THUNDER BAY – This week I want share some of my observations about how the HST is already hitting our wallets and also address some concerns regarding a national news story that my offices have received some calls about.
As expected, the HST arrived at our gas pumps with a giant thud last week. Like many in our neck of the woods I filled up June 30th to avoid as much of the damage as possible, but eventually I had to hit the pumps again on July 1st. In one day, the price of gas in Upsala went from $117.9 a litre to $125.9 a litre. For those of you on Facebook who don’t believe me you can see a picture at the following address: http://tinyurl.com/HSTonGas-July1-2010. Needless to say, anger was the emotion I saw most on people’s faces as they filled up in Upsala.
Unfortunately, the gas price increase is just the leading edge of the HST sword of consequences. The first hit is $4 per tank of gas (more for truck owners), but the next phase is for lack of a better expression the “hydro and haircut” phase. Sometime in the next 2 to 4 weeks many of us will be visiting the barber or hairstylist and receiving a hydro, cable, or internet bill in the mail. This next phase could also be called the “death by a thousand cuts” phase since many of the goods and services we purchase each month will being take more and more of our hard earned dollars in drips and drabs. We can expect to feel some frustration when see these relatively small increases on a large number of items, but confusion when we reach the end of the month and we have a lot less money in our wallets and bank accounts than we are used to.
At any rate, the HST appears to be here to stay thanks to the Harper Conservatives and the McGuinty Liberals who collaborated to run up record federal and provincial deficits and then levy this unfair tax on our families to repair the damage they caused. The implementation of the HST by the federal Conservatives and provincial Liberals may leave you wondering ‘who do these people think they work for?’ With New Democrats you should never have such worries, which leads us nicely into the second topic of the column this week.
Last week it was reported that many MPs continue to have side jobs, own businesses, and collect other income while serving in office. Here is a quote from one of our local stories on the issue; “151 of Canada’s 308 MPs are either receiving income outside of their MPs salaries or have an ownership stake in a private business.” I am one of those MPs and was named in the story, so I would like to take a moment here to clarify things on this matter.
I am an owner of a small business called Rafferty Communications which specialized in writing and doing voiceovers for different clients in the media and education industries. This business has not operated since 2008. When you elected me as your MP my time became too restricted for many things, including operating a small business, so the operations of Rafferty Communications were put on hold indefinitely and will remain so until I cease being your Member of Parliament.
The national media found a news story here because MPs are required to disclose any potential conflicts to the independent Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and the disclosures for 2010 were recently posted online. You can review my own full disclosure here: (http://tinyurl.com/Rafferty-Disclosure-2010). Given the interest this news story has generated I would like to make the following statement; since you elected me as your Member of Parliament I have never performed any paid or unpaid work related to Rafferty Communications, and the operations of that company have been put on hold indefinitely while I serve as your Member of Parliament.
In closing this week’s column I regret that New Democrats did not have enough MPs or MPPs to stop the passage and implementation of the HST and I share your frustration with the hit we are taking at the pumps and in our wallets. Conservatives and Liberals have forgotten who they really work for, but Canada’s New Democrats have not. That is why I have disclosed my ownership of Rafferty Communications and why the operations of that company have been suspended for as long as you elect me to serve as your Member of Parliament. I am honoured that you elected me to serve as your MP and I will continue to put my full energy into representing your interests -and your interests alone- while I am in Ottawa.