Where is the argument in favour of the HST coming from? Not only are the governments of BC and Ontario in favour, but so are the feds (both the Conservatives AND the Liberals). If the "people" are so overwhelmingly opposed, how can it be that there is even any debate about implementing the HST? You may currently be convinced that the HST move (which primarily shifts taxation from corporations, which invest, to consumers) would be as dumb an idea to you if you were Alberta's Minister of Finance as it is to you now as a member of an opposition party. But we have two provincial parties (and two federal ones as well, really) who seemed to have taken a more favourable view once in government. Whatever one's opinion on the matter, surely it would useful to try and find out just why this is.
Before jumping to any simple conclusions, I would note that the NDP is opposed to the HST both provincially and federally. In March of 2008, Ontario Premier McGuinty said,
What the Conservatives are asking us to do is to cut corporate income taxes – those are taxes on profitable corporations – by $2.3 billion… That definitely means closing hospitals, firing nurses, cutting education.and in September of 2008 McGuinty's Finance Minister Dwight Duncan declared that
We don't agree with Mr. Mintz…Our taxes were the ones that were recommended to us by Ontario businesses, not by Alberta academics. That old neo-conservative attitude didn't work.
One could believe that McGuinty and Duncan flip-flopped after making these remarks because they have weak moral characters. But is it not also possible that Professor Mintz's argument for the HST was fundamentally sound such that this argument eventually came to prevail with reasonably-minded statesmen?
What we should all be able to agree on is that both the BC and Ontario governments should have been more upfront about the HST earlier. Perhaps Wildrose could end up in the same position of misleading voters if its policy decisions are too summary?
I'll now make one more follow-up to my last blogpost, and that's to note with some regret that Al Napier defeated Walter Wakula for southern director. Walter has more than 25 years of senior executive and corporate directorship experience and has served on the Senate of the University of Calgary. He also contested that Calgary West federal Conservative nomination against Rob Anders, whose resume prior to being elected as MP primarily consisted of acting as a professional heckler on behalf of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Anders' most recent claim to fame is to instruct our Canadian troops, "when in doubt, pull the trigger." According to the CBC, "Anders' message did not sit well with his constituents in Calgary West." Of course, the constituents of Calgary West could have had Walter Wakula as their MP, but it is not particularly easy to present that choice to the electorate when the federal Conservative party rigs the process. The Wildrose party had an opportunity here to put Walter on our provincial executive, and unfortunately the membership declined (I should note there that members from Edmonton could not vote for southern directors, just as Calgarians could not vote for northern directors). Although Walter was among the very first to get involved with the Reform Party, and has developed solid conservative credentials by dedicating years of service to both Reform and its successor parties, he had the good sense to call for a very well-worded "anti-poverty policy" in the Wildrose platform, a "moderate" policy to be sure that could even be called left wing but a far more defensible "moderation" of the platform than just watering down to platitudes the policies that happen to offend left wing insiders and their well-heeled special interests (yes, I am talking about unions). The truly poor are not an influential lobby in Alberta's legislature or really any legislature, and sadly Walter's anti-poverty plank did not come up for a vote.
Calgary Wildrosers still have a chance, however, to ensure that Walter Wakula is nominated as a Wildrose candidate in the next election. For anyone thinking that Walter isn't a true conservative because he has tangled with the "Conservative" establishment, I would suggest that that very fact may argue in favour of Walter being a true conservative:
ask Calgary West's veteran Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative activists and they will say they did not toil in the political wilderness all those years just to put another top-down organization in power. "They've lost their way," one frustrated long-time Reformer said. "This isn't the party we built."
- the National Post