Yes, the divisions within the party are deep and irreparable. The media would be wise to focus on the impending doom of the Conservative Party of Canada because of these irreconcilable differences among Conservatives.

    • Stockwell, on CBC today says this confusion’ over income splitting is potentially very harmful. Maybe you should listen to what he’s saying.

      • Talking about cutting taxes on middle class families for the next 18 months instead of talking about the Senate, or election laws, or pot, or prostitution is potentially very helpful.

        A vigorous debate, internal and external, about the best way to cut taxes on middle class families is a good thing, because the MSM, the Liberals, and the NDP are opposed to cutting taxes on middle class families.

        Harper is going to use “internal dissension” to control the media narrative, and direct it to the main difference between the Conservatives and the other parties. The Conservatives are going to cut taxes for middle class families (by some method). The other parties are not.

        Harper is building the wedge. If Conservatives agreed on how to cut taxes on middle class families, he would be unable to build and bring attention to the wedge.

        The Liberals want to talk about pot and prostitution at their policy convention.

        • How did an accused child molester get pass the doors of 24 Sussex Drive ?

          • That has nothing to do with this.

        • Ah – whatever happens – it’s you cunning strategists that have the fix. So you’re trying to find a shinier bauble then the one previously offered. Good luck, because the people you promised income splitting during the 2011 campaign, and up until now may not buy it. You specifically targeted the fairly affluent crowd who believe women should stay home and raise the children, and now you have, at the very least, wobbled on that commitment. If there’e a wedge to be created I think it’s within your own party.As Stockwell said candidates have door knocked on this promise – how do they go back and say – ‘well, we’ve been thinking about this, and maybe it’s not such a good idea’.

        • The cons want two classes of people.The rich and poor.
          The middle class is already beginning to co-operate into
          the poor class.The surplus is actually created from the
          middle class losing their jobs, and belongings.Some are
          pan handling to feed their family,due to a decline in the job

    • When I saw Jack Mintz getting interviewed on the CTV news with Dan Matheson earlier tonight, he didn’t look like a happy camper. In fact he almost made it clear the base is ready to have a conniption. Call it what it is, its a ” FLIP-FLOP ” and nothing else more than that. harper is hoping the media will form some kind of narrative on the political talk shows so it can pass the smell test for the base, so he can get off the hook somehow between this and the next election. The old Tom Flanagan approach, hope the population have short memories.

  2. They really didn’t expect and well thought out and reasonable answer from the Harper Cons did they? For a man supposedly averse to talking points Flaherty sure spouts enough of them.

  3. To answer Megan Leslie: The Guaranteed Income Supplement only benefits a small percentage of Canadians, and I think it is nearly universally agreed that it is a good policy.

    Good government policy doesn’t necessarily have to benefit everyone directly.

    • What percentage of seniors does it benefit? And of those seniors, how many are women?

  4. .

  5. I’m glad the G & M has taken a staunch editorial stance against income splitting. Except, of course, for it’s most affluent and moneyed readers:

    As I’ve been saying, the rich are already splitting their income. They’d sneeze at being able to split another $50,000 with their spouse. They’re already using corporations, trusts and other structures to spread their income across multiple family members.

    • The rich didn’t get that way by paying their wives to stay home, they only started splitting income AFTER they got rich. If you want to split your income, start a business, incorporate, build up some assets, and then pay a tax lawyer to set up your finances to split your income any way you want.

      Or you can keep crying for the government to let you split your income now when you’ve accomplished exactly nothing. How well is that working for you? There’s a reason why salary earners aren’t allowed the same tax advantages as business owners. It has to do with rewarding success. The economy depends on incentives. The tax system is supposed to reward success, not wage slavery. They aren’t going to give you and your wife an incentive to succeed less. She’ll just have to get a job like everyone else and you can wash your own socks.

      • A) My wife already works

        B) I already wash my own socks.

        C) If wage slavery accomplishes nothing, why are you so concerned about the tax system providing maximum incentive for people to work for wages?

        D) I wouldn’t benefit from the Tory splitting proposal anyway, since we don’t have kids.

        E) How do you know I’m not successful? Look at my avatar. Is that not the very image of success?