Standing up for our saris and spices

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BY JASBIR SANDHU
MP for Surrey North
 
STORY-4-ITEM-6
 
As an advocate for small businesses and consumers in Surrey North, I am ardently opposed to the Conservative government’s proposals to implement a Sari and Spice Tax that would unfairly target South Asian clothing retailers, grocers and restaurants, as well as their consumers. Having owned a restaurant myself, I understand the important role that these taxed spices play in South Asian cuisine and the effect that this tax increase will have on small businesses and families that have no choice but to import these items. Introducing a 6% tax on saris and a 3% tax on ground spices imported from India, as the Conservatives plan to do, will disproportionately affect our community by making essential cultural and consumer items more expensive.
 
More outrageous still is the reasoning behind these tariffs. Tariffs, such as the Sari and Spice Tax, are designed to protect local industries; however, Canada has no domestic sari industry and, as a result, additional taxes will be levied. In terms of spices, with the exception of coriander, Canada does not produce the other spices used daily by families and businesses alike and the proposed taxes will make these spices more expensive for everyone. In the absence of any local industry to protect, these tariffs are unfair and unnecessary.
 
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the federal NDP, has already spoken out against the Sari and Spice Tax and I am encouraging members of the community to do the same. The saris and spices on which Conservative government has proposed tax increases are an essential part of daily life and, as such, consumers and small businesses should not be punished for their reliance on these goods.
 
We, as a community, must make our voices heard in order to let the Conservatives know that we oppose this unfair tax that disproportionately targets our community, small businesses and consumers. I, along with Tom Mulcair and my NDP colleagues, will continue to fight for what’s right by opposing the Sari and Spice Tax and standing up for Surrey business owners.