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HST decision making ripples in Ontario's election

Tim Hudak, the opposition party leader vying to become Ontario's next premier, is telling voters to treat the coming election as their own HST referendum.

"Our referendum in Ontario is Oct. 6 - it will be a very clear choice," Hudak told the Toronto Star. "A government I lead will take the HST off the basics."

Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, tried to drum up an HST rebellion on his campaign trail in 2009, though the tax (which came into effect July 1, 2010) failed to generate the kind of public opposition in Ontario as it did in B.C.

Hudak has admitted he won't scrap the tax should he be elected, but has promised to take the 8 per cent provincial portion of the HST off home heating and hydro bills -- something the NDP claims was their idea first and a position the Liberals have also adopted.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath has gone one step further, promising to slash four per cent of the HST on gasoline over the next four years if election.

Will the demonstrated will of the people here in B.C. influence Ontario's provincial campaign? Probably not, most observers argue.

Only 9.6 per cent of voters in a recent Nanos poll listed high taxes as a top-of-mind concern, points out the Star's legislative columnist Martin Regg Cohn.

"The harmonized sales tax is going to rain on the government's parade," Greg Lyle, managing director with polling firm Innovative Research Group told the Ottawa Citizen. "There will be people who say it has an impact. But unless someone's got a policy to wedge the government on it, I don't think (it will change the campaign)."

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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