Metro Vancouver MPs joust over harmonized sales tax

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Federal Liberals like Ujjal Dosanjh refer to B.C.’s controversial harmonized sales tax as the “Harper sales tax”. But with a looming fall election, the Vancouver South MP can’t offer any assurances that a Liberal government in Ottawa would slam the brakes on the HST.

      “You know what? Ultimately it is the decision of the provincial government whether or not to do HST,” Dosanjh told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “We as a federal government will not be pushing if British Columbia were to change its mind.”

      The budget update laid out by B.C. Liberal finance minister Colin Hansen earlier this month states that the implementation of the HST and related measures on July 1, 2010, will be “subject to the approval of the Legislature of British Columbia and the Parliament of Canada”.

      For budget year 2009-2010, the Conservative government will give $750 million in transition payments to the province to facilitate the shift to HST. B.C. expects to receive $374 million and $475 million in budget years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. These federal transfers total about $1.6 billion.

      Asked how federal Liberals will act if an HST-related measure is brought to a vote before Parliament, which will resume session on September 14, Dosanjh said: “When and if it comes, we’ll take a look at it.”

      For now, Dosanjh’s beef is that the federal government “should not be pushing for the imposition of higher taxes on ordinary people in British Columbia at a time when they can ill afford those higher taxes”.

      NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) accused Liberals of insincerity with respect to the HST issue.

      “People forget that the federal budget that was passed in February, that the Liberals voted for, contained in it a clear message”¦.if we go back and read the budget, it’s got clear provisions for the HST,” Davies told the Straight. “And it provided for the budgetary money, the federal bribe money, to the provinces to implement it.”

      Because the HST shift requires agreement and implementation by both levels of government, he noted that it can be stopped in Ottawa if the federal government chooses to do so.

      “But once again it’s just massive Liberal hypocrisy,” Davies said.

      A memorandum of agreement signed by Hansen and federal Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty in July this year regarding the adoption of the HST provides that both governments will “use their best efforts” to enter into a Canada-B.C. Comprehensive Integrated Tax Co-ordination Agreement on or before September 30, 2009.

      The accord also states that the two parties will attempt to complete all undertakings, “including any necessary legislative processes and the signing of appropriate agreements”, before March 31, 2010.

      On top of the $1.6 billion in federal transfers for HST implementation, the province expects to save about $30 million annually in administrative costs that will be borne by the federal government.

      According to Davies, New Democrats have been opposed to the HST from the beginning. “We voted against that [2009 federal] budget for a lot of reasons, including that,” he said. “That last budget contained very regressive tax provisions where they shifted the tax burden from corporations on to consumers.”

      Conservative MP John Cummins (Delta–Richmond East) confirmed that the federal government has as large a role as the provincial government does in bringing in the HST.

      “There would have to be action [in Parliament], because the deal related to the collection of taxes and the disbursement of funds,” Cummins told the Straight. “There would have to be legislation.”

      He also said that Conservatives aren’t so much worried about an HST backlash in the province because of the party’s record in steering Canada out of recession.

      “The Liberals have not come up with a different plan,” Cummins added. “One day they’d be criticizing us because we weren’t spending enough money in the stimulus package, and then the next day they’re critical of us because the deficit was too large. Well, you can’t have it both ways.”

      A public forum on the HST organized by the provincial NDP will be held today (September 10) at the Alice MacKay Room of the Vancouver public library’s central branch (350 West Georgia Street) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. On September 19, former Social Credit premier Bill Vander Zalm will launch a citizens’ initiative to rescind the HST.



      Thats Double Talk

      Sep 10, 2009 at 10:04am

      Because it takes two to pass this tax throught and it 50 Ways to lose a premier to set yourself free from the hated HST.

      A tax to help out the troubling economy and cash strapped provinces.
      Harper and Campbell have much in common as both set record deficits in their time in office with nothing to show for it. As money spent sure hasn't been on the residents of this province as Campbell comes in right from the get go and starts closing much needed women centers down as were there for their communties and services as women would have to pay for their own protection orders or go without. Things have gotten progressively worst for all sectors of society, and children are especially hit as who do wee ones tell and of course we all know kids don't vote.

      And this tax is deadly as restarants are already feeling the pinch as many have taken to eating of home as of late do to recessionary pangs. The HST is a blow the industry can not take. No tax on consumption, a tax on the rich as this government has had its eye on the pockets of the poor since Liberals got into office and it has cost this province dearly as looks like BC isn't doing to hot either as Coleman has an axe to grind when it comes to vital services.
      How many children has Mr. Coleman starved to day? I do believe he lives for just that.

      Unemployment still high at 9%

      Sep 10, 2009 at 10:44am

      The jobs created were mostly part-time low paying jobs as retail purchases increase as newly arrived Canadians help create employment that who would want as its not enough money to keep anyone alive?
      Canada is not out of a recession yet and unemployment is still ridiculously high while a couple hundred thousand workers from outside countries sit on the sidelines looking for work. With the HST its a guarantee most new low paying part time retail jobs created will be in jeopardy as their is going to be a lot less money around to spend on those purchases. When did Canada come out of the red with the highest deficit ever reported Harper needs to give his head a shake as hurting companies look to ways to short change employees with part-time employment. Its the Fed's HST and its the Feds that need to rid the country of the hated tax as its bad all the away around and it hurts big time as the fasting growing employment gains were in small business and lets face it small is the first to feel the pinch and the first to go under.


      Sep 15, 2009 at 9:25am

      It's a bit of a mystery to me why media outlets, national, regional and local, give Ujjal Dosanjh so much time and space on so many issues, some of them far removed from his current critic post in the Official Opposition. And by the way, ... what is that critic post, I really can't think off-hand what his present critic portfolio is.

      Looking at the shrinkage in his margin in Vancouver-South, from 9000 votes in 2006 to just twenty (20) votes last October, it's clear Dosanjh cannot possibly risk seeking another term in Parliament. For to do so would be to risk adding a federal defeat to his record-breaking humiliation in the 2001 provincial election. His currency for any future board/panel/commission/inquiry role would be greatly diminished. He cannot afford that.

      Rod Smelser