HST Federal and Provincial Votes: Big Theatrics Lend Little Substance

Highlander Moment: Bill Murdoch and Randy Hiller Stage a Sit-in Protest at Queen’s Park

December 4th 2009

HST caused quite a stir this week as Ontario MPPs Bill Murdoch and Randy Hillier staged a caucus approved sit-in at the legislature. Playing Braveheart was Bill Murdoch sporting his Ontario tartan kilt – this on the heels of a en-masse walkout staged by the Tory caucus during question period on November 23rd to protest lack of public consultations on HST bill.

Back on the Hill, on December 2nd, Ignatieff made the puzzling decision to exercise uncharacteristic party discipline by enforcing party backing for the HST. Four of his five Liberal MPs from British-Columbia had been on record opposing the tax because their constituents were fervently opposed to it. On December 3rd, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc all collaborated to set the HST wheels in motion by approving the means motion to amend the Excise Tax Act, the motion is what will allow the implementation of the HST.

Given that Liberal MPs had dubbed the HST the “Harper Sales Tax” this is a mystifying position. It seems there are quite a few people eager to amass political capital by exploiting the public outrage this tax has caused. There are hypocritical positions to be found across party lines on this issue – be it the waffling Federal Liberals or the Ontario Tories who seem to have conveniently forgotten that a former finance minister of theirs is the puppet master. It is also worth noting that they have not promised to reverse the HST if elected and have been careful not to be critical of their federal Conservative counterparts – they have not, for instance, publicly spoken of the $4.3 billion dollar incentive the Feds are offering Ontario to sign up.

In the midst of all this fanfare, who is actually proposing real solutions that will help older Canadians deal with this tax increase?

On Monday December 7th at 11a.m. CARP will be making its case before the Queen’s Park committee and calling on them to introduce home energy costs rebates and provide an HST relief grant to seniors based on income. In the afternoon the Committee will be reviewing the legislation clause by clause. When HST legislation comes up for Debate in British Columbia we will be urging them to do the same. It is the very least our elected representatives can do for people who have contributed to the system their whole lives and who vote in droves!

Keywords: HST