Keep up the heat on HST fight

I hope this column finds you and your family well.
This week is all about the HST and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s forced vote on that issue in the House of Commons.
Mr. Harper said last week that he will introduce legislation in the House of Commons sometime between Monday and Friday to implement and enable the creation of a 13 percent Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario.
Mr. Harper has been very successful to date in sticking it to “Iggy” [Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff] over and over, but it’s too bad that this time he had to stick it to the people of Northwestern Ontario at the same time to achieve his petty little goal.
It’s been both sad and funny to hear Mr. Harper maintain for the last several months (indeed, since the introduction of his last budget in March) that implementing an HST was solely the right and obligation of the provinces. But he knew this was not true the whole time, and an internal memo obtained by the Globe and Mail (which, oddly enough, coincided with the announcement of the new HST bill) contains the following words from its Conservative author:
“If the framework legislation is rejected before Christmas, we will not revisit the issue. Not next year. Not after the next election.”
Finally, the truth—Mr. Harper could have stopped the 13 percent HST all along and saved taxpayers a cool $4.3 billion in the process.
I strongly believe the coming federal HST vote is all about the trust and integrity of individual MPs. Voters across Canada elected individual MPs to represent their interests in Ottawa.
Any and all MPs, including myself and Kenora’s Greg Rickford, knew there would be some tough choices to make in Ottawa on occasion, and that these choices may split you from the rest of your caucus.
Likewise, all federal candidates must have understood that it even could be necessary to break party ranks if the people you represent demand it or otherwise need you to do so.
Now, either Mr. Rickford doesn’t know that his constituents are massively opposed to the HST, or he is simply choosing to follow the orders given him by Mr. Harper’s PMO.
So you know, when I’m not sure what to do on an issue or want to see how much support my personal position on the issue has, I tend to ask for your opinion through a mail survey to your household.
I undertook a survey on the long gun registry for this very reason. In that case, your words and feedback gave me much strength that sustained me through many tough issue debates in Ottawa.
In the end, I was comfortable and proud to stand and vote because I knew I was doing right by you.
Now, we can’t blame Greg for not seeking the opinions of his constituents because, frankly, he knows how they feel and Conservatives just don’t do things like seek out and respect the opinions of others.
While it seems hope is fading fast in our fight against the HST, we can—and should—continue to keep the pressure on Harper until he kills his ill-conceived $4.3-billion taxpayer-funded political bribe. Here are some ideas as to how we can keep the heat on Harper:
•You can learn more, and tell your friends about the details of the HST, at www.unfairtaxgrab.com;
•Download and/or print a petition on the issue at http://tinyurl.com/HST-FederalPetition-M-462;
•If you would like to start a letter-writing campaign, then you can find a draft letter to Harper’s 49 Ontario Conservative MPs and their local office contact information at http://tinyurl.com/OntarioConservative-MPs-M-462; and
•You can join my Facebook group that was created to support my private member’s motion (M-462) which will stop the Harper government’s $4.3 billion federal transfer to McGuinty’s Liberals.
You can join that group at http://tinyurl.com/Rafferty-M-462
In an interesting side note, more than 5000 members have joined this online group in just the first three weeks that it has been posted.
In the end, folks, I have no idea how this will all play out. It would be interesting to hear what local Liberals are saying about this because it’s all up to “Iggy” now, and both he and his finance critic have said publicly that they support the Harper-McGuinty HST scheme.
Let’s hope the Liberal leader will do one of his infamous flip-flops (remember the carbon tax?) so that we can kill this regressive and hurtful tax before it can begin.
Until next week . . . John.

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