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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announces his decision to support Conservative legislation on HST after a special party caucus meeting on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.

Adrian Wyld

Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals will support Stephen Harper's government on the harmonized sales tax for Ontario and British Columbia.

None of Mr. Ignatieff's MPs will be allowed to vote against the Conservative legislation without facing consequences.

"This is a government bill. It is a whipped vote," the Liberal Leader said after an emergency meeting with his caucus this morning to discuss the motion.

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Mr. Ignatieff defended his position, arguing that he had always said a policy "duly agreed between a federal government and provincial government would be respected."

"This is a matter of respect. This is a matter of how the federation has to work. We are practicing a federalism of respect," Mr. Ignatieff said. "Mr. Harper, when he tore up Kelowna [the accord to aid aboriginal Canadians] when he tore up the child-care agreements, practiced a federalism of disrespect and division."

The Conservative government will bring in legislation this week to allow for Ontario and British Columbia to harmonize their sales taxes with the federal goods and services tax. In return, they will receive several billion dollars in compensation from the federal government.

It is a controversial bill that could have placed the Liberals in a bind, given that some of their MPs are not in favour of the HST.

The NDP are opposed to it and believe their stand contributed to holding to a seat in British Columbia in the recent by-elections. The Bloc have said they will support it.

(Photo: Mr. Ignatieff announces his position on Conservative HST legislation this morning. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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