The Harper government tries to bend time - Macleans.ca

The Harper government tries to bend time

It is premature to discuss in 2014 what was discussed in 2011

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Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Justin Trudeau’s questions yesterday produced a potentially interesting statement from the Prime Minister on income-splitting.

Income splitting was a good policy for Canadian seniors and it will be a good policy for Canadian families.

So does that mean the commitment is back on? Or remains on? The Prime Minister’s director of communications seems to try to maintain that income-splitting is a good policy without quite committing the government to it.

“It is a good policy,” Jason Macdonald, Harper’s director of communications, said in an email. “It has been good for seniors and it would be good for families but, as the prime minister has said, we aren’t in a position to talk about additional tax relief until we have the fiscal room to do so. That means balancing the budget and creating a surplus before we talk about additional relief.”

Maybe the government won’t be in a position to implement additional tax relief until the budget is in surplus, but it can’t possibly not be in a position to talk about additional tax relief until then because it was already in a position to talk about exactly this kind of tax relief three years ago. Jim Flaherty has said that it will be good to have a “fulsome discussion” about this issue in 2015, but the modern concept of time being what it is, it is difficult to understand how 2014 could be too early to discuss something that was actively discussed in 2011.

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