Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jason Kenney Says There's No Rift in Tory Caucus, Laughs off Leadership Talk

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jason Kenney Says There's No Rift in Tory Caucus, Laughs off Leadership Talk

Article excerpt

Jason Kenney 'good friends' with Jim Flaherty

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Employment Minister Jason Kenney says there's no federal Conservative caucus rift that he knows of and that he remains "good friends" with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Kenney and Flaherty have been at odds in recent public comments ranging from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to income splitting and the Canada Job Grant.

"Minister Flaherty and I are very good friends and I'll tell you, we're both committed to the same objectives and both very proud of our Irish heritage," he said Friday in St. John's, N.L.

Kenney has praised Flaherty as the best finance minister on the planet but the two have clashed recently. Kenney, who was in the city to speak to a business awards luncheon, also laughed off suggestions that any perceived conflict may have to do with his own leadership ambitions.

"I would say we have a leader, a great one, in Mr. Harper. And I'm looking forward to running under his leadership in the next election."

Political watchers most recently noted Kenney's response earlier this week after Flaherty made headlines by suggesting that income splitting -- a central 2011 Conservative campaign promise once the budget is balanced -- may not be the best tax-saving policy for families.

Kenney on Wednesday initially appeared to disagree. He stressed that income splitting was a platform commitment once the deficit is paid down, which Flaherty anticipates next year.

Kenney's comments Friday were more tempered with an emphasis on caucus unity.

"It was a platform commitment and we absolutely will be delivering tax relief for families once the budget is balanced," he said. "We're hopeful that will be in 2015, and all of our colleagues are committed to that objective. The exact precise design remains to be determined, but that's always the case when you have a general commitment. …

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