Prime Minister Stephen Harper is flip-flopping on the biggest economic commitment he made in the last election.
Harper promised Canadians that as soon as the budget is balanced, income splitting “should be one of our highest priorities.” The Conservatives’ election platform pledged $3.1 billion for income splitting and called it “an historic step forward to achieve greater fairness for families.”
But now that the Conservatives think a balanced budget is around the corner, they are changing their minds. Harper now refuses to say if he will keep his promise on income splitting. Earlier this month, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said, “I’m not sure that overall it [income splitting] benefits our society.”
The Liberals support tax changes that help middle class families. However, the Conservatives’ income splitting scheme would disproportionately benefit high-income earners at the expense of the middle class. The C.D. Howe Institute reports that the Conservatives’ scheme excludes 85 per cent of Canadian households from any benefit whatsoever.
It was irresponsible for the Conservatives to campaign on bad economic policy that wasn’t thought through. But now Harper is getting ready to break his promise on income splitting because he no longer thinks the idea is popular enough to get him re-elected.
Income splitting is just the latest example of Conservative election promises that were never honoured. The long list of Conservative broken promises includes no patronage appointments in the Senate, no cuts to Old Age Security and no new taxes on income trusts.
Canadians are tired of Harper’s broken promises. It is time for a federal government that actually thinks through its policies before presenting them. It is time for a government that will help struggling middle class families.
MP Scott Brison, Liberal Finance Critic