Harmonizing the province’s sales tax with the GST was indeed blipping on the government’s radar prior to the 2009 election, according to documents that were released yesterday.
One document, a Ministry of Finance briefing note from March 2009, warns that while harmonization would result in long-term economic gain, it would also “cause a short-term loss in GDP and unemployment.”
The note warns that it may be five or more years before the impact on GDP is positive.
The Liberals have denied considering harmonizing the sales taxes prior to May’s provincial elections.
“These documents prove that they weren’t telling the truth — it was on their radar,” NDP Leader Carole James said.
“They weren’t honest with (the public) during the election. And they weren’t honest with them after the election.”
Finance Minister Colin Hansen said the documents are not evidence that the government was planning to implement the tax. Staff were simply researching current tax policy, he said.
On Aug. 25, 2009, Premier Gordon Campbell told the CBC that the HST “wasn’t anywhere on our radar” during May’s provincial election.