Tuesday, August 8, 2006

No Help at the Pump from Harper

What happened to the Conservative 3-point plan for gas tax relief? In the 2004 election, Stephen Harper vowed to eliminate the 7 per cent GST on any portion of gas prices above 85 cents per litre. He also promised to halt Ottawa’s practice of applying the GST to the full price of gasoline, including federal and provincial excise taxes – the tax on tax.

It seems that things have changed now that the conservatives are in power.

Gas tax relief is not one of Harper’s five priorities. And the problem is one of balancing the books. His 1 percent cut in the GST across the board will cost an estimated $360 million a year in lost gasoline revenues. If Mr. Harper stopped heaping the GST on the full cost of gas, ending the “tax on tax,” the Canadian Taxpayers Federation calculates that it would cost the government an extra $540-million. That would take a big bite out of the budget.

It’s funny how things have changed, now that the conservatives are in power. A September 2005 (conservative) news release states, “The Conservative party is the only political party that favours lowering gas prices. Stephen Harper is the only leader who wants to lower high gas prices and the Conservative party is the only party standing up for Canadians and advocating lower, not higher, gas prices.”

This is yet another example of Stephen Harper making promises while in opposition with no realistic plans to honour them. Rather than indicating how he is going to help Canadians deal with higher gas prices in the long term, Harper’s response to date has been “get used to it.”

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