Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Zero means Zero...credibility on Mike Patton and the HST


As reported several times, but now confirmed, 2007 PC OW-N candidate Mike Patton will take another crack at it in the upcoming by-election. Patton, a former spokesperson for Larry O'Brien, got 30% of the vote in 2007, a drop of 10% from 2003. The article also mentions Mark MacKenzie as the Green Party candidate, MacKenzie ran in 2007 in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, winning 4% of the vote.

With Patton almost certainly going to be the PC candidate, lets take a deeper look at him. Patton was part of the communications team which got Larry O'Brien elected as mayor of Ottawa, in part by courting suburb and rural voters with a message of "zero means zero" for tax increases, which O'Brien promptly proceeded to break. Considering this record of flip-flopping and lowest-common denominator politics, it is interesting to see that Patton seems set to use the same beating a dead horse talking points on the HST. With Patton's association with an O'Brien administration which broke its signature campaign promise with breakneck speed, I am curious how he plans on campaigning against a tax reform which the PC's and Tim Hudak supported right up until it became Liberal policy (for all of Hudak's galloping around the province telling voters how terrible the HST is, he has said he would actually get rid of it a grand total of zero times)

As a reminder, here are some things the Ontario PC's have said about how terrible the HST is:

"...we understand how that (single sales tax) can help the economy." Leadership candidate Tim Hudak, March 24, 2009 - Don Valley West, Conservative Party Annual Meeting.

"I agree that there's little sense in allowing two separate governments to apply two separate taxes and policies and collect two separate groups of sales taxes." Tim Hudak, April 23, 2009 - Economic Club of Toronto.

"... our party is supportive of harmonization." Interim PC leader Bob Runciman, March 24, 2009 - Media Scrum

"...we think it's something that should occur." Interim PC leader Bob Runciman, March 25, 2009 - Media Scrum

"We've supported the principle of harmonization." Interim PC leader Bob Runciman, March 26, 2009 - Budget Response

In addition, following a report from the Task Force on Competitiveness authored by Roger Martin, that called for harmonization of sales taxes, he asked:

"Premier, will you commit to following Dr. Martin's good advice? - Then-PC Finance Critic Tim Hudak, November 26, 2008 - Hansard

"(Ontario is) further encouraged to harmonize (its) provincial sales tax with the federal goods and services tax, which already exempts business inputs. This would provide a double benefit by also reducing by one-half the paperwork required for businesses to collect and remit sales taxes." - Former PC Premier and Tim Hudak supporter Mike Harris, Fraser Institute: Building Prosperity in a Canada Strong and Free, 2006

"“The Official Opposition calls on this Government to heed the call of the federal government and take immediate action" (when the federal Conservative government was pressing Ontario to adopt the HST) - Ontario Progressive Conservative Party 2009 pre-budget submission

"We always said there should be one sales tax . . . we would like to work with the federal government to make that happen” PC Premier Mike Harris, Hamilton Spectator: June 7, 1995

Considering Patton may have fudged his resume to voters in 2007 (http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ontariovotes2007/story/2007/09/18/ot-patton-070918.html) but he should know better to try and fudge the truth about his own party's record on the HST.

1 comment:

Craig said...

There is one thing to remember though: the Mayor is just one voice on the City Council, and it is almost impossible to keep promises in mayoral elections if you run against the views of the council as a whole.

In Ottawa West-Nepean, it is a tough balancing act for all parties between social/economic activists (NDP-type voters), social liberals, Red Tories and classic fiscal conservatives, and no group seems to have control of the riding. As for the conservative base, they are certainly much weaker here than in rural ridings or even in neighbouring Nepean-Carleton and certainly cannot win the riding on their own, but enough of them exist that they cannot easily be ignored (notice John Baird doesn't win by a lot even with his name recognition).

As for Chiarelli, he needs to run on his own record, since he can definitely win on his name recognition, but may not be able to win on the Liberal brand alone (unlike in Toronto Centre and St. Paul's, where a beaver could run under the Liberal banner and still win).