Well, Harper's getting the headlines he hoped for (online anyway: see here, here, here and here as well), but the fine print shows it's just a 1% cut to the GST (currently 7% - would go down to six for the next five years, at which point it would go down to five).
This should take most of the attention away from yesterday's stumbles in Quebec City, as craftily summarized by Meaghan over at Somena Media, but it won't get him much traction in provinces like Quebec and Ontario - each of which have an additional 8% provincial sales tax piggy-backed onto the GST. What good will it do Ontarians, who presently calculate 15% in their heads while in line at the checkout, to only pay 14%? And then to have to look all the way down the line to 2011 before it drops to 13?
In Quebec (although it's still unbelievable to me that they got away with this in the first place), the GST amount charged is taxed by Quebec at 8% as well as the total, which would bring the current 15.56% to 14.48%, lowered presumably to 13.4 in 2011. And this is assuming the provincial rates stay where they are.
In Alberta, where there is no provincial sales tax, it's arguable this would be enough for consumers to notice the difference on their bill, but a measely 1% doesn't amount to a hill of beans for voters in the two provinces where Harper so desperately needs to pick up seats. I seriously doubt this will be a vote-swinging campaign promise, and if that's what the CPC braintrust is hoping for, they'd better have some juicier planks to come.
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Update: I know I'm starting to sound like a Dipper, but I can't help but point out that Layton is showing a better understanding of what issues are priorities to Ontarians. (Any Ontarians out there who care to comment?) Now Jack: what about the pulp & paper industry?