The big issue these days is the HST plan of Dalton McGuinty. It has thrown doubts about McGuinty's continued governance, made asses out of the Official Opposition, and breathed new life into a party that is desperate for it.
When you transfer this to federal politics, it plays out a little oddly. The federal Conservatives are in support, the New Democrats are against it (they're the only consistent party, it seems), and the Liberals are kind of on the fence, with Ignatieff stating that he feels for those that will get pinched, but won't scrap any plans made by the Harper government in regards to it.
The Liberal position is, safe to say, an unsatisfying one. Which is why I want to propose ideas to help clarify our position, or at least what I think it is or should be, more.
Idea #1: Hold public hearings.
McGuinty has flat out refused to hold public hearings, which I have major qualms about. While I'm no populist, I do think the public has a right to know and question this kind of major legislation that will affect quite a lot. This is where the federal Liberals can do some good; the federal government, as the main benefactors of the HST, can hold their own public hearings in regards to the HST. Alternately, I'm fairly sure the federal government can make it a requirement that public hearings be held before implementation. It isn't hard to strong arm the province on such a small matter.
The Conservatives haven't offered an idea like this, and the NDP are just against the entire thing. Make a good Liberal compromise and hold the public hearings - we'll earn some respect, some support, and do a little good.
Idea #2: Review the HST programs.
If the federal Liberals want to distinguish themselves, they need to have a clear cut idea of what will occur. Ignatieff is right in saying that Harper has offered two standards towards HST - one for Ontario, one for BC. In the event that a Liberal government is elected, the Liberals should put forward the idea that they will review both HST programs and see where they can equalize it, then take it to the provinces for discussion and implementation, and manage the pain a little better than Harper and Flaherty have.
This doesn't mean scrap the program, nor does it mean railroad the provinces. It means working with the provinces to make it a fairer and easier transition.
Idea #3: Show the Liberal record on harmonization
We've done this before, so why aren't we bringing out our record? The Liberal government in the 1990's helped harmonize the taxes of three provinces and make the transition fairly well. There were a lot of bumps, no doubt, but as the government that made those programs successful, we have the know-how and the experience to handle it with BC and Ontario. We're the ones that want it to be successful, not just for businesses, but for consumers as well - not Harper.