Senior Tory not aware of plan
to cut the GST
[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:15 p.m. November 18, 2005]
OTTAWA — A senior Conservative MP said Friday that he is not aware of any discussion in the party to make an election promise to cut the GST.
"We haven't discussed that," said Conservative House leader Jay Hill after question period. "Not in my presence."
The National Post reported Friday that Conservative sources said the party is considering a plan to cut the much-hated GST tax to five per cent from seven per cent.
The cut in the tax would come in two one-point reductions over the duration of a Conservative government.
An MP told the Post about plans to even possibly run pre-Christmas ads focusing on the GST promise.
William Stairs, a spokesman for Conservative leader Stephen Harper,
called the Post story "false."
"There's no plan to cut the GST by two per cent," he said.
Hill was asked about the GST after he said his party was now reconsidering its plan to support a government motion to implement a retroactive tax cut
announced by Finance Minister Ralph Goodale this week.
While delivering his economic statement, Goodale said the government would introduce a motion in the House to have the basic personal exemption increased $500 and the rate in the lowest bracket dropped to 15 per cent to 16 per cent.
If the motion is passed, the cut would become effective starting in January 1 of this year.
But Hill said his party was reconsidering supporting that motion - which would be a confidence motion - because "there could be a better way to deliver tax cuts."
"I think that Canadians will have their chance to pass judgment in the coming election on the tax packages of all political parties."
On Thursday, Deputy Conservative Leader Peter MacKay said the Conservatives could vote against the tax cut to prevent the government from heading off an election by proroguing the House before a non-confidence vote is held on November 28.
Government House Leader Tony Valeri is expected
to have a vote on the retroactive tax cut on either Monday or
The GST was passed in 1990 by Brian Mulroney's Conservative government.
A poll taken before the 1993 campaign showed 80 per cent of Canadians disliked the tax on goods and services.
In February of 1993 then Liberal leader Jean Chretien promised to scrap the GST and replace
it with a system that generated the same revenues.
"You will judge me by that," Chretien said. "If the GST is not gone, I will have a tough time, the election after that. It's the only specific promise that I'm making very clear, and it is going, it's gone."
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