Ontario’s controversial harmonized sales tax is here to stay— no matter who wins the next federal or provincial elections, documents confirm.

Buried in the fine print of the accord between Ottawa and Queen’s Park last March is a clause that ensures the new 13 per cent tax, which takes effect July 1, remains at that rate until at least 2012.

While Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday he was “not familiar” with the minutiae of the four-page memorandum of agreement, it also stipulates the HST must be in place through 2015.

McGuinty emphasized it was important for both levels of government to give the levy, which blends the eight per cent provincial sales tax with the five per cent federal GST, a strong foundation.

“Our intention is simply to put in place a tax system that is modern and efficient and that enhances our competitiveness and enables us to create more jobs — that’s what it’s all about,” the premier told reporters.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who co-signed the pact with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said Ottawa insisted upon the provisions.