Friday, November 27, 2009

"A powerfully problematic ultimatum to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff"

That's how Harper's HST legislation was described this morning. It turns out, it may not be quite so ultimatum-y:

The Bloc Québécois says it will “probably” support a Conservative motion next week on the harmonized sales tax, a move that would give the government the votes it needs to move ahead with the plan.

The Bloc’s support will be welcome news to the premiers of Ontario and British Columbia, who have campaigned hard in favour of the tax change scheduled to take effect July 1.

Bloc House leader Pierre Paquette made the comments to reporters on Friday outside the House of Commons.

The Bloc’s support would also take some of the political heat off of Liberal MPs, who have been put in a political bind by the imminent motion. Several Liberal MPs have been vocal critics of the tax change, but voting to kill the measure risks alienating the Liberal party’s provincial wings in the two provinces.


If the Bloc do vote in favour of the HST, the bill will go through, much to the public delight of the BC and Ontario Premiers, and much to the private delight of the opposition leaders in those two provinces.

However, Ignatieff will still need to take a position on this issue and anyone who has watched him over the past year will agree that's still a powerfully problematic pickle for the Liberal leader.

Ignatieff basically has three choices:

1. Vote in favour of the HST: He's decisive, he's a "serious" politician...but the NDP get to whack him for supporting a policy few voters like.

2. Vote against it: The Liberals get a populist issue to attack the CPC with ("tax on everything!") and rally voters to their cause...but get accused of flip-flopping, and alienate provincial Liberals.

3. Allow a free vote: Caucus stays happy, he avoids pissing anyone off...and comes across looking like a man unable to make any sort of decision. And, oh yeah, he still needs to vote himself so see points 1 and 2.

D'oh!

Personally, I hope he chooses option 1, if only because the HST legislation is good policy and that should count for something, right? Right?

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19 Comments:

  • Option 2 is the best politically. The flip flopping charge means nothing especially when your chief rival can flip flop several times in as many days. The provincial Liberals might be pissed off but not that much if it passes anyways and I'm sure they'd understand the necessity of Ignatieff's position.

    As far as good policy goes, good for who is the operative question.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 10:47 PM  

  • Harper has put enough Canadian lives at risk! End the famine! Stop Harper! Stop the HST!

    By Anonymous Grassroots for Ignatieff, at 11:16 PM  

  • Right! Alberta coulda/shoulda tacked 3 points on for an HST that would be 1 point above what the GST was a couple of years ago, but Ed said "no tax increases." Translation: we're going to let our grandchildren pay back our deficits from the next four or more years.

    By Anonymous Finnegan, at 12:04 AM  

  • There is a fourth option.

    Namely, develop an alternative proposal, announce the hell out of it before the vote, and then vote no.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:17 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger McLea, at 1:37 AM  

  • I'm with option 2; this was meant as a hot explosive potato thrown at Ignatieff's brow but which could just as quickly be a return volley into Tubby's tenderloin region... Here in BC he's been let off very lightly for having parlayed his novelty-cheque skills and bribing Campbell into doing the unpalatable. While the HsT may be decent policy, it effectively is a tax shift at the worst time. There are other means at both the feds and provinces' disposal to achieve something similar without sending possible supporters out into the arms of Jack Layton.
    And what's wrong with some populist ideas seeping into the Liberal playbook (not that we have never used them before)? It's essentially the simple populist ideas that got Harper a lot of street cred during the 2006 campaign against the best deficit fighter the country has ever known - and look where we are now. Sometimes, drastic times call for drrastic measures.

    By Blogger rockfish, at 3:43 AM  

  • How about the issue of "honouring" agreements and contracts. Because Harper has an agreement with BC and Ontario, agreements should be honoured.

    Example - Kyoto. Agreement not honoured by Harper.

    Afghanistan - agreement honoured by BLOC, Harper and Libs - not NDP.

    NDP have a selected honour system.

    The NDP chastized Harper for not honouring Kyoto, but they wanted to pull the troops our of Afghanistan right away even though there is a commitment. Even the BLOC realized you have to honour commitments.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 AM  

  • Dalton McGuinty hates Harper too much to be pissed at Iggy for voting no. And the BC Libs are Libs in name only, so any animosity towards the fed Libs wouldn't come as a surprise. Making an enemy of Campbell could make Iggy a friend of the BC NDP, who appear to be popular right now

    So, vote no, then hammer the Cons with four words:

    Tax And Spend Conservatives

    By Anonymous Paul Raposo, at 10:17 AM  

  • Iggy has said he'd support it, at least according to McGuinty.

    Once again by the Libs. indecisiveness it would seem their view is irrelevant. It will pass.It does not matter how they vote.

    Libs. will get their knickers in a knot while the rest of Canada goes about their business.The Libs are not really that important anymore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:35 AM  

  • It will pass.

    With a vote from the Bloc.

    Not only is Harper taxing Canadians during a recession, he's doing so with the help of Separatists.

    By Anonymous Paul Raposo, at 11:54 AM  

  • Wouldn't this be a good opportunity for the Liberals to attack the NDP for flip-flopping? First they were against comsumption taxes when the GST was introduced, then they were for consumption taxes when Harper was lowering the GST, now they're against consumption taxes again.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 1:11 PM  

  • Option 2 is only a good option if an election is coming very soon. HST is good policy, and isn't going to have the kind of negative effects ascribed to it. The number of goods that will go up in price visibly is small, unlike the case for the GST. Many provinces have made the transition with minimal impact. Finally, even if opposition to HST runs 60-40, sharing the "anti" position with the NDP (and probably Greens) is not necessarily a winner.

    I think option 3 is the best. The Liberals need both unity, policy credibility and plausible deniability if HST does turn out badly. As I do not think an election is imminent, I lean against option 2. Option 1, moreover, might cause a rift in the caucus, and eliminate any ability for the Liberals to capitalize on the issue if it does turn out to be very unpopular.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:05 PM  

  • "Not only is Harper taxing Canadians during a recession, he's doing so with the help of Separatists."

    1. There are substantial offsets built into the HST (plus multi-billion dollar sweeteners) - the government is losing revenue, not gaining it.

    2. Please explain to me why it is advantageous for us to tax every stage of the manufacturing process, but only at the provincial level? To get lumber you need timber, to get chairs you need lumber - why tax this twice? How is it beneficial to consumers to do so? How is it beneficial to businesses, particularly, when they are taxed differently at the federal level? How does this help create jobs?

    3. 1. To paraphrase my mom, if all the federalist opposition parties were jumping off a bridge, would you?

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:11 PM  

  • "... First they were against comsumption taxes when the GST was introduced ,,, " So were the LIEberals. In fact that is the only time I voted for them. They PROMISED thast the Grits Support Tories (GST) tax would be abolished/changed and never did annything about it. That is why I call them LIEberals.

    " ... then they were for consumption taxes when Harper was lowering the GST ..." Did not Iggy say that he would raise it back to 7% if he got to be PM? Therefore, who wants to raise your taxes? That will be a great campaign strategy ... raising taxes.

    One of the biggest taxes is about to start - the Cap & Trade, a tax on everything from power you use to ther heating fuel that keeps your home warm in winter. This will be the Cons fall from power, by agreeing to this tax.

    Global WArming is being proven fake right now and carbon is not a danger to mankind. In fact without carbon plants would not grow. Anything to do with carbon can be dismissed.

    I do not think we should be hard on DeYawn though. When he was Enviroment Minister the carbon footpring raised 30% ... did he know that the numbers were fixed from the start and never did anything? So, therefore, the Cons started with a 30% negative to start off with and I think they did a fairly good job considering they had to start from scratch to where we are today.

    My vote will go to the first party, even LIEberal, that says that Global WArming/Climate change was nothing but a money grab, based on false science that declared "carbon" as a dangerous gas. I do not think the Cons will admidt it, so that leaves you and the Non Democradic Party - or an independent.

    I am thankful though that he has at least made a policy statement .... if he keeps it.

    Paul Raposo said... 11:54 AM " ... he's doing so with the help of Separatists." The Bloc does not care about what happens in Canada, as long as they get their transfer payments and their pension from Canadian tax payer. Rember though, the LIEberals supported the Cons for over 70 votes and the NDP blamed you for keeping the Cons in power.

    I agree mostly withhosertohoosier - good point.

    By Anonymous Clown Party, at 4:12 PM  

  • @hosertohoosier
    @Clown Party

    Tax And Spend Conservatives

    By Anonymous Paul Raposo, at 4:34 PM  

  • The issue is further complicated by the fact that Many in Canada do not see the need for any such Legislation whatsoever on this subject, as Provinces currently have the right to implement such tax agreements with the Government, and that both pending agreements, would be perfectly legal without such legislation.

    Does that open up more options, even possiblly abstaining from such an unecessary bit of 'Nuissance' Legislation? Maybe.

    And let's not forget that the Bloc have only said: "Probably", which often is really just a 'Maybe', and 'Maybe' often means No.

    Like almost everything Harper has a hand in, it is a complicated, uncomfortable mess designed to deflect our eyes from the other complicated, uncomfortable messes that are becoming his trademark.

    By Blogger ********************Donas Kim Leaman, at 4:35 PM  

  • "There is a fourth option.

    Namely, develop an alternative proposal, announce the hell out of it before the vote, and then vote no."

    If I recall correctly, Ignatieff said his objection to the HST mechanism is the mechanism, and not the concept, so this option might work.

    Or not...

    By Blogger Gayle, at 5:02 PM  

  • Gayle, I thought I would never agree with you, yet this time you might have something that the LIEberals can think about. Interesting concept.

    By Anonymous Clown Party, at 5:57 PM  

  • If Ontario wants it, who are we federal Liberals to oppose it? I am no McGuinty fan, and after the "support" he has given federal Liberals over the past few years, we certainly owe him nothing. But I agree with CG. The one difference between us and the NDP and Cons is that we do not base policy on ideology. It seems to be good public policy, Ontario government wants it, so we should support it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:10 PM  

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