The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, PC
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Dear Prime Minister:
I draw to your attention Friday's remarks by Canada's Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, who said in Halifax on Friday, “If you're going to make a new business investment in Canada, and you're concerned about taxes, the last place you will go is the province of Ontario.”
These comments are the latest in a series of attacks on Ontario by your Finance Minister.
On behalf of Ontarians, let me state categorically that these comments are completely inappropriate and potentially harmful to all Canadians. The very last thing Ontario families and businesses need is for your Minister of Finance to actively seek to undermine confidence in the Ontario economy. And this is particularly true at this point in time, when Ontario is being challenged by a slowdown in the US economy, a high dollar, and high oil prices.
I am sure you would agree that an important responsibility of Canada’s Minister of Finance is to work with Canadians to strengthen our economy so that it creates jobs and supports the tremendous quality of life we enjoy. This necessarily includes working with all provincial and territorial governments so that, together, we make progress.
Minister Flaherty believes that Ontario’s only economic priority should be to cut our business taxes beyond the planned $3 billion reduction over the next three years - including the $1.1 billion reduction in businesses taxes announced in our 2007 Fall Economic Statement. You will know that Ontario's general corporate income tax rate of 14 per cent, and our corporate income tax rate of 12 per cent for manufacturers, are both below the 15 per cent federal corporate income tax rate your government will achieve in 2012 - after your corporate income tax cuts have taken effect.
I respect Minister Flaherty's right to offer his opinion but I strongly disagree with both the advice and the way in which it was offered. Ontario is pursuing a comprehensive and balanced approach to growing our economy through a five point plan:
1.Investing in the skills and education of our people so that Ontarians can win the best jobs;
2.Supporting the creativity of Ontarians as they turn their new ideas into products and services for sale to the world;
3.Building roads, public transit and other infrastructure to create jobs and enhance our productivity;
4.Partnering with forward-looking businesses prepared to invest in Ontario jobs; and
5.Cutting business taxes.
Ontarians believe it takes more than just cuts to business taxes to grow our economy. We also believe we need to help families and businesses being hit hard by powerful, global economic forces. Our plan addresses these concerns as well.
While it is understandable that our two governments may differ from time to time on matters of economic policy, it is completely unacceptable for Canada’s Minister of Finance to publicly and deliberately attack the choices made by Ontarians. Together, Ontarians are working hard to create new jobs and secure new business investment. The competition is global and fierce. Minister Flaherty's extraordinary attack on Ontario is a betrayal of the federal government's responsibility to champion the Canadian economy, both at home and abroad.
Ontarians are proud to create almost 40 per cent of Canada’s wealth and, working together, we want to do even more for our province and our country. But an attack on Ontario's choices and priorities undermines confidence in the Ontario - and Canadian - economy.
I believe we must work together - because a strong Ontario means a strong Canada. Please accept my personal best wishes.
Premier of Ontario
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 5:29 PM