TORONTO, Ont. – Laden with financial incentives and a major tax reform, the Conservatives released their complete five-point campaign platform, Friday, in an attempt to bring the party closer to their coveted majority government.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s plan, “Here for Canada,” plan focuses on creating jobs, supporting families, getting tough on crime, eliminating the deficit and investing in protecting Canadian Arctic sovereignty.
“Canadians can continue to go forward, can continue to come out of the global recession faster and stronger than the rest, with a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government,” Harper told hundreds of supporters in Mississauga.
The platform includes a salary-sharing credit for spouses, that will essentially cut family taxes by an average of $1,300, which comes on the heels of the Liberal’s “family pack” platform.
Harper also reiterated many of his earlier campaign promises, such as doubling the annual limit on tax-free savings accounts from $5,000 to $10,000 and an increased child fitness tax-credit.
Behind the tax cuts; however, there is some small print, and as is often the way in political campaigns, there is a catch.
The promised tax-breaks not only rely on the Conservatives winning a majority government, but will also come only after the budget is balanced, which is expected to take around five years.
“I think Canadians understand very well that they don’t want to be mortgaging their children and their grandchildren’s future,” Finance Minister Jim Flahety said as the Conservatives revealed their complete platform at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
The Conservative’s $6.6-billion platform also emphasizes the ability to get rid of the massive budget deficit a year earlier than scheduled by cutting government spending. However, the plan fails to specify what expenses will be slashed to save the $11-billion needed to eliminate the deficit.
Also promised in the platform are tougher penalties for offences like child pornography and elder abuse, along with a streamlined process to deport foreign criminals.
The measures included in the budget reflect initiatives already presented in the budget the Tories tabled shortly before their government fell in March.
There were a few new items present in the campaign, such as the promise of defibrillators in every arena in the country.
Harper’s platform also pledges to give $2.2-billion to Quebec as a compensation package for harmonizing federal and provincial sales taxes. While that will add to the deficit, Harper said it will be a one-time cost that won’t significantly push back efforts to balance the books.
The Liberals have gone as far as calling the Conservative’s latest plan the “Star-Trek platform,” considering most of the goodies won’t come into effect until nearly five years from now.