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The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) issue is the worst managed political issue in my memory and that covers a lot of ground!

The problem came from two causes – the extraordinary difficulty Premier (Pinocchio) Campbell has with telling the truth, and arrogance. He truly believed that he didn’t have to tell us about this, that we would just take his word for it. I, personally, wouldn’t take his word on what time it is.

What interests me today is the prominence the Vancouver Sun gives to the Fraser Institute’s view of the matter. This right wing “think tank” only thinks one way –  if it’s good for industry it is, a fortiori, good for the public.

Let me tell you an anecdote about the FI. Some months ago I was defending public power and water. I had remembered that once, some years ago, then Executive Director, Michael Walker had defended the notion of all water being privately owned on the grounds that private owners would make sure that rivers were well managed and used in the most efficient ways. I pointed out to Walker that the best available use of a river, as proved over and over, was as a sewer for industry and agriculture.

I decided to quote Dr Walker but first decided to check to see that he hadn’t publicly changed his mind and came across the name Dr Walter Bloch whom I remembered from his days with the FI. A simple google of his name demonstrated what I remembered – he’s in favour of consensual slavery! I mentioned this in a column in thetyee.ca and immediately was dealing with an outraged Dr Bloch! Was he denying this absurd quasi fascist notion?

No sir, he demanded that I debate the issue with him and told me that “my soul” might depend on my accepting his challenge!

Fazil Mihlar is the editorial head of the editorial page, and a member of the editorial committee of the Vancouver Sun. He is also a columnist and, are you ready for this? Mihlar was, until he joined the Sun, a fellow of the Fraser Institute. I’m sure, however, that the Milhar’s position with the Vancouver Sun and the Sun’s uncritical use of the Fraser Institute’s “experts” on the HST issue, is simply an amazing coincidence!

The FI argument, and that of economist Roslyn Kunin rests on the theory that this tax will save great gobs of money for business which will, in turn, be sent back to the consumer.

This is the “trickle down theory” about which John Kenneth Galbraith had this to say:

“If you feed enough oats to the horse, some will pass through to feed the sparrows.”

But can anyone refute the “findings” of the Fraser Institute?

The answer is yes and it’s no less than StatsCan which demonstrates two things; there is a very hefty impost on consumers and it gets harsher the lower down the income scale you go.

Somehow StatsCan, a function of the public sector doesn’t count when, to the surprise of all, the Fraser Institute weighs in on the side of business and is uncritically given prominence by the Vancouver Sun.

It seems to me that the government must show that the HST will help citizens, especially those lower down the pay scale, often the elderly, and this they have spectacularly failed to do.

3 Responses to “The HST, Fraser Institute, and Vancouver Sun”

  1. A.B. Hansen says:

    The Fraser Institute has insinuated itself into of all places, the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver. Tibet is a country ravaged by melting glaciers and shrinking streams caused by the use of fossil fuels, yet one of Canada’s most influential oil executives, a man who earns millions every year from his Encana stock, has been “selected” to sit on the Center’s board. Not that another well-known board member, Kim Campbell, has such a great environmental record either .. http://dalailamacenter.org/users/gwyn-morgan

  2. Norm Farrell says:

    The Fraser Institute is a vile organization funded by the richest citizens and corporations of Canada. They have over $1 million dollars a month to spread propaganda supporting the libertarian dream of a country free of restriction on industrialists, developers and despoilers. Owners of wealth should have all power. They would return to the days that low wage surfs were locked in warehouses for long days of labor with no right to anything, even health and safety. They lust for the time that companies could hire private armies to keep workers in line using violence and death as the intimidation factor. In my father’s day, a worker could be fired if the bosses suspected that person sympathized with the CCF party.

    The money for the F.I. comes largely from the resource extraction companies and the ones who want to eliminate public healthcare. Each person can show their approval or disapproval by avoiding companies associated with funding the think tank. For example, the Vancouver billionaire owner of London Drugs, H.Y. Louie (IGA) and many other companies is a director of the institute.

    Check out some of the other directors here:


  3. S. Tait says:

    Isn’t it ironic that tax payers pay for PRIVATE charter schools. And the graduates from these charter schools join the Fraser institute…

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