"A powerfully problematic ultimatum to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff"
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.
Personally, I hope he chooses option 1, if only because the HST legislation is good policy and that should count for something, right? Right?