HST hike at root of plans to prorogue legislature

Teresa Wright
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Premier Wade MacLauchlan

The work of Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s first year in the legislature will officially close and a new throne speech will be delivered in April a move that has Opposition Leader Jamie Fox worried about a possible HST hike.

The first session of the 65th assembly of the P.E.I. legislature has been ordered for prorogation effective April 1.

Ending a session by prorogation ends all business from that session. All government bills that have not received Royal assent cease to exist.

A new throne speech in April will mark the second throne speech in less than a year. MacLauchlan’s first speech from the throne was delivered last June following the provincial election.

But MacLauchlan says his plan all along was to have a new throne speech in the spring of every year to set the agenda for the year ahead.

“This has been our intention all along to have an annual cycle, a spring and fall sitting with a throne speech to start off the spring sitting,” MacLauchlan said.

“Bringing forward your legislative plan in the spring, you have that time through the Christmas period and winter to work on further policy and legislation… and in some cases if there’s a need for further consideration or to go to committee or to go to some public engagement, then the fall is a good time to do that and bring it into the fall session.”

But Fox questions the timing.

“I’m concerned,” he said.

“This is now the second throne speech in a year. What happened to his plan when he delivered the first throne speech?”He noted the public dialogue about a possible one-point increase to P.E.I.’s Harmonized Sales Tax, spurred by Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil’s call for a united HST rate of 15 per cent across the Atlantic provinces.

New Brunswick has announced it will raise its HST by two percentage points to 15 per cent in July.

The pressure is now on P.E.I. to follow suit.

“Does he have a plan and is the reason why he prorogued have something to do with possibly HST, cuts to jobs and/or programs?” Fox said.

“This has been our intention all along to have an annual cycle, a spring and fall sitting with a throne speech to start off the spring sitting." Premeier Wade MacLauchlan

“He says he’s going to balance the budget this year. Based on what the finance minister said last fall that the deficit was $33 million, I would have to wonder what’s coming up in the spring budget and why he needs a new throne speech.”

The provincial portion of the HST is estimated to bring in $254.7 million this year. A one per cent increase would net approximately $25 million in new revenues for the province.

MacLauchlan was heading to Fredericton Tuesday for a meeting of the Atlantic premiers, but he said HST was not on the agenda for discussion.

He would not say whether an HST increase could be included in P.E.I.’s spring budget.

“We will have to consider it and, really, we’re in the process of budget-making consultations and that’s where it lies. We haven’t taken any position on that,” MacLauchlan said.

“I don’t think it’s for me to say yes or no to anything at this stage when the finance minister is out there trying to do his job.”

Finance Minister Allen Roach remained equally tight-lipped about any potential tax increase. He did say the HST has not yet been discussed as part of his budget planning.

“We need to respect the pre-budget process,” Roach said.

Meanwhile, when the prorogation takes effect in April, a hotly debated bill dealing with disclosure of loan write-offs will die on the order paper.

Government closed the house last December without passing the bill after concerns were raised by Conservative MLAs and Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker the bill was too weak and contained loopholes allowing cabinet the ability to withhold details of loan write offs and debt cancellations from the public if it so chooses.

MacLauchlan says this bill will be brought back to the legislature. When asked if any changes would be made to address the concerns, the premier replied simply, “We’re reviewing that.”

Geographic location: P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick Fredericton

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Recent comments

  • Wasting our money !!!
    February 11, 2016 - 13:40

    I knew during Wades election campaigning he was just a wind bag,nothing changes for the liebriels for sure,and for all the liberal whinners you get what you all voted for,sure as hell I was not voting Liberal. Also three quarters of só called MLAS are from the Ghiz dictatorship did you liberals think this gang would change,lol...they just more greedy and corupt as ever,when will you die hard liberals going to learn,lol,lol

    February 10, 2016 - 21:08

    Why complain now? Do you expect this crew to change just because they said they would to get reelected. They have another three years to bleed this Island dry and for all who voted them in again, you are going down with the rest of us.

  • James
    February 10, 2016 - 20:53

    HST hike + maritime electric hike over the next 3 years, we'll be sunk!

  • Sad truths
    February 10, 2016 - 19:32

    When Wade got elected, I hoped for change on pei, as did many others. I hoped that he would bring new ideas that would spur industries, shed some dead weight from the public service, and shine some light on why government makes some of decisions that they do. Here we are almost a year later and his government has done none of these things. So far they have shown that they are out of ideas and show no desire to make any significant changes. The corruption and rewards to the insiders are going to continue, and the rest of us that struggle to make ends meet are going to struggle even harder under the weight of higher taxes. I guess the expectations of something better were too high.

  • Cromwell
    February 10, 2016 - 17:48

    It has to be recognised that 's PEI's commitment to 'relocate and nourish' 250 Syrians will cost some $30 to $50 million (using Trudeau's economic calculation), a cost that will significantly increase the budget overrun. Since an unwelcome 1% increase in HST will add only $2.5 million (not $24.7 million as claimed), where does the sad old failed administrator, currently posturing as the Island's leader, suggest the rest of the money comes from?

    • sentance
      February 10, 2016 - 19:03

      2.5 million? Do you have even the faintest idea how this works?

  • NoHST
    February 10, 2016 - 17:32

    If the NS premier wants taxes equal, he can lower his HST. The Liberal government's on PEI need stop the thief of taxpayers money. The latest $950k was stolen , this "loan" was not dreamed up by stupid people... We are one of the highest taxed provinces in Canada. I do not want HST raised...what I do want is Recall Legislation. We don't need another King Richard....

  • Dave Anger
    February 10, 2016 - 16:45

    Thought the HST Harper Sheraton tax was supposed to raise all this extra money. But now you need to increase it. We islanders are stupid enough to let you get away with it?

  • intobed
    February 10, 2016 - 14:38

    Wade, drop the HST to 10%, and do a tax exemption on school supplies, clothing, and footwear. The amount of traffic from the mainland over to PEI to get some shopping in will make up for the loss in taxes.

  • laurent Beaulieu
    February 10, 2016 - 14:00

    When you consider that in Europe the value added tax is 23% you have to wonder why people complain here. Do you want a balance budget and fully funded service or not?

    • Karl Proude
      February 11, 2016 - 07:07

      No, all we want is an Honest Government and less MLA,s ,hacks,thefts , give aways ,etc, etc,etc, I don,t know what Europe deals with but I sure know what PEI taxpayers are dealing with.

  • martin
    February 10, 2016 - 11:53

    Please King Wade increase the HST by 3 points so you can balance the budget. Even this mighten achieve a balance budget the way you give money away.

  • Fed up
    February 10, 2016 - 11:18

    We lost a fortune in off Island shoppers when the Liberals started taxing clothing, books and footwear. People would come from N.S. and N.B. Every year to outfit their kids for school....and all the Proms and Grad dances, etc. they are so greedy....spend like there's no tomorrow...travel...live on expense claims....then up the taxes to cover it all! All those voters who supported Wade....hope they're proud!

  • MFH
    February 10, 2016 - 10:04

    I think we can expect to get a royal shafting from this bunch. Dishonesty and corruption seem to be their method of operation.

  • Rob
    February 10, 2016 - 09:34

    1 per cent of 254 million is 2.5 million, not 25 million. Maybe this is why they're incapable of balancing the books.

    • Quiet Observer
      February 10, 2016 - 14:01

      Rob, it's not 1%. It is an increase of 1% from 14% to 15%, which is a 7.14% increase, which is about $18.5 million. Still doesn't egual $25 million, but at least a little cloaser.

    • sentance
      February 10, 2016 - 19:01

      The provincial part is 9%, so its 9% to 10%, which is $25 million and then some.

    February 10, 2016 - 08:44

    A snake can shed its skin, but it grows back and is just as deadly. Enough said.

  • Quiet Observer
    February 10, 2016 - 08:42

    I had high hopes for this government under Wade. Those hopes are dieing quickly. Brings to mind lyrics by the Who, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

  • Islander
    February 10, 2016 - 07:22

    Each time this guy speaks he is showing us that he does not have a glue what he is doing. Loans write offs ti his friends will die. Stop the mistruths, non transparency, non accountability, all of which we were promised. No better than the last bunch. Dont forget he still the majority to the last bunch. Real lot of respectable people???

  • olddog70
    February 10, 2016 - 06:25

    Wow this bunch are even slimier than the Ghiz bunch, I do believe the MacLaughlin government is as transparent as mud.

    • AL
      February 10, 2016 - 09:09

      There is no transparency to this Liberal government, it is the same as the Ghizz group. The transparency lies in the way they are scheming to control and protect all the crooked schemes of the past such as PNP and E-gaming and key members involved. That fact is as clear as crystal. I for one don't believe them when they say that HST has not been discussed. It should have been with an answer of NO. Work on cutting down on your wasteful spending such as your slush funds.

    • Just What
      February 10, 2016 - 10:48

      Isn't this what you wanted ??????????????