The federal government doesn’t seem interested in making life any easier for commerce in the hinterlands.
For communities scattered along the American border, one item leaped off the page of last week’s Tory budget offering. Starting June 1, Canadians who travel south will now be able to open their wallets even wider. The 24-hour tax-free exemption will rise from $50 to $200 and the 48-hour exemption will jump from $400 to $800.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stated that the measure is intended to ease congestion at border crossings and reduce the amount of lying that takes place there.
For communities like Nelson, Trail and Castlegar the move means weekend excursions to Spokane will likely add up to more dollars spent in an economy that provides no true local benefit.
“I’m not terribly concerned about the cross- border shopping because we haven’t changed the 24-hour rule,” Flaherty said.
Perhaps the finance minister should step away the from his Ottawa dreamland and speak with retailers along Baker Street. We’re certain they don’t have the same worry free attitude.
It’s disappointing to see such disregard for small business from a government that pretends it cares about this hard working sector of our economy.
Like so many decisions coming out of Ottawa, little can be done once the feds have made up their minds. So what can we do?
Just like before the budget, those who truly care about this community need to look deep into their consumer value system before spending more disposable income afar.
The fact small business in this community continues to support charities and youth sports has not changed. Your neighbour who owns a shop on Ward Street will still continue to recycle the money you spend in his store on other services in this community. The vibrancy of Nelson will always be built on the spirit of those taking risk. Customer service will always be better coming from those you pass daily on the street.
The lack of care shown by the federal government for rural Canadian border towns is disappointing. But the bottom line still weighs heavily on individual choices.