Conservative budget promises billions in new spending, tax cuts for families

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty loaded into the budget more than $10 billion in new spending.

OTTAWA (CP) – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty loaded more than $10 billion in new spending into a budgetary paintball gun Monday and splattered the country with targeted tax measures designed to colour Canada Tory blue.

The budget, which could pass as a campaign platform for either the Conservatives or Liberals, makes a tough target for any opposition party aiming to bring down the minority government barely a year after the last federal vote.

The Conservative government had families with children in its sights as it fashioned its second spending blueprint around middle-class Canadians. A new child tax benefit will save most tax-paying parents $310 a year per kid under age 18. Education savings plans for parents have also been made more generous.

“I hear it at the hockey arena, I hear it at the coffee shops, I head it from people on the street: taxes in Canada are way too high,” Flaherty told the House of Commons in a feel-good budget speech.

“We need to make it more affordable for people to have children and to raise them. There were many personal tax relief options we could have pursued in this budget. We made a choice. We chose to support hard-working families.”

Have-not provincial treasuries also got sprayed with federal largesse — an extra $1.5 billion this year — as Prime Minister Stephen Harper made good on a promise to redistribute the Ottawa's rising revenue spoils through an enriched equalization program.

Seniors, the working poor, environmental causes, higher education, the beleaguered manufacturing sector, small businesses and law-and-order advocates all got a nod from a government determined to hug the safe political centre.