Until today I was a grudging (and rare) holdout of support for Ontario’s move from an archaic PST to a more universal HST. With a single capitulation to threats of blockades by radical native groups, the federal Conservatives and provincial Liberals – backed by both opposition parties – have ensured that there are no parties anywhere to be seen with which I can relate on this issue. Sadly enough, my opposition to the HST in Ontario cannot be championed by the opposition PCs and NDP, as both have done the politically expedient thing and supported a racial tax exemption.
My tepid support for replacing Ontario’s PST with an HST was based on a few notably positive factors: 1) savings to businesses, 2) applicability to all products and 3) applicability to all consumers. While the CTF has argued that the HST’s applicability to all products should mean that the overall rate should be lowered to ensure revenue neutrality (or offset by income tax cuts), the issue of applying the tax equally to all consumers has until now been taken for granted. Only radical groups demanding an exemption determined on the basis of race have called into question whether or not the HST should apply to all.
Under physical threat of barricading roads during the Stimuli-Summit G8/G20, the federal Conservative and Ontario Liberal governments have caved. Until now, the Ontario PCs have condemned the Liberal government for plain cowardice in dealing with the siege of Caledonia. The Ontario PC’s apparent complacency in caving to these radical demands does not bode well for a party attempting to recover an image of decisiveness and one that actually stands for something again.
And so all Ontarians not blessed with correct lineage will be paying a proportionally greater share of the HST. “Applicability to all consumers,” is no more – and so with this key component for my support now gone the way of balanced budgets and the dodo, so goes my lonely support for the HST.