Monday, September 28, 2009

Councillor wants HST on city ballot

If city councillor Michael Walker has his way, Toronto voters won't just be picking a new mayor and council in the 2010 election -- they'll also be weighing in on the province's harmonized sales tax.

Walker and fellow councillor Cliff Jenkins want city council to approve their call for a plebiscite in next November's municipal election that would ask whether Torontonians feel the province should have implemented the HST and if the controversial tax change should be continued. The call is on the agenda for this week's council meeting, which starts Wednesday.

"(The provincial government) may think it's a sleeper and (Premier Dalton) McGuinty may think he got away with it because of the byelection but it's hard for people to put their minds around it this far away from implementation," the St. Paul's councillor told the Sun yesterday.

The Liberals handily won a provincial byelection Sept. 17 in St. Paul's despite the fact both PC candidate and Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy and NDPer Julian Heller tried to make an issue out of the looming HST.

"There are a lot of things that are going to have new taxes on them and people are going to be mad as hell," Walker said. "It's not due to be implemented until next July but you watch what happens once it's implemented."

Although the province is bringing the tax in, Walker stressed it is a municipal issue.

"The City of Toronto is the financial centre of the country, the centre of the province," he said. "It's a huge consumer and producer of goods and services: We have a definite interest."

City council can include any question on its election ballot provided the provincial government approves the wording of the question asked.

And although the election will come after the tax has been implemented, Walker said he's confident a strong plebiscite vote against the HST could change the government's course.


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