Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Ekos Poll: 9.1-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS has a new poll out, and it actually has some interesting results. The first of which is a nine-point lead by the Conservatives. No more double digits!The Conservatives are starting to show some weakness, as they move down below their 2008 election result. They are now at 35.6%, which puts them far away from a majority. They've actually lost 1.9 points since the last EKOS poll.

The Liberals also post a loss of 0.6 points, indicating that they aren't benefiting from the Tories' slip.

The beneficiary seems to be the NDP, who is up 1.4 points.

The Conservatives are relatively stable in British Columbia and Ontario, but drop four points in the Prairies and five points in Quebec. They seem to have lost some significant ground there. They are up four points in Alberta and two in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals had mixed results, gaining two points in British Columbia and the Prairies but losing two in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. They're stable in Quebec, which they absolutely need to be. They were on a terrifying downward trend.

The NDP's gains came primarily in British Columbia and Ontario, where they are up two points each. These are good results for them.

The Bloc is up three points in Quebec and is back up to the 40% level. With the Liberals in second at 23%, that is a big lead for them.

The Greens are down four points in British Columbia.

This poll would give the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 142
Liberals - 81
Bloc Quebecois - 52
New Democrats - 33

So, the Tories are backing away from a majority. They take 68 seats in the West and North, 56 in Ontario, 7 in Quebec, and 11 in Atlantic Canada.

The Liberals are at about where they were a year ago. They take 15 seats in the West and North, 35 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 16 in Atlantic Canada.

The NDP take 12 seats out West, 15 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, and 5 in Atlantic Canada.

There was also an Afghan detainee/torture poll, the results of which can easily be summed up. Canadians overwhelming believe that Afghan detainees handed over by Canadian Forces were tortured, and that Colvin's testimony is reliable. Canadians also oppose, with a majority, an extension of the mission in that country.

Can a link between the Conservative slip and the Afghan detainee issue be drawn? I'd say that it is definitely a factor. However, that the NDP is benefiting from the Tory woes rather than the Liberals points towards the HST issue, which is being fiercely opposed by the NDP. Just yesterday, I watched the NDP use obstructionist tactics in the House of Commons to delay a vote on it. It didn't work, but it was funny to see the NDP MPs veeeerrrryyy ssslllooowwllly stand up and sit down to record their vote. And then Thomas Mulcair spoke for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, perhaps the Christmas season will have more surprises than we think. Are we going to see the Tories in the low-30s, the Liberals stagnant, and the NDP approaching 20%?

66 comments:

  1. Hey Eric.

    I always feel like I learn something when I read your breakdown of a poll...

    Always seems a bit more useful than just the raw numbers.

    I think the detainee issue is a hot potato, although it really shouldn't be - did the government know what was going on if the Generals didn't?

    Also, the HST thing - it will be interesting to watch and see if this trend holds up, or if the NDP is just a wolf in sheep's clothing. When have the NDP ever opposed a tax (a chance to control more of our $$)???

    Have a great day!
    Mike

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  2. The NDP opposed the GST in 1990 as well.

    The NDP tends to oppose taxes that are all about shifting money away from the poor and to the rich - as the HST does. They also oppose the idea of a "flat tax" that the Fraser institute keeps championing.

    It should be noted that in the late 80s the Labour party and all elements to the left of it strenuously opposed Thatcher's plan for a "poll tax" as well.

    The French revolution was kickstarted by a tax revolt against the salt tax of Louis the 16th.

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  3. DL - point taken. I retract that last question. But I still think that the NDP having that $$ will end up helping them to better create their next platform (still not going to form government federally though). More kitchen table chats?

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  4. Oh, and how does paying more tax across the board make the rich richer? 12%, 13%, or whatever the number is ends up being a lot more money the wealthier you get - a $20000 car or a $50000 car - which do you think ends up with more tax?

    I realize that items that weren't eligible for one of the taxes will now be hit with the whole shebang, but that affects everyone, which is only fair if it has to happen. I'd prefer no tax, like prior to WWl, but fat chance of that ever happening!

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  5. DL,

    "The NDP tends to oppose taxes that are all about shifting money away from the poor and to the rich - as the HST does"

    Oh dead God! Is this just NDP boilerplate that require no basis in reality?

    Please, please tell me how the HST shifts taxes from the rich to the poor when everyone is getting their money back in various rebates.

    If anything its slighting increasing tax on the middle class, the rich, and decreasing them on corporations while having ZERO effect on anyone even close to the poverty line!

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  6. Doesn't look like the HST issue is gaining much traction for the NDP in BC. Probably because they are viewed as a "tax and spend" party, not an "anti-tax" party.

    That distinction is typically held by right-wing, Reform-like political parties.

    The NDP in BC are at 26%, the same level they achieved in 2008. Meanwhile the Liberals are up to 25% (up 6% from 2008), meaning that they would likely take back the seats they lost to the CPC in urban Vancouver in 2008, including Vancouver-Kingsway to the NDP.

    Frankly, based upon all anecdotal evidence, the HST issue seems to somehow have lost its legs in BC compared to the big brouhaha during the summer months.

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  7. There were real live votes cast in New Westminster and the NDP cashed in big time. The fury will gain strength as we approach the July 1 date when everyone starts paying a big 12% on things that used to not have any PST like restraurant meals etc...

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  8. DL - Since you are a Torontonian, let me assist you with some "on the ground" perspective of the NWC by-election from BC.

    Firstly, NWC is a traditional NDP seat, esp. the heavily leaning New Westminster portion. In 1993 during the NDP meltdown, aside from Nelson Riis and Svend Robinson, NWC was the next closest NDP seat with Dawn Black. She almost held it!

    The NDP candidate, Fin Donnelly, was a very high profile councillor in Coquitlam. He actually topped the municipal polls. He was the NDP version of a star candidate. The CPC had a less well known candidate and the CPC is also the incumbent government.

    In BC and in a seat like NWC, voters typically do not vote for an incumbent government during by-elections.

    Furthermore, a by-election is more "candidate focused" and the NDP was running away with their star in that regard. Same dynamic with the CPC's similar star candidate in MIKR and he won.

    Did I even mention the low turnout of 29.9%?

    During the next election, the result will be much closer in NWC and if the NDP doesn't poll better in BC (it's popular vote share continues to trend downward election after election) it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the NDP could lose NWC.

    And if you believe that the NDP "owns" anti-tax positions, then you might also believe that the CPC "owns" anti-poverty positions.

    Voters are more knowledgeable than that.

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  9. This is excellent news for the Conservatives!

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  10. I'm not sure what you mean about the NDP vote "trending downward" in BC. It was 11% in 2000, then 26.6% in 2004, 28.6 in 2006 and 26.1 in 2008 - and in 2008 the Green vote was over 9% in BC after having been just 5% in '04 and '06. Most polls NDP support in BC either on par with 2008 or higher.

    The only thing clearly going downhill is Conservative support. They got almost 45% in BC last election and most polls show them crashing to the mid-30s or lower.

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  11. --- "This is excellent news for the Conservatives!"

    In an isolated bubble, perhaps. In context, this is one of the weaker polls we've since from the Conservatives since the summer.

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  12. Its funny how now that the NDP has won NWC in a landslide - all of sudden Tories start talking about what a formidable candidate Fin Donnelly is. Before the votes were cast, the same people were saying that he was a "do-nothing" city councillor who could never match the great personal appeal of Dawn Black and we were also told that the Tory candidate was so fantastic (which begs the question of why did the Tories hide her in a broom closet for the duration of the campaign)

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  13. DL,

    Actually the HST probably had very little effect on New West.

    The Conservatives were down three points but they also had a worse candidate and much lower poll numbers than '08.

    The Liberals were down 1 point.

    And the biggest loser was the Greens, which has no money and doesn't do well in by-elections that don't involve Elizabeth May. They lost 7%.


    So DL is officialy theorizing that the effects of the HST will be the collapse of the Green party!

    Oh the growing fury! Watch as the Greens fall apart.

    Err.

    Wait.

    Maybe it has more to do with Fin's impressive environmental record attracting green voters than the HST does...

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  14. --- "Its funny how now that the NDP has won NWC in a landslide - all of sudden Tories start talking about what a formidable candidate Fin Donnelly is."

    It's as old as politics. Remember the gubernatorial and race about a month ago that was a "referendum on Obama", a sign of his weakness?

    When the same happened to Bush shortly after his election (either in 2001 or 2005), it was local issues.

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  15. Eric,

    "--- "This is excellent news for the Conservatives!"

    Is an ironic phrase, adapated from the '08 campaign in the US.

    Its original iteration was "This is excellent news, for John McCain!"

    It was deployed by Dems and meant to mock people who felt that the collapse of Bush/the GOP, the rising right track/wrong track numbers would benefit McCain because of his maverick reputation.

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  16. Eric,

    "Remember the gubernatorial and race about a month ago that was a "referendum on Obama", a sign of his weakness?"

    Err, Obama is down to 44% job approval in some polls. Quite a few CNN, Gallup, Rasmussen, Ipsos have been showing him "upside down", more negative approval than positive.

    A stunning 44% of Americans would rather Bush was president right now than Obama !

    BUSH.

    Perhaps that's not the best example to use given what's been happening to Obama lately...

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  17. DL - If the HST was such a resonating issue in BC as you claim, the NDP would be surging ahead, not remaining at their 2006 vote share levels of 26%.

    Look at Eric's post below for the BC cumulative polls for November. CPC at 39%, meaning that they are melting 2008 support in Vancouver City and environs and will not have huge margins elsewhere.

    Liberal support increasing to 22%, likely in their core base in the City of Vancouver.

    It's funny how you claim that Donnelly was perceived as a lacklustre candidate by Tories. Au contraire, when I heard that Donnelly was the nominated candidate for the NDP in NWC, I came to the conclusion that he would be the likely winner.

    OTOH, had the NDP nominated one of the other two less known candidates, the electoral contest would have been much different. Really.

    And remember, you are the one claiming that Jasbir Sandhu is a "star" candidate for the NDP in Surrey North. Hell, Diana Dilworth had more cache in NWC than Sandhu has in Surrey North. ;)

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  18. "A stunning 44% of Americans would rather Bush was president right now than Obama!"

    I don't find that stunning at all. 46% voted for McCain last year and I know that 44% is about the rock bottom vote share that ANY person running as a Republican will get for president in a two-way race. Tell me something i don't already know. About 44% of American would even vote for a nincompoop like Sarah Palin as long as she has (R) after her name.

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  19. The Greens are also now polling ahead of the NDP in Quebec!

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  20. "The Greens are also now polling ahead of the NDP in Quebec!"

    Which tells us how unreliable polls are when it comes to the Green party...There is no place in canada where the Green party is utterly non-existent as Quebec and we saw that in the MIKR byelection they got 1.8% and in Hochelaga they got 2.8% (compared to the NDP's 20%).

    take my word for it - when the votes are counted in the next election - the Green party will be lucky to get over 3% of the vote in Quebec.

    Quebec pollsters like CROP and Leger always have the Greens in low single digits.

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  21. DL,

    Green support in the last three elections in Quebec has been 3.2, 4, 3.5.

    What exactly is going to cause their sudden decline to below 3?

    And as I said before, when you are a party with no money you tend to do very poorly in by-elections that don't involve your national leader.

    Which is just another reason as to why by-elections have relatively little predictive value of the future.

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  22. "What exactly is going to cause their sudden decline to below 3?"

    Where do I begin...? The environment is falling off the map as an issue compared to last year (esp. once we get past this weeks Copenhagen blip), loss of novelty, the emergence of the NDP as more and more of a player in Quebec, the fact that the media has lost interest in May and her party (look at Chantal Hebert's hatchet job on the Green party yesterday in the Star) and many other reasons too numerous to recount.

    Provincial polls sometimes give the parti vert du Quebec 8 or 9% - then the votes are counted and they get 3%

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  23. DL,

    So then you're assuming an election will be held sometime before we see healthy growth? Because once the economy turns around i'm sure we'll all be "re-education" about global warming by the junk scientists, the media, and our supplicant politicians.

    Also, from everything I understand the NDP growth in Quebec is centered around union activity.

    When the NDP runs "green" candidates like Fin they get the enviro votes but when they are seen as lapdogs to the manufacturing or forestry unions they are not popular with enviro types.

    The BC NDP, for instance, was hammered for opposing the carbon tax by green groups in the last provincial election.


    Your prediction is certainly reasonable and may come to pass. Its not a slam dunk though.

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  24. Jesse:

    "Err, Obama is down to 44% job approval in some polls. Quite a few CNN, Gallup, Rasmussen, Ipsos have been showing him "upside down", more negative approval than positive.

    A stunning 44% of Americans would rather Bush was president right now than Obama !

    BUSH.

    Perhaps that's not the best example to use given what's been happening to Obama lately..."

    You've failed to provide the link that shows 44% of Americans would prefer Bush to Obama. I'm assuming that you didn't just assume that. Because only 44% of Americans approve of Obama doesn't mean that they want Bush back unless you have a specific poll that tells us that.

    Do you have a link a specific poll showing Americans wanting Bush over Obama? Please share it.

    I'll be back to you today on the Chicago School of Economics.

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  25. "The BC NDP, for instance, was hammered for opposing the carbon tax by green groups in the last provincial election."

    Remind us how many (or should I say how few) votes the Green party got in the last BC provincial election??

    In Quebec the NDP actually has an even more environmentalist image than elsewhere in Canada due to Mulcair having been Environment minister in Quebec and with people like Daniel Breton who founded the Quebec Green Party running for the NDP in '08 and next time.

    Compare that to the Green Party under Elizabeth May who is a complete unknown in Quebec and who speaks French like my ass chews gum!

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  26. The entire detainee torture issue is a red herring. We are fighting a war. In war bad things happen. We now know that in WWI and WWII we not innocents. No we didn't engage in genocide and torture was not widely used, but we did kill prisoners and torture was used intermittently in isolated situations.

    Secondly I am not condoning the issue of torture. I think torture is reprehensible, and ultimately ineffective. Civilized societies do not torture people.

    In Afghanistan Canada has troop strength of less than 3000, I believe. We are in one of the most hostile areas of Afghanistan. We have no capacity to detain and control prisoners. Nor do we have any ability to control what our Afghani allies do with detainees.

    Practically we have no say in what happens to Taliban detainees after they are handed over to the Afghans. It is very easy to evoke moral outrage over torture. Practically, none of the opposition parties has provided a workable solution to solve the problem. The NDP has come closest by advocating immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. Again, practically we have committed to staying in Afghanistan until 2011. Practically, not theoretically, we have to honour our commitments.

    I did support our involvement in Afghanistan. I've come to realize that the West will not change not change much in Afghanistan. There will not be a democracy as we know it, nor will they become an equal society. The sect of Islam practiced by most is fundamental and doesn't conform to Western ideas of equality between the sexes or of a secular society. We can't change that.

    The West has accomplished its stated goal of removing the terrorists training camps from Afghanistan. We can monitor Afghanistan from the air through the use of satellites, and drones to make certain that these camps do not return to the country. Should they return we can deal with through cruise missiles and bombing. Mission accomplished. Let's bring home the troops and let the Afghans solve their own problems. Perhaps this why the issue has had only a marginal impact on the CPC's position in national polls. In fact I would posit that the HST has had more of an impact.

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  27. Earl,

    My links tend to get cut off so I don't usually include them. I just assume that people take me at my word or if they're really curious can just plug it into a search engine.

    In the future please just ask for a link instead of implying that i'm mistaken or not trustworthy.

    http://publicpolicypolling.blogspot.com/2009/12/obamas-december-standing.html

    The poll was conducted by the well respected Public Policy Polling. They are a democratic firm but their polling doesn't usually seem biased.

    The relevant passage is the fourth paragraph down.

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  28. I would like to this opportunity to remind everyone that when we talk about what is moving the polls or more particularly what resulted in last months by election results we are all speculating. There were no exit polls for the by elections and the effects of the HST in ON and BC are pure speculation. All we know is that there has been a slight decline for the CPC and a slight rise in standings of the NDP. All with in the margin of error. All to often all of us are presenting opinion as fact.

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  29. DL,

    The BC Green party experienced a drop of nine tenths of one percent in the last election (-0.9%).

    A surprisingly good result given that they had switched from their more effective previous leader Carr.

    Sterk was quiet and didn't have much of a profile but she did come off good in the debates, rising above the nasty bloodsport that Gordo and James were involved in.

    Suzuki was actually on the side of the government, amazingly, because he thinks run of the river projects are a good energy source and thinks the carbon tax is a good idea.

    The NDP benefited from their populist anti-carbon tax stance.

    Regardless, my original statement stands that the NDP are often seen as a not so green party when they are associated with populism or the labour movement.

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  30. "Is an ironic phrase, adapated from the '08 campaign in the US.

    Its original iteration was "This is excellent news, for John McCain!"

    It was deployed by Dems and meant to mock people who felt that the collapse of Bush/the GOP, the rising right track/wrong track numbers would benefit McCain because of his maverick reputation."

    Actually it first came about during the Democratic nomination. Pollster and spinmaster Mark Penn consistently would claim that all news was EXCELLENT NEWS FOR HILLARY.



    Conservatives may be feeling the heat right now, but it hasn't really diminished their lead as compared to just before they first started taking off in the summer. Moreover, their closest opposition hasn't really benefited at all. They still remain in striking distance of where they want to be.

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  31. Hi H=Jesse:

    Thank you for the link. That said I don't think your analysis tells the entire story.

    Refom your link:

    "Perhaps the greatest measure of Obama's declining support is that just 50% of voters now say they prefer having him as President to George W. Bush, with 44% saying they'd rather have his predecessor. Given the horrendous approval ratings Bush showed during his final term that's somewhat of a surprise and an indication that voters are increasingly placing the blame on Obama for the country's difficulties instead of giving him space because of the tough situation he inherited."

    My concern with your comment is that it omitted that when compared to Bush head on 50% preferred Obama as compared to 44% for Bush. That isn't out right lying but it is slanting the information to provided a desired outcome. When given those alternatives, I'm not surprised that 44% chose Bush. If one is not in favour of Obama the only alternative is to choose Bush. 47% of Americans voted against Obama. Why should we be surprised that most of those would choose the only alternative provided in a poll to Obama, given that that alternative is a member of the party they voted for. The GOP has been very successful in blaming Obama for the unpopular policies of Bush. TARP is an example. That was a Bush initiative. So was the rescue of AIG and the bailout of GM and Chrysler. Obama merely finished the process with GM and Chrysler IMO. You may disagree. Obama has had to administer TARP, which was not only supported by Bush but both Obama and McCain. As the poll analysis that I've posted notes, it appears that Americans are increasingly blaming Obama rather than Bush for the economic problems. Reagan, incidently had eerily similar poll numbers to Obama early in his Presidency. Both Presidents inherited very difficult economic situations and attempted transformational solutions.

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  32. Jesse if you are having trouble with your links getting cut off try:

    http://tinyurl.com/

    It takes a long link and shortens it so you'll be able to post your links.

    Best,

    Earl

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  33. As for the HST, the new NDP government in Nova Scotia is now a step closer to increasing their HST by another 2% according to NDP finance minister Graham Steele.

    So Jack Layton spouts off against the HST nationally, yet the only NDP government in Canada will likely increase their HST (nevermind about getting rid of the HST). And also the only government in Canada to increase their HST.

    The optics of this politically will be fun to watch on the national scene. Will Layton now go to Nova Scotia and congratulate his political brethren on this move?

    I can guess how this will eventually play out politically in BC and perhaps even Ontario for the NDP. The word hypocrite comes to mind.

    http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9014378.html

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  34. This is interesting, because it settles (well, calms) my fears about whether or not the HST issue can drag down the Liberals any more - and apparently it hasn't, minus that 2-point loss in Ontario which, when considering everything, isn't that big of a deal. No doubt the HST has hurt the Liberals on some fronts (except BC, wtf?), but it doesn't appear to be digging any deeper of a ditch.

    The NDP aren't benefiting much either, are they? They see rises, sure, but considering how much people in BC hate the HST, their numbers are pretty low, at least compared to their provincial sister party. I think they're maybe 1-point above 2008? The Liberals are 5 or 6! That's got to make you think...

    Either way, cool poll, and good analysis!

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  35. The bulk of the burden of sales taxes are generally borne by consumer. In the case of HST, consumers will pay more so that businesses can save money on administration costs.

    Therefore this tax will end up shifting money from the lower and middle classes to the upper class.

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  36. Earl,

    Its sort of assumed that its a two way choice. I'm sure 98% of Americans would want Jesus as their president if they could choose anyone.

    I think the point is that if you had Bush v Obama in 2008, Bush wouldn't have gotten McCain's 47% (he was way less popular than McCain), he would have gotten something like 37%.

    And now he's at 44%. What a difference a year makes.

    But you're right about Reagan. He took a beating in the midterm, like Obama is about to, but then the economy turned around because of his transformative change.


    Tarp is really Tarp 1 and Tarp 2. Everyone, Bush, Obama, McCain supported Tarp 1, which was the initial 350 billion outlay.

    Most Republicans didn't support Tarp 2 by the time it rolled around. Bush signed it at Obama's request.

    The auto bailout is certainly Bush's fault in the sense that he got the ball rolling with the initial bridge loan.

    Although Obama made it worse by scamming crediters, pumping money in, and not getting tough with the unions.

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  37. Jesse You know even Carter got 42% of the vote during his down days against Reagan. To say Bush wouldn't have got 44% is just silly.

    You do know in the past 9 elections of the Candidates two main parties have only once dipped below 40% . That was 1992 when Ross got 18% of the vote. It is like you know nothing about politics at all. Republicans or Democrats could run Zombie Joseph Stalin and get 40% of the vote.

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  38. Anonymous: Nova Scotia isn't the only NDP government in Canada, look again before you start spouting off nonsense. It's hard to believe someone that doesn't have their facts straight.

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  39. The tone of the conversation here has taken a turn for the worse the past few days.

    I ask that everyone try to exercise a little more self-restraint.

    If flame wars develop, I will delete them.

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  40. The Nova Scotia NDP, the only government in Canada increasing their HST by 2%.

    Another hit to the consumers.

    The Manitoba NDP, the only other NDP government in Canada that has also been looking at implementing the HST.

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  41. Actually the Manitoba NDP looked into the HST at the same time BC and Ontario did and said no too it. So they aren't looking at it at all. Unlike some other parties they listened to the people. Please don't spread lies.

    As NS they have huge debt problems thanks the Liberals not balancing one budget for 9 years in the 90s. No one knows what they will do to solve it but they have to do something.

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  42. Jesse as regards the Chicago School of Economics it does not teach nor advocate "trickle down economics". Here is a link which describes in particular, the school of economic thought advocated by the Chicago School of Economics and other economic theories as well:

    http://www.cosmolearning.com/topics/9-chicago-school/

    I would not equate the low taxes with "trickle down economics (TDE)" . TDE advocates cutting taxes on the wealthy. It is a merely a new name given to Horse and Sparrow economics. Given that horses were fed oats and sparrows eat manure it was thought that when a horse ate oats the sparrows would get some. A very apt description IMO.

    Conversely the CS of E advocates low taxes with little government regulation. In other words let the markets decide winners and losers. The one area where the CS of E advocates government intervention is in the area of monetary policy:

    "The Chicago school of economics describes a neoclassical school of thought within the academic community of economists, with a strong focus around the faculty of University of Chicago, some of whom have constructed and popularized its principles. It is at times referred to as freshwater school of economics, in contrast to the saltwater school based in coastal universities (notably Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley). The Chicago school is associated with neoclassical price theory and libertarianism in its support of radically lower taxation and private sector regulation, but differs from pure free-market economics in its support of government-regulated monetary policy."

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  43. Part II:

    Ronald Reagan's income tax policies were in fact revenue neutral:

    "With the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Reagan and Congress sought to broaden the tax base and reduce perceived tax favoritism. In 1983, Democrats Bill Bradley and Dick Gephardt had offered a proposal to clean up/broaden the tax base; in 1984 Reagan had the Treasury Department produce its own plan. The eventual bipartisan 1986 act aimed to be revenue-neutral: while it reduced the top marginal rate, it also partially "cleaned up" the tax base by curbing tax loopholes, preferences, and exceptions, thus raising the effective tax on activities previously specially favored by the code. Economists of most affiliations favor cleaning up the tax code, since tax preferences and exceptions distort economic decisions."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaganomics

    In actuality, taxation in its entirety increased under Reagan as he implemented the Alternative Minimum tax as well as increases in payroll taxes. the US also moved from being the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest debtor. See link above.

    I have advocated doing much the same kind of thing in Canada as Reagan did in reducing tax rates. A revenue neutral expansion of the tax base with a reduction in the more regressive forms of taxation. It is worth noting that while European nations do have higher rates of income taxes they also have much higher rates of sales or value added taxes as well, equivalent to our PST, GST or HST. In addition their social programs are much more generous than are ours, something that many economists believe provides a disincentive to work. To be clear, I do not advocate increasing taxes, merely changing the sources from which they are collected.

    George H. W. Bush raised taxes as did his successor W. J. Clinton. Clinton's years in the White House saw tremendous growth and prosperity.

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  44. That government-regulated monetary policy is where they strongly diverge from the Austrian School (of which I am an adherent), which otherwise agrees with most of Chicago's policy recommendations (though often for different reasons).

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  45. Part III

    George W. Bush took office in 2000 and enacted a series of tax cuts that not only reduced the top rates of income taxation but reduced the rates of tax on capital gains and dividends. These cuts more fully implemented "TDE" as the term is commonly recognized. The result was tepid growth in the economy with only 3 million new net jobs created during Bush's eight years in the WH, compared to 23 million during Clinton's eight years in office. George W. H. Bush created almost as many jobs as his son in only fours of decidedly slow growth. Almost all of the job growth during the period 2000 0 2008 came from the growth in the financial and construction sectors of the economy.

    There is little doubt that George W. Bush led the US down a failed economic path. His tax cuts, combined with GOP led financial deregulation and unduly low interest rates led to a housing bubble and financial bubble that the world continues to struggle with.

    More importantly in the longer term the US has become heavily indebted to the rest of the world and has seen its manufacturing base eroded.
    China has emerged as challenger to the US in terms of economic power and hold nearly a trillion dollars in US debt.

    Much of the economic decay which came to fruition under the Bush Administration has its roots in the Reagan era of huge budget deficits.
    Americans became the world's consumers of last resort and warmed to the task. Both public and personal debt levels rose to all time highs that may well take a generation to pay down to more acceptable levels. The depth of the current recession has not been seen since the great depression of the the nineteen thirties. This is seen by many as a repudiation of the theories advanced by the Chicago School of Economics and more specifically "TDE" as practised by George W. Bush

    George H. W. Bush raised taxes as did his successor W. J. Clinton. Clinton's years in the White House saw tremendous growth and prosperity.

    George W. Bush took office in 2000 and enacted a series of tax cuts that not only reduced the top rates of income taxation but reduced the rates of tax on capital gains and dividends. These cuts more fully implemented "TDE" as the term is commonly recognized. The result was tepid growth in the economy with only 3 million new net jobs created during Bush's eight years in the WH, compared to 23 million during Clinton's eight years in office. George W. H. Bush created almost as many jobs as his son in only fours of decidedly slow growth. Almost all of the job growth during the period 2000 0 2008 came from the growth in the financial and construction sectors of the economy.

    There is little doubt that George W. Bush led the US down a failed economic path. His tax cuts, combined with GOP led financial deregulation and unduly low interest rates led to a housing bubble and financial bubble that the world continues to struggle with.

    More importantly in the longer term the US has become heavily indebted to the rest of the world and has seen its manufacturing base eroded.
    China has emerged as challenger to the US in terms of economic power and hold nearly a trillion dollars in US debt.

    Much of the economic decay which came to fruition under the Bush Administration has its roots in the Reagan era of huge budget deficits.
    Americans became the world's consumers of last resort and warmed to the task. Both public and personal debt levels rose to all time highs that may well take a generation to pay down to more acceptable levels. The depth of the current recession has not been seen since the great depression of the the nineteen thirties. This is seen by many as a repudiation of the theories advanced by the Chicago School of Economics and more specifically "TDE" as practised by George W. Bush.

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  46. Sheesh, the Manitoba NDP (Greg Selinger) publicly stated that there will be a "disadvantage" if Manitoba does not follow suit with the HST.

    However, the Manitoba NDP want a larger "bribe" than Ottawa was offering - $400 million more as a matter of fact.

    Manitoba is still mulling the idea of the HST but will first watch BC and Ontario's HST transition in July next year.

    Watch for Manitoba to get back into the HST game perhaps as early as next fall. Don't kid yourself.

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  47. Éric - I see a 1.3 point drop for the Conservatives since the last EKOS poll, not 1.9. 36.9 became 35.6.

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  48. Hey Dion_Liberal. Are you suggesting that all business owners are part of the upper class? That's what your comment of 15:36 leads me to understand.

    I would strongly disagree with you one that insinuation! A large percentage of business owners out there are running their own business and may not even be earning as much money as you are at your full time job - even thought they are working longer hours to put food on the table. It's all about investment and taking charge of who pays them. These would be middle class people at best, in many cases (ex: My mother-in-law owns a flower store in my town, and she works longer hours than I do - and pays herself much less than I make).

    Call it what you will, but there are other people out in the world who work hard for some of the breaks they may get - and this HST thing doesn't look like much of a break for anyone... Looks to me like everyone's getting kicked in the groin over this tax collectively.

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  49. Sales taxes shift taxes to consumers. Since everyone is a consumer, that's a balanced, broad-based tax.

    Businesses exist to generate wealth. Taxing them is counter-productive.

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  50. Hinchey's Store:

    I'd agree with your assertion that small business owners, as most of us define the term, are part of the middle class. My father at one time or another owned a dry cleaners, a fuel oil delivery business, a Dairy Queen and an advertising specialties business. That where my small "c conservative background comes from.

    The HST in both Ontario and BC will transfer wealth from consumers to business, especially big business. Yes there will be increased rebates for sales and property taxes in Ontario. However these are income tested and as such won't affect most people. There is no assurance that even these increased rebates will compensate the less well off for the increased tax burden.

    The problem with flat taxes of any kind is that they hit those with lower incomes hardest. As you move up the income scale the impact is reduced. That seems counter intuitive until one considers how taxation impacts people. Those with high incomes can save, those with very high incomes are the best savers. I'm speaking in general across the board terms.

    If we had a flat tax of twenty per cent a family earning $20,000 would pay $4,000/yr in income tax. A family earning $200,000 a year would pay $40,000 and a family earning $2,000,000 a year would pay $400,000. On the surface it seems very fair. Everyone is paying the same percentage of earnings to support the government and the well off are paying more.

    The reason flat taxes (and sales taxes) are called regressive is because the four thousand dollars taken from a family earning $20,000 would almost certainly be spent and again almost certainly spent on needs not wants. The family earning $200,009 would likely see their tax dollars reducing savings and discretionary spending, while the family earning $2,000,000 would see a reduction in savings only. Remember these are general rules and there are exceptions to every rule. The propensity to save rises with income. All of the above has been statistically proven and is accepted by mainstream economists.

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  51. Part II

    The HST is a particularly nasty form of tax, at least in ON because it will be applied to necessaries. The fuel to heat your home, electricity, gasoline and such. While these products have some elasticity of demand, that is consumers can cut back somewhat they, consumers can't cut back a lot and still live in a modern world. Finally these items are not small expenditures for most consumers.

    So who will get the benefits of the HST? Business will benefit in three ways. The simplest is they will be spared some accounting functions and remitting their sales tax revenues to two different levels of government. Given that medium and large sized businesses already have automated accounting systems the savings to them will be small. For the small business owner who now will have to collect the HST there will be an added bookkeeping function. Thousands of small businesses in ON will dragged into the sales tax network. Barbers, hairdressers, massage and physiotherapists, bookkeepers and others whose incomes were under the thirty thousand dollar level will now have to collect and administer the HST.

    The second benefit to business is that it will be rebated the PST part of the HST as it was rebated the GST on business purchases. In theory this should mean increased investment by business and lower prices for consumers. If competition forces larger companies to pass along savings to consumers then consumers will indeed see lower prices. Small business like a barber shop or a flower shop are not as likely to complete the paper work to get their rebates, simply because they might only buy a small amount of goods eligible for the HST rebate. In any event even if they do claim the rebate it will not be large enough for them to lower their prices.

    In ON the provincial government will pay a total of $1000 in the first year to families earning under $160,000 and $300 to individuals earning under $80,000 to offset the increased costs of the HST. That means the government is acknowledging a significant increase in costs for individuals. The assumption by government is that in subsequent years prices will fall by an amount equal to the rebates so that consumer won't pay more. Business will also benefit from lower tax rates. As one member of this board noted Ireland lowered business tax rates in the 1990's with spectacular results. What wasn't mentioned was that when the economic crisis hit Ireland's government almost went broke. As time passed and other countries cut their corporate and business tax rates as well Ireland's competitive advantage shrank and its growth leveled off. Its not unlike one gas station in town cutting prices, it does a bang up business until the others follow suit. This results in a rush to the bottom.

    Simply put the HST is a tax shift from business to consumers and quite possibly an over all tax increase. One thing is certain though and tat is that those least able to pay more will see their taxes increase. Jack Mintz, the economist on whose reasoning the ON government has staked its future was also the economist who advocated taxing income trusts. That tells us something about the motives of government and the results we can expect.

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  52. The left-wing and NDP/labour aligned/funded Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has also come out in favour of the HST.

    Hugh Mackenzie of the CCPA states:

    "I support the HST package because conversion from the sales tax to a value added tax makes economic sense (while the nominal rate of tax is 8%, because it applies to inputs, the effective rate of tax can be double or more than double that rate; in addition, it gets incorporated into the costs of exported goods, which doesn't make sense in the current economic environment), and because the enhancements to the credits offset or more than offset the potential impact into income ranges well above the median household income."

    "I also support it based on future implications. I think consumption taxes are actually a pretty good way to pay for public services. As Richard Shillington and I demonstrated in our CCPA paper, paying for improved public services through consumption taxes delivers a net benefit to about 75% of the population. The sales tax is so flawed that it would be difficult to imagine circumstances under which it could be increased to pay for better public services."

    "Sticking with the sales tax effectively means freezing an important source of revenue for the province."

    "I also think it is nonsensical for the left to come out in opposition to tax increases. I have yet to hear a coherent explanation as to how a party of the left is going to benefit long-term from stoking up opposition to taxes. We should have learned our lesson over the GST campaign, the main beneficiary of which was Preston Manning."

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  53. Earl,

    "Clinton's years in the White House saw tremendous growth and prosperity."

    This is one of the problems with associating economic performance with presidents and not historical events.

    Clinton also saw the rise of the internet, complex electronics, and computer based mechanization of large swaths of the economy.

    A donkey could have been president and seen tremendous growth and prosperity under those circumstance.

    Unfortunately, there was a huge bubble under Clinton too - the dot com bubble - that bursted just as Bush was taking office and gave him a recession to clean up.

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  54. Earl,

    I should also note that "trickle down economics" is not a proper economic term, which is why in our previous correspondance I sought to translate it into actual economic policy.

    Chicago School of Economics, especially its more famous members like Friedman and Hayeck, certainly did support supply side economics, low taxation especially on business, low regulation, very little gov't actiivty in the free market except for controlling monetary policy to stabalize inflation.

    Reagan was most certainly influenced by their work, Friedman himself was an adviser.

    The large debt the Americans created, by the way, was because of a massive military buildup Reagan undertook.

    The effect of which was the destruction of the USSR as it tried to match his buildup and more or less went bankrupt.

    Bill Clinton then sought to remove much of the military spending, calling it a "peace dividend". He would have been right but for the rise of violent, Islamic extremism.

    Sometimes national security is more important than a balanced budget!

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  55. @Hinchey's Store - Please don't put words in my mouth.

    I specifically said that the Working Class and the Middle Class would be the carry the burden of the tax.

    I did not say that all business owners are upper class, far from that. I'm a small business owner myself, and I bust my ass off. But because I am on the lower end of the income scale, I will spend a larger proportion of my income on taxable goods. The tax will cost me more.

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  56. Jesse:

    You are certainly entitled to your interpretation of history.

    I'll disagree with several of the points you made:

    The build up of debt under Reagan was because it was initially his intention to cut spending as he cut taxes. David Stockman resigned in disillusion over this Reagan failure. Reagan was in many ways a failed President. His one accomplishment was the end of the cold war and there are many who believe he only hastened the inevitable. I would recommend you read the following:

    http://www.amazon.ca/Tear-Down-This-Myth-Distorted/dp/141659762X

    TDE is a perfectly acceptable economic term that accurately describes what those like Bush II would like us to believe. Your attempt to fit it into something it isn't doesn't make it so. It was fomerly known as Horse and Sparrow economics.

    If one lowers taxes which Freidman advocates there is no need for those taxes to be on income, any tax decrease will suffice. Did Freidman advocate a VAT or national sales tax?

    Freidman also advocated legalizing prostitution and all drugs. He was a Libertarian. Fortunately Libertarians are still an insignificant portion of our political discourse. Most of us see the need for the state to be involved in things like medicare, pensions, food and labour and drug regulation as well environmental regulation. One of the reasons those like Freidman advocate low taxes is to deprive the state of the income to become involved in much.

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  57. Much of what Freidman advocated has been discredited by the events of 2007-08. Low taxes and massive deregulation permitted nothing less than the failure of capitalism. Had not government been able and willing to step in the world would now be in grips of a depression that would make the last one look like a mild recession. The greed of the banks and business left not only themselves at risk of failure but the entire economy.

    Your assertion that a donkey could have been President during Clinton's term can only be ascribed to your unwillingness acknowledge his achievements. The bubble you speak was IMO and those of many others caused by the extraordinarily cheap credit provided by the Republican Allan Greenspan who feared the Y2K hoax. The re resultant flood of money did result in a stock market boom. Greenie then went on to enable Bush to fuel the third boom in recent times and the second real estate bubble in thirty years. You might recall the mess that was the Savings and Loan crisis and taxpayer billions needed to bail out the banks on that one.

    I'm not arguing for higher taxes Jesse. I'd like to see taxes reduced and spending reduced. Where we differ is where we'd reduce taxes. I don't even object to Ontario's move to reduce business taxes, just the manner in which it is being financed. If the move were to be financed by cutting spending on corporate subsidies, all grants to the arts, sports and special interest groups I'd be applauding. If infrastructure spending were limited to mass transit, roads, railways and bridges, I'd be pleased. Rather we build new flower gardens, stage Olympics and build recreation facilities that tax payers then have to pay the operating costs on. First fix what needs fixing and if tax cuts to business do indeed generate more revenues then use them for luxuries.

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  58. Earl,

    "TDE is a perfectly acceptable economic term. It was fomerly known as Horse and Sparrow economics."

    No serious person in the field uses the term. Its like voodoo economics, its a political term used by politicians to mock others.

    The problem with the term is that its totally vague - does it mean cutting business taxes or income taxes?

    Cutting business taxes is something I fully support. Cutting income taxes, on the other hand, has far less benefit to the economy because much of the money tends to be wasted on luxury consumption. Going from 70 to 30 on the top bracket is certainly a good idea, Bush's idea of going lower wasn't worth the cost. See Laffer's theory's on optimal taxation as it relates to revenue for more information.

    Horse and Sparrow is a similiar rhetorical term, much like Kennedy's "a rising tide lifts all boats".

    Presidential speech writers are not economists. These terms may be used as short hand by laymen or those involved in politics but they are not credible economic theories.

    "Much of what Freidman advocated has been discredited by the events of 2007-08."

    No, not at all. The meltdown was caused by the convergence of a meltdown in the housing sector

    (Freidman supported tight money supply and a strong dollar, so don't blame Greenspan's easy credit on him thank you)

    $100 a barrel oil, a massive trade deficit with China, coupled with a massive influx of capital from soverign wealth funds that made the stock and real estate bubbles worse, and TOO MUCH GOV'T REGULATION.

    Low taxes are utterly irrelevent. Completely and totally. They are incapable of causing anything to crash.

    The issue with regulation is that America requires its banks to hold a certain percentage of "safe" debt.

    Asset backed securities, like those based on mortages, had a triple A rating and fit that criteria.

    Then you had the problem of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac encouraging loans be given to NINJAS (no income, no jobs, no assets).

    Not only that but Carter's community re-investment act, strengthened by Clinton, actually required that a certain percentage of mortage loans be given to minorities.

    That caused risk to go through the roof. When the economy soured and interest rates began to go up as banks got spooked the entire house of cards collapsed.

    "Had not government been able and willing to step in the world would now be in grips of a depression that would make the last one look like a mild recession."

    Government spending can only canibalize future growth. Its a question of do we take our lumps now or do we take them later ?

    And there is huge risk in this massive expansion of the money supply simply re-inflating old bubbles - we're already seeing some housing markets heat up to unsustainable levels.

    And a lot of investers are nervous that the current improvement in the stock market has no basis in reality. I believe the Gov of the BOC made a similiar observation recently.

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  59. Well Jesse history may prove one of us right or both of us wrong. For now all we're dealing with is your opinion v. mine and that's going nowhere. So that the board can move onto other things I'll end the exchange. At least in my mind our positions are quite clear and very different.

    Good fortune.

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  60. Earl,

    Or Matt Taibbi's opinion vs Megan McCardles, or Paul Krugaman's opinion vs Peter Schiff, or Obama's opinion versus Ron Paul's.

    The interpretation of economic events often break down along free market versus interventionist poliies. Part of the problem is that people with an agenda go back and cherry pick data points that seem to fit their thesis, instead of looking at the data and then coming to a conclusion.

    Unfortunately the media simply reported the "failure of capitalism" story without bothering to listen to the other side.

    You obviously find your sources to be credible and informed, as do I.

    History probably won't vindicate either of us though - people are still arguing over the great depression.

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  61. Hey Earl, thanks for trying to explain it a bit for me. My understanding of this is yes, it will hit all consumers equally. Those who can least afford more costs are definitely those with lower incomes.
    I completely understand that and I see your point. I don't like the idea of taxes in any case, but I've been the guy making $20000 (and less) total family income per year, and somehow I didn't starve to death. I have relatives in Newfoundland who have been dealing with HST for some time now, and though nobody likes tax, thousands of people aren't suddenly homeless due to the tax harmonization.

    But the flipside to that is that higher income people who can afford to blow wads of cash wherever and whenever they want will be contributing much more to government coffers even though the %'age is equal for all - everyone taxed the same, unlike with income taxes. They may not notice the cost increases as much if there is more disposable income, but they didn't notice the costs before either.

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  62. Dion_Liberal,
    I didn't put words in your mouth. I simply asked what you meant by putting these two comments together:

    "The bulk of the burden of sales taxes are generally borne by consumer. In the case of HST, consumers will pay more so that businesses can save money on administration costs.

    "Therefore this tax will end up shifting money from the lower and middle classes to the upper class."

    Now that you've clarified your position, I understand better what you meant.

    However, this is an equal tax for all classes. I'm not rich by any means, but I don't chide the wealthy for being wealthy.
    I understand that you will have less income than an upper class person would, but what does tax harmonization have to do with it? You had less than the upper class person to begin with. It's not their fault if someone has less money. They are still getting taxed - fairly in my opinion, because I don't believe that just because the wealthy have more, they should disproportionately lose more.

    If that wasn't what you were inferring, then I apologize for the tirade, but I feel very strongly that punishing people because they won't miss it as much is a strange argument to make...

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  63. Sales taxes are not an equal tax for all classes, when one class needs to spend a higher percentage of their income.

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  64. Hey Anonymous (23:36).

    Everyone is taxed at the same percentage rate.

    You said,
    "Sales taxes are not an equal tax for all classes, when one class needs to spend a higher percentage of their income."

    Fair enough, I see the point being made. However,
    to me it seems like people are blaming the wealthy for being wealthy when that argument is used. I think our perceptions of what's fair and what isn't are clashing.

    But I'm just starting to repeat myself here, so if you'd like to continue this conversation more in-depth, please hop over to my blog, and I'll happily stop annoying Eric!

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  65. Anon,

    "Sales taxes are not an equal tax for all classes, when one class needs to spend a higher percentage of their income."

    I guess you're a big Stephen Harper fan then. He dropped the GST by 2%.

    All the poor get cheques from the government every quarter that returns to them the tax they pay on essentials.

    The tax is actually rebated at 6%, so its actually a bit of free money for the poor to help them out.

    My understanding is that Dalton McGuinty is going to give similiar rebates for the PST portion of the HST, as well as help with people's property taxes.


    So for the last time, the HST does NOT HURT THE POOR in any way, shape, or form. It is a burden on the middle class and the rich and a relief for small bussiness owners who get to save money on accounting/paperwork.

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  66. It is funny to hear someone refer to a by-election as a significant factor in the next general election.

    Grasping at straws and borderline delusional is putting it kindly.

    Every major party is within their 2008 MOE results. Using decimal places is bizzare and gives this Polling data analysis the impression of a higher accuracy. (Rounding up or down)

    The Media and Opposition were unable to captialize on sustaining any damaging blows to the current government in 2008-2009.

    Review the Headlines from the Media and Press Releases from Opposition Parties in Oct 2008- December 2009

    Question Period Obsession-News Headlines (Just add scandal and gate)

    1)Economy Oct 2008-July
    2)Deficit October 2008-Sept
    3)Jobs Oct 2008-August
    4)Isotopes May
    5)EAP Feb-Sept
    6)H1N1-Nov
    7)Olympics-Nov
    8)Detainee-Dec
    9)Environment Nov-Dec

    Reality vs Spin check the Opposition how they SPIN those Files

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