9 thoughts on “Mixed reaction greets news of HST increase

  1. In all fairness, I don’t think it’s fair to paint them all with the same brush, David, as I do believe many CFIB members (and CTF members for that matter) were lock step and barrel with you on your position on NB Power as they saw cutting debt at the utility as a good policy since business taxes would continue to remain low and power prices competitive for business (who are the backbone of our region). If anything, they are consistent.

    And let’s face it, no one likes to see taxes raised nor do they like to see policies that hurt consumers and those that sell to those particular consumers (and let me tell you, Nova Scotians are being gouged as I see evidence of this every day as citizens of Cumberland county flee their region for greener pastures…or should I say better prices at the neighboring border). I wouldn’t want to even wage a guess at the millions in revenue lost to both entrepreneurs and the government’s who tax them due to this regressive taxation/policy.

    However, that said, Nova Scotian’s did vote unanimously for an NDP government last summer. So unlike the Graham government who was elected with a weak mandate, the Dexter adminmistration came in with a very strong mandate for change (a huge, sweeping majority). One, yes, that did promise specifically not to raise taxes, but regardless, they were granted a strong mandate just the same. And with strong mandates comes strong decisions, in this particular case, a way to deal with the growing fiscal problem originating at province house. So as much as it’s a bit of a surprise to voters in that province, it’s not a surprise to me that there was less outrage, as there was numerous times in NB, as Dexter was voted in to do things very differently. And he knew that.

    I give him credit for that. He’s much like Frank McKenna in that sense as he [Dexter] did a much better job at reading the political tea leaves for potential pitchforks blow back than did Graham.

  2. Observation on the issue of campaign rhetoric. NS Premier promises not to raise taxes, and within six months does so, dramatically. NB Premier promises to “maintain NB Power as a publicly owned untility” (and the NB/HQ deal would have done that, it wasn’t a privatization), and three years later discovers there is an opportuity to make a directional change and gain long term advantages.
    Dexter directly and immediately contravenes his promise. Graham lives up to the letter of his, but is excoriated nevertheless. I’m not arguing here for fairness, just suggesting that we should consider campaign “promises” as what they are – campaign rhetoric and declarations of best intentions. The last thing we should do is demand that they be upheld when circumstances and all logic say otherwise (e.g. lifting TCH tolls).

  3. I think the central issue is much the same as in New Brunswick, at least politically, if they specifically promised not to raise taxes. One wonders whether they would have the same ‘huge mandate’ that they currently have. Raising the HST though at least makes a little sense since that was (albeit a small) reason behind lowering the GST. The idea was that its less money for the feds, more for the province.

    It still doesn’t deal with the underlying problem though, the reason people DON”T like to see raising taxes is because it simply goes into general revenues and the only thing they hear about it is huge salaries for public executives, and multimillion dollar pension increases. The FIRST referendum in Richmond, BC, when they brought in citizen initiatives was to raise property taxes for a new water treatment plant and it passed overwhelmingly.

    The US does this as well, if you look at Maine referenda, when they talk about bond releases, its ALWAYS for a very specific project, and thats usually what determines whether it passes or fails. And again, since the wealthy have benefitted disproportionately since the late nineties, then tax increases on wealth is the FIRST place such policies should go.

    However, David’s bias is showing a little too much here. If CORPORATE taxes were being raised and executives were shouting, would it be the same blog post? So long as small businesses and consumers are getting screwed then its ‘right’, but if its huge corporations who already have most of the wealth in the country….

  4. The reaction of the CFIB is typical of their approach. Our business is a member of CFIB and I have tried to get the executive of CFIB to see some sense on issues like this. However, I have realized that the CFIB, although member-financed, is not very open to views that are contrary to those of its executive. Many don’t realize this, but the CFIB (not unlike CAA) are not democratically-run orgs. There are no elections for the exec positions and the ‘surveys’ they carry out are cooked to deliver the response desired. Most members, I suspect, join the CFIB in order to get the reduced rates on various services. I’d like to get my hands on the raw data and response rate for their surveys.

    CFIB has been captured by a group of libertarian nutjobs that live in their own little reality-free world. They don’t speak for me.

  5. I don’t want to be too critical of the CFIB – I met the person here in Moncton and she was quite affable and knowledgeable. My own opinion is that these organizations CFIB, CTA, etc. and many other associations of businesses or people see themselves as defenders of the their little vested interest and not really interested in the bigger picture – the greater good if you’ll allow a cliche. The CFIB has lots of small local service providers/retail that charge HST and the position is that a higher HST will lead to slightly less business for members ergo we are ‘outraged’.

    The broader issue of whether or not government spends too much in Nova Scota or New Brunswick is more complex. My personal belief is that government spending has been outpacing private sector spending as a kind of quasi-economic development effort. We do have more doctors per capita, etc. Now, others will say that smaller populations with high rural populations will always need more government (per capita) because of the lack of population concentration.

  6. First of all Richard, just b/c someone doesn’t speak for you doesn’t make them a “nutjob.” However, it does make you someone that resorts to the use of ad hominems to make a point. And to me, that says a lot about your character.

    Secondly, David raises a good point when he says “associations of businesses or people see themselves as defenders of the their little vested interest and not really interested in the bigger picture[…]”

    In fact, just this year, and last, it was the Canadian Taxpayer Federation (a org that defends both democracy and taxpayers alike) that led in the fight to kill the gun registry, end the wasteful use of ten percenters and OAS to serial killers. They were out in front on all three issues. Not to mention, the Fraser Institute was even more critical of the government’s recent economic strategy than any of the current opposition parties, including the Liberals. So as much as many see these organizations as somehow partisan and biased (looking out for their own interests), I see them as more independent representing their members in the fight against bad policy where sometimes that fight ends up filling a necessary void caused by politicians engaging in superficial games and arguments.

    As for the CFIB in NB? They seem to be challenged by PR and getting their message out as they haven’t updated their website for years. Same goes for the CTF in NB…it doesn’t have resources to make a difference. Too bad b/c even if you disagree with them, they have an overall function and could help fill the void on some issues.

  7. That same communications problem is at work again. Richard said they don’t see ‘the big picture’, not that there weren’t involved in issues. For the gun registry, cops were screaming bloody murder that the registry would be a wonderful thing, then the tories got into power and promised them a ‘tough on crime’ agenda and they seem to have backed off. That’s not really ‘the big picture’. The CTF finds most of its adherents when it talks about ‘government waste’-EVERYBODY hates government waste. But canadians long ago stopped chomping for lower taxes, polls successively show canadians want investment in services as a top priority. The CTF also fights against BOTH a cap and trade system AND a carbon tax, putting them out of touch with Canada’s green majority (I don’t mean the party).

    And part of the problem is that PR. WITHOUT the ‘democracy’ aspect, these organizations are run top down, which means members have no real clout or reason to help with studies or get information out. To use an example, perhaps somebody like Richard would be more helpful if the executive didn’t freeze him out.

    But small businesses are pretty far from ‘libertarian’. Most businesses at one point or another have gotten some kind of subsidy from government. I’d guess that since their big issue at their website is ‘minimum wage’ legislation, that we can make a decent guess as to what kind of businesses most members are-and how much they pay. Every business is ‘libertarian’ right up to the point where they want something paid for by government. High tech industries want better education so it has a bigger labour pool, forestry companies want cheap access to resources, fisheries want no regulations, etc.

  8. @Samonymous

    “Secondly, David raises a good point when he says “associations of businesses or people see themselves as defenders of the their little vested interest and not really interested in the bigger picture[…]””

    That’s obviously not true of the CFIB. A quick visit to their website will confirm that. They are very much interested in the bigger picture – but from a libertarian nutjob perspective. As far as ad hom attacks is concerned, when one spouts nonsense, one should be called on it. Experience shows that there is little point in trying to dialogue with libertarian nutjobs – better just to characterize them accurately. Sorry if you are offended, but a nut is a nut. There is no factural or historical basis for the libertarian philosophy; constantly recommending that that philosophy be adopted is either a sign of irrationality or madness. Take your pick – which applies to you?

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