By Letter to the Editor on December 10, 2020.
I found the guest column by Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation (Lethbridge Herald, Dec. 2) somewhat disturbing. Whether or not Alberta should implement a provincial sales tax (PST) should be, of course, a matter of serious debate, but it should not be a matter of choosing ideology over reason, and Mr. Terrazzano’s column is pure ideology.
The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation (CPT) is a federally incorporated, non-profit organization that was founded in 1990. Since it is a non-profit, it doesn’t pay taxes. It describes itself as “A citizen advocacy group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government,” and claims to have over 200,000 supporters. However, the actual membership is limited to 20 members, and it often has as few as five. A quick look at their web page will give you a good idea of its mission.
In this column, Mr. Terrazzano exhorts Alberta MLAs to oppose a PST. His argument doesn’t take into account regional differences or current exigencies such as COVID-19. It expresses the opinion, not of a huge mass of people as is implied by the term “federation,” but of a very few people who see taxation in any form as evil. Did the CPT decided to send out this letter now because they sense that the UCP government is not quite holding firm on their “No PST” line?
Taxes support our social programs, pay for education, medical services, policing, provincial and municipal infrastructure, and much more. They underlie a structure that exists for the greater good. Less tax does not mean better government, nor does it automatically create an “Alberta advantage.” An Alberta provincial sales tax would insure consistent and reliable revenue that would mean we would not be subject to the ups and downs of the oil industry or other factors. It would also mean that visitors to our province would contribute to our provincial coffers, as Albertans do when they visit any other province.
It’s unlikely that the idea of a PST will even get to the legislature for debate. But wherever and whenever that debate occurs, let it be on the basis of facts and informed opinion, not ideology.