I see the TJ is calling for sin taxes as a way to raise revenue although they roll in pop and chips under this rubric. I am not sure Vachon Cakes should be in the same category as gambling, booze and cigs but I guess these days sin is in the eye of the beholder (or sinner in this case).
When I took that course last spring on innovation in economic development at Harvard, the lady sitting next to me was from Denmark where her son – a member of the government – was in charge of implementing a sin tax (as defined above) in that country. They rolled it out even as we were at the course.
They dumped it six months later – it was deeply unpopular mainly because people thought it was unfair – tax pop but no tax on very fat imported cheese.
I don’t often disagree with the folks at the TJ but this time I feel compelled to. There are other ways to impact social behaviour that putting more tax on selected food groups. I guess if there was a national or even international move it would be easier but for a province to do it alone – tough politically for sure. The NB government has displayed a desire to proceed cautiously across just about every public policy issue – I don’t think they would jump into something like this.
They may raise the HST a point or two – but don’t bet on it before the election. Now they have said the budget wouldn’t be balanced before the election so there is no political reason to raise the HST.
In the end we are out of balance – structurally. The Taxpayer Federation wants goernment to slash and burn programs. The Business Council – yes the Council – is calling for tax increases. Others want a greater focus on economic development. The feds and their 40% transfer payments are out there in a bit of limbo.
Like any Solmonesque and politically tuned government, they will likely do a smorgasbord of things – raise some taxes, commit to some spending cuts, try and raise new revenue elsewhere. The Lord folks loved to raise fees way back when. That way you piss off everyone a bit but not a big swath of voters a whole lot. The latter is what kills you – if Al Hogan turns lock stock and barrel against you – you end up with 11 straight days with the front page story on the evils of toll highways. By election day poor old Camille Theriault had little horns coming out the sides of his head.