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Flaherty's delay imperils Tory campaign pledges

The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter is shown after it was unveiled in a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, in this July 7, 2006, file photo.

The Canadian Press

A delay in slaying the deficit could postpone a string of campaign pledges that are predicated on balancing the books.

The Conservatives have promised several measures – from allowing income splitting to tax breaks on gym memberships – that will be implemented only "when the federal budget is balanced within our next full term of office."

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante, a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said Ottawa has already acted on a number of its election promises and "we will implement certain others when the federal budget is balanced."

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These include:

Income splitting

The Conservatives pledged to let families with children split, or share, $50,000 of their household income. They estimate the "family tax cut" pledge would save as many as 1.8 million Canadian families an average of $1,300 a year at an estimated cost of $2.5-billion.

"We think once the budget is balanced that fixing this should be one our highest priorities," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in March.

The catch, as stated in the Conservative platform: "This important new measure will be implemented when the federal budget is balanced within our next full term of office."

Tax-free savings accounts

The Tories created tax-free savings accounts in 2008 and since then about 4.7 million Canadians have opened them. The Conservatives have promised to double the amount Canadians can save each year, to $10,000.

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"Stephen Harper campaigned on balancing the budget, so he could double tax-free savings account contributions and extend income-splitting to working couples," said Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "If he doesn't deliver a balanced budget, he's not going to deliver tax relief. He's only going to deliver more debt."

Fitness tax credit for adults

The Tories planned a fitness tax credit for adults that would give people breaks on gym memberships and other athletic expenses.

The adult fitness tax credit is worth up to $75 for adult fitness expenses and would cost $275-million.

Doubling existing tax break for kids' sports fees

The Tories have promised to double the current fitness tax credit for children to cover $1,000 of sports and recreation fees. That translates into a tax break worth up to $150, instead of the current $75.

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The doubling of the existing tax credit would cost $30-million, the Conservatives have estimated.

The plan to purchase fighter jets

These pledges aren't the only measures dependent on eliminating the deficit. The F-35 fighter jets plan is, too. Purchase of the 65 jets will be made gradually over the next 15 years, "most of it beginning only in 2015, once the budget is balanced," the Conservative campaign platform says.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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