Conservative leadership candidate Rick Peterson proposes hiking GST to 9%

Conservative leadership candidate Rick Peterson is proposing to reverse one of the party’s central policies from the last decade and raise the GST.

Peterson, who filed his papers and joined the federal Conservative leadership race in time for the party’s second debate in December, released more of his policy ideas earlier this week.

The Vancouver venture capitalist previously said he’d cut corporate income taxes to zero to promote economic growth and create jobs.

But his expanded economic plan, released Tuesday, goes against a promise that helped the Conservatives win power in 2006 under former leader Stephen Harper.

Peterson says he would reverse the two per cent cut Harper made to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) — and raise it even further, from its current five per cent to nine per cent.

Some economists questioned the wisdom of Harper’s move to cut the tax at the time, calling the move regressive and pointing out that it added billions to Canada’s deficit.

But it was politically popular for the Conservatives and an accomplishment they campaigned on for years. 

Similar consumption taxes in other OECD countries with which Canada competes average about 19 per cent, Peterson’s release noted.

Peterson said the revenue raised would be used to balance the budget within two years and pursue the “largest-ever” infrastructure building program in Canada’s North.

Peterson, who demonstrated his bilingualism during the party’s leadership debate last month in Moncton, will have the chance to elaborate on his ideas at next Tuesday’s all-French debate in Quebec City.

Conservatives vote on a new leader May 27.

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