Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Harmonized sales tax and Tory Bullies. . . .

On considering the recent flap over the issue of the harmonized sales tax, let me first say that I have never been a supporter of this Conservative instituted taxation scheme. I don't support sales taxes because they are essentially regressive and are much more difficult for poor and the working-class than for the more prosperous citizens. If you can afford to purchase a Lexus, you can afford to pay the tax on the Lexus. Income taxes make a lot more sense and I have never bought the argument put forward by many on the right that income taxes discourage innovation and success. If this were true Capitalism would have fallen apart many years ago. Furthermore, consistently the countries with the higher levels of income tax have been by far the most prosperous over the past seventy-five years; a fairly simple fact that most on the right are loath to even acknowledge let alone really address. 

Now having said all that, I have some qualifiers to add to the discourse. One is that 'if' you are going to have sales taxes it makes sense to harmonize them. The system is needlessly complicated and streamlining it obviously makes sense. However, it is unfortunate that the Provincial government in Ontario is using the harmonization to radically increase the sales tax that many will pay. The Ontario government is simply hiding behind this effort which they can blame in part on the Federal Government to increase their revenue on the backs of ordinary workers. 

However, the recent events in the Ontario legislature are probably the most ridiculous of all the events surround the introduction of the Harmonization plan. The show by the thugs of the Ontario Conservative Party is comical and sad. The primary reason that it is so comical is that it is so hypocritical. The leader of the opposition not only supports the harmonization (and would be the one instituting it if he were in office) but he has made it clear that he won't repeal it if he wins in the next election. His theatrical efforts are pathetic because they run contrary to all the principles that Hudak and his caucus claim to represent and they would condemn such tactics with all the pomp and circumstance they could muster if they were in power. The Conservative approach to such lawless tactics is usually "throw the bums in jail." And since the two MPPs that who are staging a sit-in are breaking the rules of the house and essentially breaking the law, it is their leader that should be held accountable. If we apply the standards of the Conservative Party the two MPPs who are engaging in the sit-in should be summarily arrested and put in jail and the speaker should ban the entire caucus from the house for the remainder of this session of parliament. This would be the attitude of the vast majority of Conservatives if they were in government so perhaps this is how they should be treated now. 

For the sake of Honesty Mr. Hudak should make it clear that he supports harmonization but he thinks the plan should change to ensure that it doesn't constitute a tax increase for most Ontarians.  Then he should kick the 'sit-in' MPPs out of his caucus to show that he respects the rules of the House. And then he should run in the next election on those principles. Instead he has just proven that like the Mike Harris Tories before him and the present federal government, he supports bullying, law-breaking tactics if he perceives a political advantage in them, and he has no real principles. Remember the antics of a one Mr. Chris Stockwell, Minister of the Environment under the last provincial government here in Ontario? Forced to hold public hearings (ironically the same kind of hearings that Mr. Hudak is now calling for) Chris Stockwell bullied the speakers at the hearings, often yelling at them and then walking out when they said things he didn't agree with. Obviously the Hudak approach is exactly the same. It is time for Tory Politicians to stop using illegal and bullying tactics to get their way like little school-yard nasties. 

No comments: