TAXATION Mr. Ted Arnott: My question is for the Premier. You’ve heard of Joe the plumber? I want to introduce you to Mark the painter. Mark, stand up. Mark Douglas lives with his family in Georgetown. He owns his own business, goes to work everyday, pays his taxes and hopes for a future for his family, his community and his province. Last year, the Minister of Finance wrote to Mr. Douglas promising him that Ontario, “Would not agree to harmonize the GST if that would increase the tax burden on Ontario taxpayers, particularly with respect to basic essentials such as home heating.” Premier why did you force your Minister of Finance to break his promise to Mr. Douglas and the people of Ontario? Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Economic Development. Hon. Michael Bryant: Let me say at the outset that I’m happy to work with the member with respect to the gentleman who is in the gallery. And— The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): I just ask we—stop the clock, please. We welcome all of our guests to the Legislature to observe the proceedings but we just ask that you not participate in the proceedings as well. Minister. Hon. Michael Bryant: It is— L139-1055-23 follows (The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters)) Stop the clock, please. We welcome all of our guests to the Legislature to observe the proceedings, but we just ask that you not participate in the proceedings, as well. Minister? Hon. Michael Bryant: Thank you. It is remarkable that we have a situation here where, in fact, everybody from Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on the one hand to the vast majority of jurisdictions on the other hand support this particular tax approach. Why? Because we are an export-oriented jurisdiction and, as an export-oriented jurisdiction, particularly with respect to Quebec, we don’t want to have companies paying twice. This will make our province even more competitive. It will strengthen our economy. It will allow for more growth. I say to the member, it is absolutely, without question— The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Interjection. The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): The member for Renfrew will withdraw his comment, please. Mr. John Yakabuski: I withdraw. The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Mr. Ted Arnott: The only thing this tax will do with regard to economic development is destroy economic development in the province of Ontario. I’d like page Cameron to deliver this letter over to the Premier so he can see it for himself.
I’m privileged to represent Mr. Douglas and the rest of my constituents in this Legislature. Premier, you should listen to Mr. Douglas, if you won’t listen to your own backbenchers. He says your new 13% tax is yet another broken promise. He says it will ruin businesses like his; it will dramatically increase the price of fuel; it will drive legitimate businesses into the underground economy. Again, Premier, why are you ignoring legitimate concerns like these? Why did your government break a written promise to Mr. Douglas? Hon. Michael Bryant: What has happened to the Conservative Party of Ontario? The Conservative Party used to care about the economy. The Conservative Party used to support the kind of tax changes that would grow business. This is the Conservative Party that up until the tabling of the budget supported harmonization of taxes. This is the party that used to support tax cuts. Now we have a situation where the government of Ontario brings in tax changes called for by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, by everybody from Roger Martin of the Martin Prosperity Institute to every leading economist in Ontario, yet this party is against those tax cuts. We’re in favour of growing the economy. We will do so with these tax changes. I honestly don’t understand what has happened to the Ontario Conservative Party.