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The Globe and Mail

Ottawa says tariff on hockey helmets was a mistake

A junior hockey player takes part in the 'Practice Like a Pro' Hockey Camp help in Toronto on Saturday February 5, 2011.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

Hockey helmets are about to get a bit cheaper after the Harper government admitted to a goof Friday on a key budget measure.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is rewriting a Budget 2013 goodie package to eliminate tariffs on imports of hockey helmets after this vital piece of equipment was left off a list of goods getting tax breaks.

Finance Department spokesman Jack Aubry said Friday the government made a mistake and is now correcting course.

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The Harper government touted in the 2013 budget that it was scrapping tariffs on foreign-made hockey gear but left an 8.5 per cent levy on helmets, arguably the most important piece of equipment a player should wear. It was an odd omission given that Ottawa slashed tariffs on most of the rest of the gear used to dress hockey players. Tariffs of up to 18 per cent on hockey equipment imports are being eliminated for everything from hockey gloves, skates and shin guards to elbow pads, shoulder pads and sticks.

Tariffs are a tax on imports, often for protectionist reasons, that can generate revenue for the government.

Mr. Aubry said Finance will add helmets to the sports gear receiving the tariff break.

"It has been brought to our attention that hockey helmets were not included on the list of products receiving tariff relief. This was an oversight at Finance and they will be eligible for tariff relief going forward," the Finance Department spokesman said.

The Budget 2013 sports gear break cut tariffs on a variety of sports equipment, including cricket gloves, sailboards and golf clubs.

The Finance Department calls the budget measure a "test case" to see if prices on sporting goods will fall as retailers and manufacturers pass on the benefits of the duty reduction to consumers.

The Conservative government has reaped a whirlwind of consumer confusion about a separate move in the 2013 budget that will end up raising tariffs on hundreds of imports.

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Ottawa is hiking duties on imported goods from more than 70 countries, including China, to help retire the deficit faster – a move that could cost Canadian consumers $330-million more a year in higher retail prices.

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