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Harper promises "historic action" on 
tax cuts 

[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 months.  

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 "tax-back guarantee."

"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 time.  

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' election victory. 

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 commitments. 

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 targets. 

"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. 

:  Related Links

> PM expresses frustration with opposition Kyoto "fantasy"

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