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Saturday, March 27, 2010 

Saskatchewan Party Finance Minister Lets Slip Plan For Harmonized Sales Tax -HST

"The harmonization genie got out of the bottle this week, and the Saskatchewan Party government is scrambling to put it back in. At a speech to the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Friday, Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer said "there should be a good and wholesome debate (on sales tax harmonization) in Saskatchewan, beginning now, if the business community sees fit ... I expect it would welcome the debate going into the next election."

Gantefoer also suggested the government would listen to arguments for and against harmonization. "Certainly, if we see there is merit ... that's a conversation we have to have with the Saskatchewan people," he said. While not endorsing a harmonized sales tax, Gantefoer said it would have some advantages for business. "It would be simpler for business, in that they would have one set of reporting mechanisms instead of two," he said. [...]

Yet no sooner had Gantefoer's words appeared on the StarPhoenix website, Saskatchewan Party handlers were burning up the phone lines to get the story changed.

Gantefoer phoned the SP reporter and suggested that his words, while not misquoted or misspoken, were perhaps stronger that he would have liked. Then, later that afternoon, the Saskatchewan Party government pumped out a press release headlined: "Finance Minister Says No to Harmonized Sales Tax.

Gantefoer was quoted as saying: "I wasn't clear enough about the government's position. It hasn't changed in two years of being government, and it isn't changing now. We will not be harmonizing the provincial sales tax with the GST.'' Period. End of story. But is it really? Do the spin doctors in the Saskatchewan Party really believe that issuing press releases, like the one Friday, will make the harmonization issue go away? If they do, they're dreaming in Technicolor."

Regina Leader-Post

-Gantefore 'wishy-washy' on Harmonized Sales Tax for Saskatchewan

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