Over the last couple of days, the Conservatives have unveiled two more of the planks of their platform.
First, they have promised to knock 2% off the GST. Aside from conveniently ignoring two basic facts about the GST this one almost sounds like they went over to the woodpile used for fence lumber - it's at least not completely filled with mythology. Of course, we have to remember that the GST was introduced by Brian Mulroney. Although Jean Chretien promised to eliminate the GST when he swept to office in 1993, the Liberals soon realized that their promise was quite impractical.
Optically, reducing the GST will be a very appealing campaign promise for a lot of people - it's a very direct tax that they see every day when they purchase something. People don't like being reminded of taxes in their every day lives. A 2% cut doesn't sound like it's all that big (supposedly $400 per year for an "average" family) I'm not so sure that a 2% reduction in the GST is good fiscal policy -
The second promise to Address Health Care Waiting Times is a complete crock. The problem here is not establishing "standardized waiting times", but rather getting the squabbling premiers - each with their own agendas - to agree to a set of measurements, and some form of accountability. The federal government has taken numerous swings at this particular topic over the last ten years or so. Listen carefully to Harper's statements - "for any publicly insured treatment", along with a series of denials of a "parallel private system". Uh-huh. Sure. I suppose it's true enough, there won't be a parallel system, once they eviscerate the public system to the point where all it will do is treat the unprofitable cases - like say - terminal cancers. (whereupon, premiers like Klein will whine incessantly about the "unsustainability" of the system, and the unavailability of qualified doctors.
Not bad - the CPC has driven nails into one plank of actual wood. The rest of their platform is composed of wood sufficiently rotten that even I wouldn't try reusing it. (and believe me, I've managed to reuse some amazingly dodgy lumber when I've rebuilt fences...)