Liberals could reverse GST cut: Dion
Politics Watch « News Services
October 30, 2007, updated 1:45 p.m.
|Liberal leader Stephane Dion.
OTTAWA (PoliticsWatch.com) —
Liberal leader Stephane Dion said Wednesday if elected the
Liberals may raise the unpopular Goods and Services Tax.
Dion's comments came hours before his party planned to
abstain in the House of Commons, allowing a government ways and
means motion that would introduce $60 billion in new tax cuts to
tax cuts include lowering the GST one percentage point effective
January 1, 2008.
The one-point cut would bring the GST to five per cent from the
current six per cent rate. It's the second one-point cut the
Conservatives have made to the tax since being elected last
"We will consider if in our plan we need to revisit the decision of the government about the GST. We'll consider it," Dion told reporters after a Liberal caucus meeting.
"It's $34 billion. That means six to seven billion dollars every year on an ill-advised choice and so we will make this debate. We will not be alone. We know that a lot of people will say it is the wrong decision for Canada and when the election will come we'll say to Canadians what we'll do with it."
While economists are in agreement that income tax cuts are better
than cuts to consumption taxes like the GST, a reversal of the tax
cut may not sit well with average voters and would likely be
Dion's comments stunned most Press Gallery reporters in attendance
at his scrum, especially given the questions that have been raised
from Liberals over recent weeks about his ability to lead the
As Dion spoke, reporters immediately started firing off BlackBerry
messages and contacting Liberal caucus sources to inform them of
their leader's latest comments.
A senior Liberal later explained to reporters that there are other
priorities for the federal government than cutting taxes, such as
infrastructure, and average people may not be so happy with their
$13 a month savings from the GST cut "when the Gardiner
Expressway comes crashing down on them."
The Liberal's forceful and vivid spin against cutting the GST
prompted one reporter to quip, "Why didn't Dion say
Dion's public musing about raising the GST means the Liberals have
come full circle from their position in the early 1990s when then
Liberal leader Jean Chretien promised to scrap the
much-detested tax if elected.
When the Liberals broke that promise Canadians were so outraged that
Liberal cabinet minister Sheila Copps resigned to uphold a
commitment she made to a television audience during the 1993
campaign if the tax wasn't rescinded. Copps was later re-elected in
Despite Dion's criticisms about the GST cut, the Liberals will for
the second time in two weeks abstain on a confidence vote and allow
the new tax measures to pass in the House of Commons. The Liberals
are trying to avoid forcing a federal election which most polls show
they cannot win.
When asked by reporters how many times the Liberals can abstain in
Parliament without looking weak, Dion said, "Canadians
understand, I think, that we are strong for them and we will choose
our time to defeat this government."
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae declined to positively
spin repeated Liberal abstentions when asked the same question by
"I think that's a question that you should direct to Mr. Dion
and the House leadership because I'm not in the House."
© Politics Watch News Services 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Politics Watch content, including by framing, copying, linking or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Public Interests Research and Communications Inc (PIRCINC). Fees and charges may be applicable for the copying and or redistribution of Politics Watch content. Politics
Watch « is registered trademark of PIRCINC.