Message to Liberals: Drop the GST

By Gord Gekko
web posted July 1996

It was no major surprise that Sheila Copps would be re-elected in the by-election held on June 17. Her personal popularity in that riding made the entire process almost anti-climatic. Her convincing victory over the other candidates was hardly surprising, although the Reform Party's poor showing was.

Why was she re-elected? While the GST debate did not help her, the residents of her riding decided that is was more important to have an high profile minister than to register their displeasure with the federal government's waffling on the GST.

What her win does do is give credibility to the government's decision. Paul Martin's apology to Canadians about the reversal was wiped out. The residents of that riding decided that it was no longer important to free Canadian individuals and business from a prosperity killing tax. By re-electing Copps, the members of her riding have given sanction to the Chretien government's final decision. While the rest of the country has yet to speak at the poll boxes, it has given the government the mandate to continue in their efforts to harmonize the GST with the various provincial sales taxes across the country.

We all saw the Prime Minister, back in the days when he was running for the job, continually hammering at the Progressive Conservative government for the 38 tax increases (including the GST) they brought in during their tenure. Creating Opportunity (AKA The Red Book) stated thusly:

"...the GST has undermined public confidence in the fairness of the tax system."

"In the first session of a new Parliament, a Liberal government will give the all-party
Finance Committee of the House of Commons a 12-month mandate to consult fully with Canadians and provincial governments and to report on ways to achieve tax fairness, simplicity, and harmonization...A Liberal government will replace the GST with a system that generate equivalent revenues, is fairer to consumers and to small business..." Creating Opportunity, page 22

"A Liberal government will replace the GST." Creating Opportunity (Concise Guide), page 4

"The Mulroney GST will disappear. I am opposed to the GST. I have always been opposed to it, and I will be opposed to it always." Jean Chretien, October 1990

So opposed to the GST, the Liberals caused a constitutional crisis by attempting to block the GST passing through the Senate, only averted when Mulroney named eight stooges to the Senate.

The changes to the GST are not a replacement. The GST is essentially the same now as it was when it was introduced by the Mulroney government. It will still be an incredible drag on the economy. It will still cost this nation big money to collect and enforce the tax. It will still cost this nation untold dollars in production.

The only positive in this whole fiasco is that the Conservative tax has become the Liberal tax. No longer can the GST be linked to the former P.C. government. With the changes introduced by the Chretien regime, the GST has now become Chretien's tax. In the next Federal election, Conservative's can flog the government with their own promises and actions.

With this in mind I call on the government to dismantle the $18 billion GST completely with no replacement. As Abolitionist candidate John Turmel pointed out during the by-election, "What a waste of time, talking GST. $18 billion dollars is raised by the Goods and Services Tax and all they promised was to find a way to tax you the same amount of money with you not seeing it. The prices are still going to come to $115 dollars whether or not it's the price with or without GST or a manufacturer's tax. So changing it wins nothing."

Taxation is in itself immoral. No government has the right to tax a citizen without their consent. A government is granted a monopoly of force to protect our rights, not to infringe upon them. Taking the efforts of production forcibly is an immoral use of government power. A first step in recognition of this fact would be for any government to eliminate GST, PST or VAT style taxes. These taxes directly punish capitalist trade, something completely immoral in a free society.

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