Harper promises "historic
[PoliticsWatch updated 2:35 p.m., February 5, 2007]
|Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
OTTAWA — Canada's
prime minister promised Tuesday that his government will take
"historic action" to reduce personal taxes in the coming
In an addressed described as a "mini throne
speech" outlining the government's agenda, Prime Minister Stephen
Harper said the Conservative government will put into law a
"In the future as the federal government pays down our national debt, it will be required to use the interest savings to cut personal
taxes," Harper told a lunch audience at an Ottawa hotel.
The plan to use interest savings to cut taxes was first outlined by
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in his November fiscal update.
However, legislating the practice was not mentioned by Flaherty at
The federal budget is expected to be tabled on March 20.
Much of Harper's speech went over the areas he covered two weeks ago
in a speech to mark the first anniversary of the Conservatives'
Among the areas Harper said the government will
focus on in the coming year are:
> Pushing through its legislative package to get tough on crime
> Spending more money to "rebuild"
the Canadian Forces
> Democratic reform, including legislation to have Senate
elections, term limits and fixed election dates.
> Achieving fiscal balance with the provinces.
The PM also spent a substantial portion of his speech outlining his
government's plans on the environment.
"Canadians have made clear to us that they want to put one task of everything else -- protecting and improving the
environment," Harper told the audience.
On Monday night, the prime minister was absent from the House of
Commons when the three opposition parties passed a non-binding
motion recommending the federal government meet its Kyoto
Under the protocol, Canada must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions
to six per cent below 1990 levels. As of 2004, Canada is 30 per cent
above the 1990 levels.
The prime minister used charts and graphs to illustrate to the
audience just how off course Canada was to meet its Kyoto
"This is not a matter of flipping a switch, ladies and
gentlemen," he said when the presentation was over.
Without saying Canada cannot meet its targets, the PM said that the
current government was different from the previous Liberal
government because Canada is no longer a "country that sets unrealistic targets and then does absolutely nothing to achieve them."
“The fundamental challenge of our time is to make real progress on environmental protection while preserving jobs and standards of living,”
said Harper, who promised during the speech to introduce mandatory
regulations for industry on greenhouse gas emissions.
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