"It's not the responsibility of the federal government to tax Canadians in order to fund provincial programs that provinces choose to conduct," he told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
"That's their jurisdiction."
In other words, if the provinces think they need more money, they can raise their own damn taxes, thanks very much! Not surprisingly, Quebec Premier Jean Charest is not impressed:
"When Mr. Harper said, 'I'm going to fix the fiscal imbalance,' he never said, 'I'm going to fix it by asking the provinces to increase taxes,'" Charest said.
"And when he said, 'I'm going to reduce the GST,' he never said, 'I want the provincial governments to come in and take up the extra percent[age point].'"
There will be two more or less immediate results of this back-down.
The good news is, Harper has thrown away his majority, or at least will have to find a way to it through a route other than La belle Province. Quebecers did not give the CPC the seats they did because they saw this overweight, charisma-free, far right economist from Alberta and fell in love. No, those ridings were purchased with monies promised from the fiscal imbalance. Now Harper has come to town for St. Jean Baptiste Day, eaten a bunch of barbecue hot-dogs, and left without paying!
The bad news, as noted briefly above, is that the latest polls out of Quebec have shown Charest's Liberals ahead of or at least within shouting distance of their PQ opponents, and this gives the opposition yet another cudgel to pummel the provincial government with: can anyone say "betrayal"?