As part of the Conservative government's plan to try to convince Canadians that we should spend money we don't have to give big corporations tax breaks, instead of investing in ordinary Canadians, finance minister Jim Flaherty had a press conference this morning.
"Our plan actually is to continue to reduce taxes over time in Canada. We've reduced business taxes significantly, and our plan continues in that regard. We've reduced the federal consumption tax, the GST, as we promised we would ... We've done some tax reductions on personal income taxes. Quite frankly, we'd like to do more over time, so that's the direction we want to go. What we're seeing in the economy is moderate growth. It's not dramatic, but it is steady. And we expect that to continue over the medium term. You know, given what we've all been through around the world in the last few years, I would never presume to say 'never' in terms of a very substantial economic shock where we'd have to have one. And there are risks in the world, with respect to Europe, with respect to relative weakness in the U.S. economy, with respect to some global imbalances that I'm sure we'll be talking about at the world economic forum (in Davos, Switzerland) the next few days. That's not the expectation. The expectation is that we'll have continued moderate economic growth and continued tax reductions over time."Now, let me say first that, as a realistic and reasonable person, I think this is a perfectly acceptable and realistic answer. We don't know what the future may hold. Making definitive statements on hypotheticals is a fool's game. You can tell someone what you know they want to hear, but it wouldn't be honest. It's entirely possible that a scenario could arise where, to maintain programs, a tax increase may need to be considered.
In an email, a spokesman for Flaherty said the minister meant that he would never rule out another big economic shock. I suppose it depends on how you interpret the word "one," which I took to stand for "tax hike." But fair enough.Mark me down as unconvinced. The question was about ruling out a tax increase. Flaherty posited the hypothetical of another economic shock, and said he wouldn't rule it out. Look at the main line here again:
You know, given what we've all been through around the world in the last few years, I would never presume to say 'never' in terms of a very substantial economic shock where we'd have to have one.