Premier lauds HST implementation as greatest accomplishment in 2013
© Guardian photo
Premier Robert Ghiz
Premier Robert Ghiz is gambling the HST will eventually prove beneficial to a majority of Islanders and become the business-friendly boost promised when government tried to defend its flip-flop on the goods and services tax. He has just over two years to see those dividends start to pay off. If not the next election could be more interesting than many people think.
It’s all or nothing now since the premier brazenly adopted the HST as the single greatest accomplishment for his government in 2013. In his annual year-end interview with The Guardian, the premier could have tried to deflect attention and conversation away from the topic but he chose to embrace it. That was a gigantic political gamble.
The premier acknowledges it was bad politics to bring in the HST, especially after his party promised not to introduce the tax during the last election campaign, at least not without consultations with Islanders. There were consultations all right, but only after the fact to explain the implications on various sectors before it came into effect April 1, 2013.
The premier and his government hope to prove that it was essential, if not good policy, to implement the tax in order to stabilize the financial health of the province. Even though it remains unpopular with the average, skeptical Islander, it was supposed to reduce red tape, bring tax breaks and incentives to small business and primary industries and level the economic playing field with other provinces. Ultimately it was to result in business expansion and job creation, as long as businesses opted to reinvest tax rebates.
Today, as Islanders pay record high heating fuel costs and pocketbook-draining gasoline and electricity costs, it’s hard to sell the benefits of the HST. Maybe before April 2016, if we see a moderation in fuel costs, some tax relief, a balanced budget and if those economic dividends pay off in job creation, the HST might turn out to be both good policy and smart politics. If not, the HST might be known as the broken promise which brought down a government.
At the year’s end
( - excerpt from The Guardian, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 1963).
Perhaps it is because we’re incorrigible optimists, but we always have a strong feeling at this season that the New Year is going to be better than the old. But there really does seem to be justification for optimism at the prospects for 1964, both at home and abroad. Certainly the big centennial events that are looming ahead for this province should put us all in a state of expectancy. For Canada the business improvement noted in 1963 shows promise of continuing, and for the world at large the prospects for peaceful co-existence are considerably brighter than we had reason to expect a few month ago.
If there were failures and disappointments during 1963, let us remember with gratitude that there were also concrete achievements. For the first time since 1945, a movement for disarmament and world peace has made headway through the signing of the pact for partial control of nuclear tests, leaving the way open for further negotiations during the coming months. There has been a movement on the part of the various Christian churches to draw closer together, and this, too, can be rated among the great events of our time.
And, as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth reminded us in her Christmas Day broadcast, there is a great deal of hunger in the world, which will constitute perhaps the biggest problem world leaders will have to face up to in 1964. But by and large, the 1963 picture shows that nations are making progress, and real progress, toward peace and stability.
We wish our readers all the happiness and prosperity the New Year may have in store.