Owner of bike shop where Flaherty touted budget says he feels deceived

OTTAWA — The Canadian Press

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty takes time out to look over a bicycle after a news conference at Joe Mamma's bicycle shop in Ottawa, in this October 18, 2012 photo. The owner of the shop where Flaherty last year trumpeted the benefits of his budget, says he feels misled. (FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The owner of a bicycle shop where Finance Minister Jim Flaherty last year trumpeted the benefits of his budget says he feels misled.

Despite what the federal Conservatives say, they are raising consumer taxes by increasing tariffs on goods imported from dozens of countries, Jose Bray told a news conference at his Joe Mamma bike store on Wednesday.

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“It was a little misleading and I think calling it a tariff and saying we’re not raising taxes is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the consumer,” he said.

“I feel misled more than anything.”

Bray’s shop was the backdrop last October for a Flaherty news conference, where the minister announced measures to be included in his 2012 omnibus Budget Implementation Act.

Flaherty declared at the time that he would not raise taxes and would give small businesses a tax credit.

But the Conservatives have increased taxes, said Bray, by way of the tariffs, which will increase prices for a number of consumer products, including bicycles.

NDP critic Murray Rankin said the Conservatives are raising tariffs on bicycles to 13 per cent from 8.5 per cent, an increase the Opposition estimates will cost Canadian cyclists between $5- and $6-million annually.

The New Democrats say Canada annually imports $125-million in bicycles from the dozens of countries covered by the increase.

“Stephen Harper promised Canadians that he would not impose new taxes on them,” said Rankin.

“But he is raising taxes on bicycles and over 1,200 types of consumer goods.”

The rise in tariffs came in Flaherty’s most recent budget in March.

The document contained a notice that, starting in 2015, Canada is “graduating” 72 countries previously classified as developing to full developed status for the purpose of tariffs.

The increases are in contrast to the removal of all import duties on sporting and athletic equipment and a few other items that Flaherty highlighted in his March budget.

Those changes could mean lower prices for such things as hockey pants and gloves, as well as baby clothes.

The government estimates that the elimination of duties on sports equipment and baby clothes will cost $76-million a year, while the treasury will gain $333-million annually through increasing other tariffs.

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