You won't believe what Jason Kenney said about family stability

Senior Conservative Minister Jason Kenney on Friday defended his party's family income splitting promise, linking the policy that encourages women to stay at home is good for family stability.

Kenney, the standard-bearer for social conservatism in Canada, made the comments at the Manning Networking Conference, a two-day gathering of the country's conservative movement.

"I was delighted we made a commitment to Canadians in the 2011 election platform to deliver tax fairness for families through the family tax cut that would eliminate a long-standing and unfair discrimination against certain families in the tax code.”

Then, Kenney praised the virtues of stable families. That's when he got himself into trouble.

"When we talk about all of these labour issues, we need to recognize that according to the data, the single most important factor that leads to successful employment and economic opportunities for people is whether they come from a stable family."

By design, the Conservative plan, dubbed the Mad Men Giveaway, encourages a stay-at-home parent. Parents with children under 18 would be allowed to split up to $50,000 of income with their partner. This means that some additional income could be declared for tax purposes by the spouse in the lower tax bracket (including spouses who are not working at all), reducing the overall taxes paid by the couple).
When pressed later by reporters if "stable family" was code for a household with a stay-at-home parent and another who works outside the home, Kenney dodged the question.

"There’s all kinds of different families that are stable," he said. "We just believe in supporting families and the choices they make."

Kenney's income-splitting misstep is just the latest for the Conservative government.

Two weeks ago, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the policy, a key promise in the 2011 election campaign, needs a serious rethink because so few families would benefit from it. Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded this week by calling it an "excellent policy for Canadian families."

Photo: erjkprunczyk. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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