Question Period: Key quotes on income-splitting, Mexico summit and Liberal convention
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, February 16, 2014 10:16AM EST
It's been less than a week since the Conservative government tabled its latest budget, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is headed to Mexico for another "Three Amigos" summit and the Liberals gather in Ottawa next weekend for their annual convention.
These and other topics dominated CTV's Question Period this week. Here's what our guests had to say:
Split-up over income splitting?
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty caused a stir last week when he appeared to walk-back a Conservative campaign promise to introduce income splitting once he balanced the books, which he's on track to do by next year. His comments appeared to open a rift in the Conservative caucus, with Employment Minister Jason Kenney saying that "we keep our election promises," while Harper would only commit to offering tax relief for families when the surplus is realized.
"The discussion about what kind of tax relief we might be able to provide Canadians in 2015 is built on the assumption that we have, first of all, a balanced budget, and more importantly that we have a surplus. We actually aren't in a position where we have a surplus yet." -- Jason MacDonald, communications director to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
"The government's made it clear, they're committed to delivering tax relief to Canadian families. Ultimately what I want to see is it done in the most effective way." -- Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro, who left cabinet when he was charged with elections violations.
"(Flaherty's) not floating something he hasn't already discussed with the prime minister." -- Del Mastro
Harper heads to Mexico this week to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and U.S. President Barack Obama. Energy and trade will top the agenda, particularly expanding trade with Mexico, now Canada's fourth-largest trading partner. Meanwhile, Obama's long-awaited decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will surely come up during a bilateral meeting with Harper.
"You can expect that…Prime Minister Harper will be talking about how we can continue to grow the trade relationship between us and Mexico, us and the United States." -- MacDonald
"I understand, I think everyone understands the importance of Keystone to the Canadian government, to the Canadian people. There are people on both sides of this issue on both sides of the border. It is a process, I think the process took a big step forward a couple of weeks ago with the environmental impact statement that was released. That's not the end of the process, but maybe it's the beginning of the end. We've got laws and we've got rules in our country that we've got to follow." -- David Jacobson, former U.S. ambassador to Canada
Next weekend, Liberals from across the country will gather in Montreal to set their party's agenda, which will inform their policy proposals ahead of the 2015 election campaign. Gerald Butts, senior advisor to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, denies that Trudeau has offered few concrete policy proposals or ideas on major issues.
"I think Justin has been very careful and clear to get big issues right since he's been leader and when he was running for leader, to (offer) clear positions on post-secondary education, on foreign direct investment in the country in the CNOOC deal, sometimes being at odds with where Liberals have been in the past and sometimes on economic issues" -- Butts
"I'm interested to see if the Liberal senators who have been kicked out, supposedly kicked out of the Liberal Party are actually going to be there." -- Jason Lietaer, Conservative strategist
"Here's what you won't hear: our most solemn platform commitment in the last election being renounced by our finance minister the day after a budget." -- Steve MacKinnon, Liberal strategist
"I've been to every single Liberal Party convention for the past decade, and Conservative Party conventions. Other parties attend each other's conventions. It's a good opportunity to see what they're doing." -- Anne McGrath, strategic advisor to Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair