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Thursday, April 14, 2011

A time for action...

"Whereas; the high cost of energy is proving to be a hardship on the people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and...

whereas; heat is a basic necessity of life and a lack of heat is a health concern,...

we, the undersigned residents of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador hereby urge the House of Assembly to ask the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to remove the provincial portion of the HST from all forms of heat"...

Hi to all...

Ten years ago, on March 28, 2001 our consumer group presented a petition to the House of Assembly requesting that the government of the day remove the tax on heat. Some 55, 000 consumers and residents of the province signed the petition to remove the tax, with those signatures being gathered over a period covering three weekends.

It was one of the largest petitions presented in the House of Assembly up to that point.

All three political parties spoke to the tax on this necessity of life with the governing liberals keeping the tax in place, as they would suffer a loss in revenue, and the conservatives promising to remove the tax if they ever formed the government.

How times have changed!

For the past seven years since the conservatives have formed government, and again on Tuesday, this government will again tell the people of the province of a burgeoning surplus all from improving oil royalties. We will be told that the province’s coffers are again, overflowing with the benefits of added oil revenue.A small part of that reason will also be due to the fact that, with the failure of the government to remove the tax on heat all those years ago, several million of that surplus may very well be because someone in this province had to make a choice between heat and food.

Again, on the tenth anniversary of the presentation of the petition in the House of Assembly, the people of the province will be asked to sign a petition to be presented to the premier and finance minister asking his government for the removal of the tax on heat.

This time it is different and, in some ways, a little more desperate. Oil prices are forecast to remain high for the long term, as are electricity rates also forecast to escalate in the coming years. There is no sign of relief in sight.

That quest begins Friday, April 15th with the start of a movement to get the taxes taken off this necessity of life and also a growing health concern for everyone. With projections of rising electricity costs to consumers yet to come, and no retreat in sight for petroleum product users alike, consumers and residents will be asked to participate in sending a clear message to government. Collecting a tax on a necessity of life is unacceptable in a time when this government (and the federal government) both are enjoying the benefits from our natural resources, and just a short twenty four hours after government-owned NALCOR has applied to the Public Utilities Board for an electricity rate increase to come to consumers on July 1st, 2011...because of the rising cost of oil.

Clearly, it is time to give back to the people who will need it most! Energy costs are rising and no one deserves to pay for a necessity of life.

Tomorrow afternoon, the prayer of petition will be made available on the NDP Party website at and also listed on my blog for download and completion. There will be an address to return the signed petition to.

As well, the petition will be emailed, or mailed, to every municipality that is in the 2010 municipal directory. We're hoping that every municipality will post this petition where everyone in their respective communities can avail and sign it, and then send it back to us for presentation in the House of Assembly.

If you do not have an email address but wish to help us in our quest to gather names for this petition, we're asking you to phone us at the NDP offices at (709)729-0270 and we will forward a petition off to you.

Please pass the petition around and get others to participate in this exercise.

There is no greater need, and the time has come to do this now...


Oil is trading higher.

Electricity rates are going up.

...and someone out there is being forced to make tough choices.


George Murphy

Group researcher

Consumer Group for Fair Gas prices

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