Premier Dalton McGuinty is telling Ontario consumers to swallow their medicine — the HST.

Ontario’s Liberal party yesterday launched a TV ad featuring McGuinty dressed casually and sitting in a leafy backyard setting as he talks about the coming merged tax and his government’s plan to grow the economy.

“Ontario is coming out of this global recession sooner and stronger than anyone expected,” McGuinty says in the 60-second spot dubbed Strong Medicine.

“Because of the hard work of Ontarians, we are again leading Canada in economic growth.”

“But to create more jobs, top economists agree the single most important thing we can do is adopt the HST.”

The TV spot was scheduled to run during newscasts across Ontario, starting last night at 6 p.m. The ad will also run online until July 1 — the day the harmonized sales tax takes effect in Ontario.

The HST will combine the existing eight per cent PST and the five per cent GST into a single 13 per cent sales tax.

Critics note tax harmonization will increase the cost of many items that were previously exempt from the provincial sales tax — from gasoline to Internet bills, haircuts and real estate fees.

McGuinty acknowledges during the ad that “some things will cost more” but says tax relief is being provided for some people to help ease the transition.

“I know the HST is strong medicine, but it’s what we need to build a strong economy, so we can have the best schools, health care and quality of life,” McGuinty says.

NDP finance critic Peter Tabuns said McGuinty made the ad to protect himself politically and called it a waste of money.

“I think people know that the HST is going to make life a lot less affordable,” Tabuns said. “I don’t think any television advertising is going to change that.”

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