The signs are certainly there. Harper is saying he won't rule it out and Flaherty is telling us there won't be any tax cuts. The combination of the two should cause more than a few ears to perk up, especially since this pair is responsible for delivering politically delicious and fiscally irresponsible tax cuts in the face of a recession which has led to a ballooning federal deficit, the likes of which hasn't been seen since days of Brian Mulroney.
Real economists disagree with the Harper/Flaherty fairy-tale approach to eliminating the deficit in "four or five years".
At the risk of digressing a bit, Harper and Flaherty have suggested that the deficit will be eliminated through strengthened economic growth. In short, if the economy grows at a regular level over the next 1/2 decade and federal spending is locked at 2009 or earlier levels, the growth-induced increased tax revenue will eliminate the visible fiscal deficit.
In order for the Harper/Flaherty whimsical method of tackling a deficit to actually work the economy would have to remain rock-solid stable, with a predictable rate of growth, for at least five years with absolutely no financial interruptions - at all. Previous Canadian governments have learned the hard way that such a process almost never works.
As a result, we were handed the GST - by a Conservative government. Subsequent Liberal governments, despite large promises to eliminate the much-despised consumer tax, learned quickly that it would put federal financing in jeopardy, particularly if the economy went sour.
Even an incompetent like Harper knows he can't sustain diversified Canadian economic growth for five straight years without some kind of event kicking his ideas in the crotch. He cannot raise the GST, for purely personal reasons. His particular and obvious personality disorder will not allow it. It would amount to the admission of an error and Harper is simply not capable of that.
However, as Harper flings us headlong down the path of an environmentally devastating bitumen-based economy, a new consumer tax, disguised as a carbon tax, (which will be spun as revenue neutral and not imposed on exports), is more than a little likely. As much as it would become little more than yet another domestic consumer "fuel tax", it would be falsely sold as an environmental initiative which will do nothing to encourage the development of clean, renewable and available sources of energy. It would however, serve to rebuild a crippled revenue stream which Harper and Flaherty previously throttled with their thoughtless dogma.
The point here, is the way Harper and Flaherty are speaking. We've seen this before. And, as virtually all psychologists will point out, when you're dealing with sociopaths like Harper and Flaherty, the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.
And with these two, there is a distinct pattern.
Mentarch lays it out perfectly. It is a "must read".