Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's failure to give cities the penny they sought in his economic update last week is no reason to abandon the One Cent Now campaign. Far from surrendering, Canada's urban advocates must redouble their effort to win, for cities, one cent from the goods and services tax on every dollar in a transaction....Uh, unfair? There's this thing called S. 92.8, and Mr. McGuinty should have been familiar with it before he applied for his current job. Let's run this down a bit:
Ontario's provincial government has been criticized for not raising the provincial sales tax by one cent as the GST drops, and passing that to municipalities. This seems unfair. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty supports the One Cent Now campaign, but simply instituting a provincial version would let Ottawa escape its duty to cities.
1) Cities need money.
2) Provinces and the Federal government both have money, and have the fiscal capacity to raise more money. (Ontario especially!)
3) The Constitution clearly gives the provinces the responsibility for municipalities.
THEREFORE, according the the geniuses at the Star:
4) Ottawa should pay the cities money.
If McGuinty believes that cities need money, he should step up and raise taxes. Hell, this is the 21st century: he could easily let the cities raise their own sales tax -- allow Toronto, say, to charge up to 2% sales tax, harmonized with the PST. That would, conveniently enough, give him political cover over his twice-stupid promise not to raise taxes.
Waiting for Ottawa to step in and fix McGuinty's problem -- a problem that, yes, is in his job description -- is lazy and cowardly. Whether or not, in a fantasyland, we would prefer Ottawa or Queen's Park to pay our bills is kind of unimportant when there's a whole lot of red ink flowing out of Toronto City Hall. The Star should be in the business of advocating for the most rapid and practical solutions, not flacking for McGuinty.