TORONTO – The Progressive Conservatives are planning to back an NDP
bill to slash the HST on home heating bills when the legislature
returns next week, setting the stage for the first showdown in
Ontario’s minority parliament.
The Tories campaigned on taking
the provincial portion of the HST off heat and electricity bills, as
well as removing the debt retirement charge from hydro, during the Oct.
6 election, Hudak said Wednesday.
“So this is HST off heat only – we’ll support that,” he said after a meeting with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
“It’s not fully what we would like to do. It’s a step in the right direction. The PCs will obviously support that.”
the first sign of a co-ordinated opposition strategy since last month’s
election, which left the governing Liberals one seat short of a
But even though the opposition parties have
more votes combined than the Liberals, it’s unlikely the private
member’s bill on the HST will become law.
The Liberals still
control which bills get called for third and final reading, and have
made it clear that they won’t call up the HST bill.
Dalton McGuinty has been pushing his own agenda instead: a promised
renovation tax credit for seniors to stay in their homes, which he says
makes more economic sense than an HST break.
“I think we need to
be smart and strategic in the kinds of investments that we make,” he
said after visiting Savaria, a Brampton, Ont., company that
manufactures chairlifts and elevators.
“Our … tax credit will
create jobs, taking money off of home heating doesn’t create jobs. The
credit I’m talking about will also save us health-care dollars, so I
just think it’s a smarter approach.”
Finance Minister Dwight
Duncan said he’s open to ideas from the opposition parties, but with
Ontario expected to rack up another $16 billion in red ink this year
alone, his first priority is to balance the budget.
and Horwath are serious about their “reckless” HST cut, they must
provide specific recommendations on how they would come up with the
$350 million a year needed to finance it, he said.
“I suspect the NDP will want us to raise taxes,” Duncan said. “I don’t know that Mr. Hudak would agree with that.”
Once it’s fully implemented, the home renovation tax credit will cost about $136 million a year, he said.
acknowledged that the Liberals will likely need the support of one of
the two opposition parties down the road. But he wouldn’t say how the
government would proceed if the parties demand third reading of the HST
bill in exchange for their support on another piece of legislation.
“Well, we’ll have that debate,” he said.
the party leaders will have their chance to bend McGuinty’s ear on
Friday after weeks of complaints that he isn’t listening to them.
McGuinty has scheduled separate meetings with the two party leaders, saying it’s a matter of “common courtesy.”
Horwath said she’s looking forward to her tete-a-tete with McGuinty and hopes it will be as productive as her meeting with Hudak.
“The Liberals did not form a majority, which means the majority of
people didn’t vote for the Liberals,” she said after emerging from the
“That makes it incumbent on us – Mr. Hudak, Mr. McGuinty and myself – to find the places where we can work together to deliver for everyday families.”
new legislative session will kick off Monday with an election of the
Speaker, followed by the throne speech on Tuesday and an economic
update on Wednesday.