Flaherty has doubts about benefits of promised income-splitting

Is the promise of income-splitting fading already?

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OTTAWA – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed doubt Wednesday that expanding income-splitting for tax purposes is the best way to spend a surplus he expects to deliver ahead of the next election.

Income-splitting for families with dependents under the age of 18 was a promise the governing Conservatives made in the last election, but were unable to fulfill as they fell into a fiscal hole during the recession.

However, Flaherty’s latest budget projects a $6.4-billion surplus in 2015, just in time for the coming election.

But he said he personally thinks blowing part of that money on a promise that’s expected to cost about $2.5 billion is not the way to go.

“I would pay down public debt and reduce taxes more, myself, but I am only one person,” he said in a post-budget interview before the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

“There’s a tendency among politicians to always — regardless of political stripe — to always want to throw baubles out the window and pretty things — ‘Look over here’ — you know,” he laughed. “And this is a shiny thing. Vote for me because I have a shiny thing. I’m not there.”

Prudent fiscal management has historically served Canada well, Flaherty said, but federal governments lost their way over the last 50 years and became spendthrifts.

“We’ve created a large public debt and we should deal with it and we should knock it down,” he added.

“Not for my sake, it won’t make any difference to me, but it will make a big difference to the next generations.”

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