A few thoughts on the Liberal decision to support the HST legislation. Obviously, the federal Liberals are in a cramped position, although not as precarious as some would suggest.
Today's decision comes as no surprise, and frankly it was the right one. The federal opposition Liberals don't decide what elected provincial governments do, within their own jurisdictions. Had the federal Liberals decided to oppose, I'd question the federalism framework, clearly overstepping their bounds. At the heart of the issue, is the question of respecting the provincial desire, really apart from a debate on the merits of harmonization. People are free to interject their own agendas onto this decision, and that is where the "problematic" component lies. But, really that perspective is a political consideration, separate from the respective jurisdictional considerations. It's hard to fault the Liberal decision on a philosophical level, unless of course you endorse the incoherent message that Ottawa is right to thwart legally available requests from the provinces.
Voters have remedies available to express their outrage over the HST, and that anger should be directed towards those that brought forward the legislation. I'm not sure I buy the "guilt by association" wishful thinking, that places blame on secondary, after the fact, sources, who really are respecting the provincial will. There is a risk to the federal Liberals, but to date this is nothing more than speculation. I note that while the Ontario Liberals have stumbled in the polls, the NDP haven't advanced at all, voters have moved elsewhere. I notice the B.C Liberals falling flat, mostly because they hid this policy during the last election. I notice no corresponding UPTICK in federal NDP support for both Ontario and British Columbia. This fact suggests a separation, that this clearly provincial matter isn't spilling over to the federal scene. I know, I know, you just wait now, but really it's all speculation, so talk of "damage" is just that.
I'm not convinced that the federal NDP enjoys the credibility to really make gains on the HST issue. The only evidence seems to be retaining a seat in a quirky by-election, with dreadful turnout. Pretty much a whatever from here, or at best something I wouldn't dare draw any predictive conclusion from. Others will, but consider the sources. I think there's a real political opportunism component at play here, and the NDP as champions on the taxation issue, one has to wonder how much it resonates beyond the already sympathetic. This isn't to say a risk doesn't exist for the Liberals here, but it really does remain to be seen.
I'm glad the Liberals took an early stand here, instead of coming out on the fence, until the final decision had to be made. Effectively, the Liberals have taken the air out of debate, this will pass, so Ottawa will focus on other matters. Again, that doesn't mean the firm decision allows the HST to disappear, because others will ensure it doesn't, but only that it was the path of least resistance.
Respecting the will of the provinces. The horror.
BCL is in key.