Think of proposed HST as a gas tax

As this column was being written last week, I found myself “on call” for votes in the House of Commons on the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which can best be thought of as a new eight percent gas tax for the people of Northern Ontario.
I strongly oppose this new gas tax, as do all of my New Democrat colleagues in the House of Commons and Queen’s Park, but it will pass federally because Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives, Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals, and those other guys from Quebec support it.
This new gas tax means the families of Northern Ontario again will suffer disproportionately at the hands of their government compared to families in the southern part of the province.
For his part, Mr. Ignatieff probably thinks we all can just jump on public transit if we have a problem with high gas prices, and Mr. Harper probably doesn’t care because he is focused on picking up 10 more seats to get his majority in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver and other places where people have travel options.
Here in Northern Ontario, we rarely have such options. When we drive to work, visit family and friends, pick up our mail, and go grocery shopping, we have to drive—and the federal Conservatives and Liberals have chosen to make those daily activities eight percent more expensive for us starting July 1, 2010.
There are many Conservative and Liberal MPs from our region, and from around the country, who claim to care about gas pricing, but they sat all too ready last Thursday to cast a vote which will increase those same prices eight percent at the bat of their leaders’ eye.
Greg Rickford (Kenora) should be asked why he has chosen to raise the price of a tank of gas by $4 for every person in his riding? The same can be asked of Anthony Rota (Nippissing-Timiskaming) and Tony Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka).
Each of our ridings depend heavily on tourism and a healthy flow of American travellers to help drive our local economies, so why are New Democrat MPs the only ones fighting this huge government-sponsored eight percent hike in the price of gas?
The short answer is that the Conservative and Liberal MPs cited above have sold out their constituents to help some faraway friends in big cities while New Democrat MPs have stood up in the House of Commons to defend the interests of our friends and families in small towns.
It now has to be said, without any doubt or confusion, that the Conservatives and Liberals simply don’t understand Northern Ontarians—or simply don’t care about how their policies and actions affect families living at the top of our electoral map.
It’s like we don’t even exist to the big thinkers in the Conservative and Liberal parties. What’s worse is that the MPs on the “blue” team and the “red” team from our region have done absolutely nothing to change this sad fact.
Simply put, what needs to happen now is that the people of Northern Ontario must wipe the Conservatives and Liberals completely off the face of our electoral map since we have long ago been wiped off the face of theirs.
As I wrapped up this column, I was being called to a vote in the House of Commons. The Liberal Party and the Conservative Party have decided—together—that they want their HST legislation passed quickly, and have agreed to change the standing orders of the House of Commons so there can be no debate and so no witnesses can be called to testify about the HST in committee.
The members of those parties simply do not have the courage to call and hear from witnesses who cannot afford to pay the hundreds of extra dollars in taxes the HST will foist upon their families, so they simply have chosen to ram this legislation through Parliament in order to spare themselves the pain of democracy.
And to subject you to the pain of an eight percent increase in the price of gas.
Until next week, John.

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