11.02.2010 02:36 PM

Harper Reformatories were ready to tax poppies – until McGuinty Liberals stopped them


  1. Jan says:

    Based strictly on their behavior, not their platitudes, they really don’t seem to like veterans.

  2. Fred says:

    Title should read:

    Harper Reformatories and McGuinty Liberals were ready to tax poppies – until NDP stopped them


    Give credit were it is due. Malcolm Allen (NDP Welland) brought it forward and graciously stepped out of the spotlight to make sure the right decsion was made.

  3. Campbell says:

    I like landing blows on the Harper Reformatories as much as the next Liberal, but I confess this letter from Duncan to Flaherty doesn’t read the same for me as it does for you Warren.
    It looks like Duncan is saying that in 1996 the federal Liberal government abolished Vetcraft shops, which caused the vet’s associations to have to purchase poppies from private companies that are obviously required to pay tax on the goods they sell. For 14 years, the veterans have lived with this “unintended consequence”. 14 years later, the Ontario Liberals have apparently figured out that this is happening, and are now asking the federal government to work with them to remove the HST obligation from the company that sells the poppies. Fair enough.
    But I wouldn’t have tried to frame this as “Harper was ready to tax poppies”. An act of the Chretien Liberals in 1996 inadvertently caused poppies to be effectively taxed. Martin continued this, as did Harper. Now we’re all trying to work together to stop it, but we shouldn’t be pretending Harper was chomping at the bit to tax poppies – this just weakens our case when we have a real deficiency of governance to point out!

  4. Dave Roberts says:

    Poppies have been subject to the GST since the mid 90’s. Who was PM then? Seems to me Chretien, Martin and Harper all missed the boat until now.

  5. Dave Roberts says:

    “Poppies have been subject to the GST since the mid-1990s when the Royal Canadian Legion began purchasing them from a private manufacturer. ”


    • Warren says:

      Dwight brought it to the the federal Conservatives’ attention as soon as he heard from the Legion. It took Harper et al. a month, still, to get their act together.

      Why didn’t Harper et al. act when they heard from the Legion – as they had?



      • Brent Cameron says:

        From the article…. “A federal government official said the decision was made some time ago, but held to coincide with this year’s poppy campaign.”

      • Dave Roberts says:

        Probably because the tax changes are retroactive to January 1, 2010. That month or so you cite is therefore irrelevant.

        • Namesake says:

          “irrelevant” – well, not to the Legionairres, who were left hanging for an extra month no doubt being greatly discouraged in the belief that they’ll have millions (?) less to spend on their programs this year thanks to this new 8% tax on their supplies… until the HarperCons ride in like white knights at the last second.

          And pace Cambell, it’s not “tripe” to bring up the fact that this wasn’t their idea, since they were waving it as evidence that they really DO support vets, after all…. despite all the mounting evidence about the way they’ve been bringing in the lump sum disability payment in the deliberate attempt to lower their overall benefits compare to the old lifetime system, and how they’ve been in on the bureaucracy’s attempt to sideline or discredit the advocates. Now it looks more like they went along with it as an attempt to change the channel, rather than because they genuinely care.

          • Dave Roberts says:

            Namesake, since the Legionairres have been paying GST on these poppies since 1996 they have hardly been left hanging and obviously have planned their programs accordingly. The change to their planning occured when the HST was intoduced by the provincial government, not the feds. The total savings to the Legion is $780,000 Canada wide (including the provincial portion of HST in applicable provinces).

          • Namesake says:

            nice try, straight from the Church of Harpocrisy… HST? That’s got nuthin’ to do with us, that was a provincial decision….

            But it looks like EVERYone with responsibilities in this area have dropped the ball on this, except for the NDP MP Malcolm Allen (who also came onto it pretty late, just last year, and was pretty quiet & ineffective about it)…

            – the Legion themselves, for not advocating to get an exemption for this 14 years ago;
            – all the Veterans Affair Ministers & their ADMs & staff since, for not noticing or doing something about it all this time, either;
            – the Harper gov’t & the other parties for not championing & expediting this Bill of Allen’s last year, even tho’ it was just about the 5% GST at that point (altho’ from that letter linked above, maybe they were getting it refunded all these years? Except that’s contradicted by the news stories saying they’ve been paying $300,000 on the $6-M they’re paying to the TO. company that makes them);
            – the current Fed. & ON Finance dep’ts for not flagging it as one of the items that should probably be exempted when they hammered out the HST details last year or earlier this year;
            – the Legion and MP Allen for not getting to the ON Lib. gov’t’s attention on this until Sept. (if that’s the case), even tho’ everyone knew the HST was coming in for a long time;

            AND Harper’s team for playing cute with statements like this,

            “Annette Robertson, a spokeswoman for Flaherty, said the department has spoken to the Legion regarding the tax. She said she urged Canadians to “stay tuned” for updates regarding the HST, but could not elaborate.”*

            … if that meant they were deliberately keeping the Legion in the dark, as well, until they timed their announcement for their own political purposes.

            * that statement here: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/urges+feds+Legion+poppies/3730389/story.html

            the day before the actual announcement:


      • Campbell says:

        This response doesn’t adequately answer the charge that Harper shouldn’t be accused of being ready to tax poppies. They were already being taxed as a result of a previous Liberal government’s actions. This is obvious, and I’m a freaking Liberal!

  6. Brent Cameron says:

    If Dalton really cared about the vets, he’d make Remembrance Day a statutory holiday in Ontario as it is in most other Canadian provinces. Its shameful that it isn’t (and I’ll go as far to blame 40 years of Conservatives and Rae before him as well).

      • Bill Spunska says:

        If I remember right, Remembrance Day used to be a school holiday, if not a statutory holiday, in Ontario. It was the Legion that lobbied to have the school holiday retired. Their view was that it was better for the schools to be open, holding assemblies and educating students about the meaning of the day. Otherwise, November 11 became just another day off school, a day – as the Principal at my old elementary school, himself a first world war veteran, used to put it – a day for boys to “play tag, chase dogs and climb trees.” I must say that that sitting through pretty solemn school assemblies, listening to a whole lot of recitations of “In Flanders Fields,” seeing our teachers – people we as six year olds all thought were stony, emotionless bastards – get choked up, singing “Soldiers and sailors and airmen too / Fought for us across the sea . . . ,” thrilling to “The Last Post” sounded on the trumpet, listening to the stories of the veterans they brought in to plead with us to make sure it never happened again – – gave us plenty of time for serious reflection about sacrifice and remembrance.

        By the way, how did Mr. Billo, who seemed to us out-of-touch, unwise in the ways of the world and impossibly ancient, know exactly what it was that we boys would get up to without being warned against it by someone in his postion? And how did he know that it was the boys rather than the girls whom he needed pre-emptively to scold for excess rambunctiousness?

  7. Namesake says:

    Have the Legions really been paying the full GST on them all these past 14 years, even though:

    a) lots of the branches have set up individual ‘Poppy Funds’ as charitable entities to disburse the funds they raise,


    and b) charities are eligible to get 50% of the GST (and now HST) on their supplies rebated?

    (they can only go back 4 years, tho’, if somehow they didn’t know about this and want to apply for the rebate retroactively).

    But it’s hard / strange to believe that they hadn’t asked for a 100% exemption prior to this, given their mandate.



  8. Paul R Martin says:

    I understand that the provincial sales tax did not apply to poppies but the 5% GST probably did. Once Ontario adopted the HST, the full 13% would have applied to poppies. Since there is a big difference between 13% and 5%, I applaud both levels of government for acting.

    By the way, I do not think that the US election results mean anything as far as the next Canadian election is concerned. The US is a different country, with a different political system, different laws and a different economy.

  9. Paul R Martin says:

    One other thing about the Ontario HST that needs to be commented upon. It was not revenue neutral. Even with an exemption for poppies, it still isn’t revenue neutral. Ontario’s tax receipts are going up due to the HST.

    • James Bow says:

      Are we talking about the gross receipts, or after the income tax reductions are taken into account?

      • Paul R Martin says:

        It doesn’t matter how much a government sugar coats sales tax increases with rebates to some tax payers, the increase is never revenue neutral. Because of inflation, a sales tax increase will bring in a lot more revenue over time.

        • Namesake says:

          Due to inflation, yes, but that’s a red herring: ‘cuz quite possibly the net taxes collected will NOT increase more than they would have otherwise if no adjustment had been made

          maybe less, in fact — if this thing works its way through the production chain and prices on lots of things drop like they’re supposed to, when only the end product is taxed and not all the little steps/components along the way (that’s the theory, at least).

  10. Fred says:

    Before the HST was imposed onto Ontario by Harper and McGuinty….there was the NDP fighting the HST and demanding the GST off Poppies.

    I guess you can say that McGuinty asked for the tax on poppies after he imposed it.

    Proof…..Private Members Bill prior to McGuinty htiching his wagon an NDP MP’s work.


    • Namesake says:

      Right, (what) Fred Said:

      so it seems the predecessor of this was indeed introduced by the NDP MO Malcolm Allen (Welland, ON) last year, on November 5th, 2009, when it was just the GST they were still getting dinged for:


      Hansard excerpt at: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/LOP/LEGISINFO/index.asp?Language=E&query=6916&Session=23&List=aka&query_2=5959#5959

      …and got nowhere. And then got reintroduced on March 3, 2010 (after Progrogue II). And got nowhere.

      And then, what, came back on the radar once it came to McGuinty’s attention for the first time after the HST was introduced (which was the first time it _became_ a provincial matter if it was exempt from PST before), and then, what…

      simmered on the backburner, until Harper needed a bone to toss to change the channel on all the sour Vets’ stories piling up this year.

      But by all means, let’s give the NDP credit for advancing this issue, too. See, we CAN work together.

      • Fred says:

        Yes we can work together. NDP does the work and Liberals benefit. It?s an unfair loop, but then again at least a few more veterans will receive a little more service and support with the additional money raised.

        What is truly sad is that our current veterans need to take to the streets this weekend to beg their government for the support they deserve.

        The Harper government is great at committing our troops; they?re just not committed to our troops.

        • Namesake says:

          “NDP does the work and Liberals benefit.” – well, that’s not quite right here, is it.

          WK tried to take the credit away from the federal Cons. — who were taking it all unduly — to the Provinical Libs, whom he thought deserved it, until you set the record straight, which he didn’t cover up but allowed to happen (with, um, a certain Liberal supporter’s help, since you didn’t spell it out as far as you should have to make the point).

          But did Malcolm Allen do all the work he should have to get it done? It doesn’t look like it. In fact, it looks like he was way too weak & even half-hearted on this: politely introducing the PMB, but rolling over when it went nowhere, such that, what, the Legion gave up on him and approached the Ontario Liberals directly. Did Allen take it to Pat Stogran, the Veterans Ombudsman? Or to the media? Ot tell Layton to bring it up in QP every time the Cons. were countering Vets stories that they “support the troops” blah blah? I don’t think so…. since I’d never heard about this before (tho’ admittedly, I’ve only really been paying attention again these last 6 months; but I apologize in advance if he DID do all those things).

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