April 4, 1997 Halifax Herald

Sales taxes are an unfair burden for the poor

The dictatorial arrogance displayed by the Mulrony government during the debate leading up to the enactment of the GST outraged the voters. The extent of their anger was evident after the 1993 federal election results were posted; they had reduced the mighty Tory Party to a humiliating two Commons seats.

Chretien's Liberals, capitalizing on the situation, won that election by promising to abolish the tax. Then they did what seems to be the norm among political parties, when it comes to honouring election promises - instead of abolishing the tax, they adopted it as their own and made it more universally applicable.

Before we go any further, let’s understand this: A general sales tax exceeding five percent, and applied to almost everything, is the un-fairest method of taxation possible. At 15 percent, it is indefensible. A tax of this nature is not predicated upon a citizen's ability to pay; instead, by its nature, it is designed specifically to prey upon those who can least afford to pay - the low- and middle-income earners.

Income tax, based on the ability to pay, is the fairest mode of taxation. However, this method has a drawback for politicians; they have to be upfront when setting rates and state specifically how much of a bite is to be taken out of a taxpayer's income. Under the sales tax system, they can, by taxing this and that, fudge it and make it seem that taxes are not as horrendous as they actually are.

User taxes, such as gasoline taxes for highway upkeep, are fair because they tax those who get the most advantage from the service used. However, these taxes are already extremely high; therefore, taxing the tax on them, as the BST does, is inexcusable. In the cases of electricity, home heating fuels and other essential services, this is doubly so. Seeing governments reduced to the spectacle of taxing taxes is a symbol of the appalling mess they've made of our country's finances.

There are among us those who will try to defend the imposition of the GST by stating that it replaces the old manufactures’ and other similar taxes. This is only partially true.

To begin with, the old taxes were set at a more reasonable rate, and did not apply to almost everything. In the case of the new tax, it is even applied to such things as ground, sod and water.

One wonders if the take from this is remitted to God - after all, it's His property!

How did our country get to the point where it has to take unfair advantage of its disadvantaged for financial survival?

The answer is quite simple: For the better part of four decades, the Grits and Tories have consistently tried to outdo the NDP in dreaming up new socialist endeavours.

Resulting from this, we've had imposed on us by quasi-NDP governments, using the guise of Liberal and Tory labels, expensive non-essential luxury social programs. Programs such as these can only be afforded by Nations with vast resource royalty incomes

One of the root causes of Canada's drift into its financial quagmire, a cause which is rarely discussed, was the switch to the Liberal Party of the three wise men of the NDP - Marchand, Pelltier, and Trudeau. After taking power under Trudeau's command, they engineered and implemented extravagant socialist programs and, in the process, abandoned financial responsibility.

However, after saying this, the main underlying cause of taxpayer abuse by governments is that we don't live in a genuine democracy. For instance, in Canada, taxes are imposed without our consent. The powers that be should keep in mind that it was such taxation by the British Imperialists which finally caused the American colonies to revolt.

Let’s quickly examine how the rebels fared afterwards politically. After shucking imperial rule, they set up a system of governance which has citizen primacy as its basic tenet. Thus, the American political system has checks and balances which give the people the means to hold their politicians constantly accountable. Consequently, taxes are not raised without citizens approval. Here, under party imperialism, we have little political accountability and much higher taxes.

The Canadian Senate was originally intended to check and balance the powers of Parliament. Instead, it has become a home for retired or booted-out politicians, symbolizing by its descent into irrelevancy the systemic corruption that governs a political system which, between elections, is aloof from the electorate.

To those who will huff and puff and insist that the system of governance in Canada is democratic, answer these questions: How come power-hungry political parties can do whatever they please between elections, and completely ignore our wishes?

Why do we have the GST when approximately 85 percent of Canadians opposed it? Why is there not a process where we can exercise control over politicians between elections - recall, for instance? The list of these types of questions is almost endless.

Finance Minister Paul Martin on March 10, when trying to defend the government's now-defunct BST tax-in policy, made one of the most hypocritical statements by a politician I've ever heard: "We are very heavily governed by what consumers want..."

One might be excused for asking: If this be true, how come the consumers are saddled with a tax they did not want and can ill afford to pay, especially the poorest and most underprivileged members of society?

Daniel N. Paul


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