Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thomas Mulcair: Looking out for number one

Future NDP leadership candidate (assuming Martin Cauchon doesn't defeat him in the next election) Thomas Mulcair asked the following question of the government he's propping-up in question period on Monday, regarding the HST:

Thomas Mulcair (NDP): (Voice of Translator): Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives are busying themselves harmonizing sax tax increases in Ontario and British Columbia, Quebec is still waiting. Still waiting for the compensation it's owed after having harmonizeed its tax in THE '90s. 6 billion here. Instead of his usual boasting, can the minister of national revenue for once in his life answer the following question: When will Quebec finally be compensated?

Here Mulcair, as the NDP often does, is jumping on a BQ talking-point to try to curry favour in Quebec. If Ontario and BC are getting money to harmonize sales taxes now, why not Quebec, he asks, which harmonized some years ago.

Even if you accepted retroactive compensation as valid and not a cash-grab, why is Mulcair, whose party staunchly opposes the HST, not arguing for retroactive compensation for the other provinces that have previously harmonized?

Why isn't Mulcair demanding compensation for New Brunswick or Newfoundland? And why isn't he demanding compensation for Nova Scotia, home of NDP Premier Darrel Dexter?

No, it seems Mulcair is only concerned about Quebec, and not the Atlantic HST provinces. And I'm sure it has nothing to do with his Quebec seat being in trouble, and his not so secret dreams of replacing Jack Layton being on the rocks...

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Robert McClelland said...

why is Mulcair, whose party staunchly opposes the HST, not arguing for retroactive compensation for the other provinces that have previously harmonized?

Have they asked for it like Quebec is?

BTW, you sound like Steve Janke now.

Jeff Jedras said...

Have they asked for it like Quebec is?

If you only did want provincial governments wanted, you wouldn't be disagreeing with the decisions of the BC and Ontario governments to harmonize.

If retroactive compensation is right for one it should be right for all, not just Mulcair's home province. Unless you'd care to explain the nuance to Nfld, NS and NB.

BTW, you sound like Steve Janke now.

Coming from Janke's orange cousin, that's amusing indeed.

devinjohnston said...

One possibility is that Mulcair, being a Member of Parliament and not being the leader of a national political party, is doing what all good MP's are supposed to do: fight for the interests of his constituents on the federal stage.

By the way, did Mulcair explicitly reject compensation for other provinces? "I like apples" does not imply "I do not like bananas".

Mark said...

This is a complete lie. Quebec has never harmonized its tax. Mulcair sat in the provincial government. He knows this to be the case.

Quebec merged their sales taxes without agreeing to harmonize.

kinch said...

He's a Quebec MP and is representing his constituents in the House of Commons.

Just because he doesn't mention other provinces, doesn't make him think they don't deserve compensation either. That is faulty logic.

Liberal and Conservative MPs ask questions in the house of commons specifically about their constituencies or provinces as well.

Representing your constituency in the federation is still a job of an MP. That is why they are called representatives.

RayK said...

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador were given federal compensation back in 1996 when they first harmonized their sales taxes.

Quebec was not given this compensation--presumably because they had already announced (though not implemented) a harmonized sales tax before the pay-for-play deals were struck between the federal goverment and the three Atlantic provinces.

That's the issue Mulcair is raising--and I believe it has been the position of the NDP that Quebec was unfairly singled out back in 1996 ever since this thing first happened. That is a totally different issue than the NDP's general opposition to paying provinces to adopt the HST.

(And, BTW, what's with all the Mulcair leadership gibberish? Could the guy run for leader someday? Sure. But the only people I hear active discussing this are Liberals.)

Mark said...

Wrong - Quebec's tax is not harmonized.

If it were harmonized, it would be collected by Ottawa via the GST - but it's not. Quebec insists on running its own tax system, with its own bureaucrats, thereby negating the economies of scale and reduction of duplication that the other provinces have achieved for both levels of government through their HST agreements, and negating any justifiable claim to a share in those cost savings.

Further, the compensation to the three HST provinces stems from their actual loss of tax revenue incurred by harmonization (their combined effective tax rates went to 15% from previous rates which were actually higher - as high as 19.8%.

Further still, Quebec's PST component of its so-called "Harmonized tax" is still imposed on top of GST, so Quebecers pay a "tax on the tax" - this is contrary to the true harmonization which exists in other provinces. The effective rate of taxation in QC isn't 12.5%, but instead 12.88%.

Until Quebec agrees to make similar changes, it has no legitimate claim to compensation.

Mulcair knows this. Or he ought to.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by bloggers against bullshit.

JG said...

Flaherty's answer to Mulcair in the House conceeds that Qubec did harmonize.
Mulcair seeks fair treatment for his constituents.- normal
The Minister avoids answering the question. - typical

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, as I recall, the member for Outremont was in fact a member of the government in Quebec that chose to enter into a harmonization with the Government of Canada at the time.

Now he says the Ontario government is wrong to harmonize, the British Columbia government is wrong to harmonize, and Quebec should have full harmonization.

What is this inconsistency? What is this lack of understanding of the process that the provincial governments follow, including the government that he was part of?