In my "Ask Me Anything" post, Francie of A North End Journal inquired: "Why are Albertans so dead set against a sales tax? (Seriously, unless you want to explain your fascination with Colin Firth). Actually either question will do." Well, since it's impossible for anyone to explain my unnatural hankering for Colin Firth, it'll have to be the sales tax issue, I'm afraid.
First, a bit of background for American and other non-Canadian readers. Alberta is the ONLY province in Canada which does NOT levy a provincial sales tax (PST). Everywhere else, the PST ranges from 5-10% of purchase price. Like all Canadians, Albertans do have to pay the federal goods and services tax (GST) which is currently set at 5%. We don't like it, but we pay it.
When oil prices plummet and Alberta's boom 'n bust economy falls on hard times (like at the moment), the idea is sometimes tentatively floated of imposing a PST in this province to increase government revenue. And EVERY TIME, Albertans react (or some might say, over-react) by turning into an angry, howling mob brandishing pitchforks and torches, calling for the head(s) of whoever would DARE TO SUGGEST ANY SUCH THING. Here's why:
Alberta is, of course, a deeply conservative province often called "the Texas of the North" where the ideology of individualism, free enterprise and low taxes reigns supreme. Albertans are IMMENSELY PROUD of being the only province without the PST. It confirms in our own minds precisely why we are SUPERIOR to all the rest of you WEAK, WHINY, PINKO BASTARDS in this country. In other words, being PST-free is a fundamental cornerstone of Alberta's grandiose self-image. Albertans would rather STARVE than impose a provincial sales tax. It would quite literally be political suicide for any government to bring in a PST in Alberta.
So why would any Alberta government even raise the idea of PST? Precisely in order to whip up Albertans into this predictable froth 'n frenzy. Then Albertans will more easily accept whatever OTHER tax hike gets imposed instead of the PST because, BY GAWD, WE TRIUMPHED ONCE MORE against any attempt to levy an evil sales tax.
And there you have it.
[Political cartoon by Malcolm Mayes, Edmonton Journal, 2015]