Sunday, March 28, 2010

On cowardice

Leftdog has already pointed out the Sask Party's declaration that simply have to try to push the HST onto Saskatchewan. And not surprisingly, I'll have plenty more to say on the topic - particularly after the Wall government's ideological cousins in the B.C. Lib government imposed the tax shift onto citizens after running a campaign where they similarly claimed they didn't have any plans to do so.

But for now, let's note one other interesting aspect of Gantefoer's handling of the issue, as both before and after Gantefoer's backtracking he's basically said that he wants corporate Saskatchewan to push the issue so the government won't have to:
Gantefoer said in a Friday morning speech in Saskatoon that he’d welcome that debate.
“I think there should be a good and wholesome debate in Saskatchewan beginning now if the business community sees fit that that is appropriate. I expect and would welcome the debate going into the next election.”

The finance minister stopped at the Saskatoon Inn to sell his budget to the business community. He spoke about reducing spending, growing Saskatchewan exports to Asian economies and maintaining investments in post-secondary education.

Later on Friday, Gantefoer's office sent out a media release that said, "business groups and other may have this debate" but the government's opposition to HST remains unchanged.
In effect, Gantefoer's position looks to be a twisted version of FDR's "I agree with you. I want to do it. Now make me do it." response to activists within his own party. But there's one key difference, being that he isn't honest enough to say he agrees with the HST in principle since he doesn't want to wear the political cost of that position.

And it'll be a surprise if at least some of the business community doesn't take up the invitation and try to force the issue - presumably with plenty of cheerleading from the province's corporate media. See for example Bruce Johnstone's delightful new argument that we should assume based on zero evidence that Manitoba will suddenly reverse course, leaving Saskatchewan as the lone non-harmonized province.

But there's good news in the fact that the Sask Party wants to let big business do the actual work in selling the HST. After all, the Wall government tried the same strategy when it came to nuclear power, and was forced to back down once it realized that it's people rather than dollars who ultimately get their say at the polls. And hopefully Gantefoer's obvious fear of letting any positive comment about the HST stand will help to make sure we don't waste too much time on the subject.

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