POLITICS

Eve Adams' Income Splitting Question Shot Down By Pierre Poilievre (And Eve Adams)

04/01/2015 07:14 EDT | Updated 04/01/2015 07:59 EDT

Eve Adams likely expected Conservatives would have a snappy retort when she asked her first question as a Liberal MP.

She may not have anticipated that the words fired back would be her own.

On Wednesday, Adams rose in question period to bemoan the Conservatives’ controversial income splitting plan, which she derided as a tax break for the wealthy when she crossed the floor from the Tories to Liberals in February.

She began by accusing Finance Minister Joe Oliver of “hiding” instead of delivering a budget. Adams, currently the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, hopes to win the Liberal nomination to take on Oliver in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence in the next election.

“Will the finance minister back away from implementing his already broken campaign promise that gives a $2 billion tax break to the rich and does absolutely nothing for most Canadians?” she asked.

Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre wasted little time playing his trump card.

“Mr. Speaker, no one said it better than the following quote: ‘I’ll vote for the Conservative Family Tax cut that will allow for income splitting,’” he deadpanned. “Who said that? The Liberal member who just asked the question.”

The reply drew plenty of applause from Tories and a “wow” from Veteran Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole.

The quote Poilievre referenced appears to come from a Facebook post Adams wrote just before the 2011 federal election in which she expressed support for the policy.

Poilievre also took to Twitter to hammer home the point.

Adams replied that the income splitting plan was not the one that Tories campaigned on in 2011 — and she's right. The plan Tories promised during the last campaign was actually a more generous tax break for wealthy Canadians. The plan Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last fall caps benefits at $2,000, while the party promised no such cap four years ago.

When she joined Justin Trudeau’s team nearly two months ago, Adams said income splitting was something that would pit Canadians against one another.

“I cannot support mean-spirited measures that benefit only the richest few,” she said at a press conference with Trudeau.

When pressed about the fact that she campaigned on the policy in 2011, Adams said even late finance minister Jim Flaherty publicly expressed concerns about the plan after crunching the numbers.

Yet, the words she used while sitting next to the Liberal leader clashed with remarks she made in the House of Commons in mid-December. Adams praised her then-party before the holiday break for having tax policies that would ensure Canadian families see their “hard-earned money” return to their bank accounts.

The Tories’ so-called Family Tax Cut will permit a spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of their taxable income to a lower-earning spouse in order to sidestep a higher tax bracket. It only applies to families with children under the age of 18.

Last week, a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer appeared to confirm what Liberals and New Democrats have been saying for months: the plan will only benefit about 15 per cent of Canadian households and do nothing for low-income families.

Michael Taube, a former speechwriter for Harper, wrote in a column for the Toronto Sun last week that income splitting was “the equivalent of state-run socialism for the wealthy.”

With files from Althia Raj

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In Photos: Eve Adams