IN THE HOUSE ~ Question Period ~ pressing the Harper government on the HST

41st Parliament, 1st Session ~ Context : Question Period

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister sent the premier of B.C. home empty-handed with no agreement to reduce the $1.6 billion payback on the hated HST, money that will have to come from health and education B.C. families rely on, no recognition of two years of HST revenue already collected, and no agreement to fast-track the dismantling of the HST British Columbians have voted against.

    Why is “No” the only thing B.C. families ever hear from the Ottawa Conservatives? The HST was a Conservative mistake. Why is the Prime Minister making B.C. families pay for it?

    Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as we have said all along, provincial taxation is a provincial responsibility. The government of British Columbia has decided to enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada in order to harmonize its provincial sales tax with the GST. Subsequently there was a change of mind. In the meantime, pursuant to the terms of the agreement, a certain sum had been provided by the federal government to the provincial government. Since the agreement is not proceeding, that sum needs to be returned and the B.C. government has acknowledged the accuracy of that.

    Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I was in the House on December 9, 2009, when the Prime Minister and these Ottawa Conservatives voted to impose the HST on British Columbians. Conservatives are the ones who are responsible.

    When we talk about B.C. government ministers, they are saying they could move faster to remove the hated HST if they would get co-operation from the federal government. The government is not co-operating. The government has no transition plan and is stalling. It is taking nearly twice as long to remove the HST than it took to bring it in in the first place. Why are Conservatives refusing to take their hated HST off? Why will they not listen to B.C. families? Where is the transition plan?

    Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, what total nonsense. Here is a member of the House of Commons who stands and says the federal government, the federal Parliament voted to impose something on a provincial government that is solely a matter of provincial responsibility. Have you never read the BNA Act? Have you never looked at the Canadian--

    The Speaker: Order. The Minister of Finance should remember to address his remarks through the Chair and not directly at other members.