AndrewScheer Needs A GST Cut

October 1st, 2019 | JH

Outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, this election isn’t going great for Scheer. If Scheer wants to get out of minority territory, he needs to make a big play. He needs to offer us a GST cut.

First, a little background.

When Stephen Harper ran against Paul Martin in 2004, he offered the usual grab-bag of Conservatism that people typically associated with the party. As a result, the election campaign fell flat and the voting masses were not inspired to get out and vote. When Harper and his team analyzed what went wrong, they realized that they needed more retail politics in order to reach out and motivate the little guy. The biggest motivator at that time was tax cuts.

Tax cuts are a great motivator for people to vote, because they are pocketbook issues that people generally understand. The best tax cuts are usually income tax cuts and Scheer has added this to his platform (only to be copied by Trudeau), but the problem with this is that people don’t totally understand the nuances of income tax brackets and how it effects their lives. If you’re reading this, you’re probably incredulous at the idea that people don’t understand it, but look at the lack of traction Scheer’s income tax cut received. People don’t really understand. What they understand is consumption tax.

When Harper held a press conference during the 2006 campaign and stood at a cash register and slapped a 5% sticker or a sign that said 7% GST…he won the election.

It was a fantastic piece of populism that brought out the voters. The opposition of course howled that it would punch a gaping hole in government revenue and that consumption taxes are a good and fair way to tax a populace.

None of it mattered. Canada’s middle class understood that their Costco trips would be cheaper and their flat screen televisions more affordable. They swung their votes to Harper with ease.

In the lead up to the 2015 election, I knew trouble was brewing. At the time Harper’s Conservatives were looking comfortable. It was assumed that due to Harper’s uninspiring, but relatively successful majority mandate, he would be rewarded with another. The economy was okay, and the pursuit of a balanced budget was achieved. Justin “just wasn’t ready” and the NDP without Jack Layton wasn’t likely to pose a threat.

Nevertheless, I wrote a letter to Joe Oliver, the finance minister at the time, and suggested that he consider cutting the GST to 3% as a populist campaign promise. I received a polite response, but the idea didn’t gain much traction. Months later it was leaked that the finance department was looking into costing out a GST cut and that it would potentially be in play for the election, but I guess they decided against it in favour of bragging about a balanced budget.

Harper badly lost the election of 2015, for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which was that his offering to voters was simply too boring and uninspired.

"It was a fantastic piece of populism that brought out the voters."

Last year I wrote another letter. This time advocating that Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives slap that 3% sticker over top of a 5% GST sticker. Pierre Poilievre sent me a polite response, but I didn’t get the impression my advice was appreciated.

Here we are today, only a few weeks away from the election and despite Justin’s four-year long gong-show of fails, the average Canadian voter is likely to return the Liberals to power (perhaps with a NDP/Green coalition of left-wing madness). A big part of the problem with the campaign has been the lack of ambition and populism. Say what you will about Justin’s lack of leadership, but his 2015 campaign promises to legalize pot, reform the electoral system and especially to run deficits in support of free goodies, were populist moves that inspired voters.

Andrew Scheer and the people behind him are running a defensive campaign. They think that presenting Andrew as the more stoic and serious candidate with a more professional and centrist platform will appeal to moderate voters that are tired of Justin’s zany schtick and the clownishness of his cabinet. In other words, they’re banking on normal people tiring of Justin’s (black-faced styled) bullshit.

The problem with this strategy is that Scheer isn’t giving people enough of a reason to vote FOR him and the Conservatives. If people are disillusioned enough with Justin, they’re going to park their vote somewhere else. They may be just as inclined to vote Green or NDP or PPC. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but so far, the polls agree with me and we’re only three weeks out, so the polls are now getting reliable.

Scheer needs to dominate the headlines and turn this election in his favour. The way to do this is to offer a big, broad populist move like cutting the GST from 5% to 3%. This will engage the disengaged and motivate the apolitical. A few hundred bucks off income tax and scrapping the carbon tax isn’t enough and offering boutique tax credits only appeals to the base that will already be voting Conservative. A GST cut will maintain the base and add hundreds of thousands of new voters looking for cheaper Costco runs. It’s not too late, the balanced budget can wait (nobody cares anyway,we’re a country of debt) and this election can still be won (with a Conservative majority).

Lower the GST!

© 2019 Poletical