Ross Dayton considers himself one of Canada's biggest fans, but no amount of true patriot love can keep him loyal to the loonie now that the harmonized sales tax is on the bill in British Columbia.

"I don't shop up in Canada anymore," the Surrey, B.C., resident said as he watched cars settle into an hours-long holiday lineup at the Pacific border crossing near Vancouver.

From July 1 onwards, the 44-year-old school maintenance worker plans to make one to two southern shopping trips every week for upwards of 30 per cent savings on everything from motorcycle parts to clothing to products for his wife's hair salon.

Combined with already lower American prices, a jug of milk in Washington state now rings in at about half the price it costs a mere 15-minute drive away in Dayton's home province of B.C.

"(The HST is) absolutely a huge motivator, I'm amazed that this law has gone through," he said Thursday. "I'm a fool not to take advantage."

While the nation was celebrating its 143rd birthday, consumers in B.C. and Ontario were unwrapping the new tax that shifts costs from business to the individual's purse. The HST merges the federal Goods and Services Tax with provincial retail tax, meaning shoppers must now pay a levy on many items they never have before.

While government asserts the tax will spur investment and create jobs, many waiting patiently in idling vehicles mused that escaping the hot-button levy could have the opposite effect.

"It's counterproductive to the economy," said Nicole George, 34, from Vancouver.

"People are already going across the border to get their deals, now they're going to be pushed there even more -- it's unfortunate."

Michelle Pureza's family was hoping to pick up new clothes, shoes and anything else they liked if it meant a good deal, she said.

"I guess everybody is trying to do that too," said the 22-year-old, sitting in the back seat in a station wagon with her two snoozing sisters, while her parents nodded up front.

Dennis Mayer, who was driving from New Westminster, B.C. in a camper with his 14-year-old son Robin, chuckled he's getting a two-in-one deal skipping out on the tax by going on holiday.

"I feel sorry for the people who are going to pay it, because I'm not going to be doing it for a month at least," he said, adding he made sure to sign the popular anti-HST petition circulated by a grassroots campaign aiming to repeal the tax in B.C.

"I hope when I come back it's not there!"

Others shook their heads at what some people will do to scrimp.

"I think these people are really smart," Chuck Luttrell dead-panned. "They're spending $25 to $30 on gas waiting to get into the border to save about 10 bucks. It's the stupidest darn thing."

He hoped the incoming hit to the wallet would persuade people to make smarter shopping decisions.

"It doesn't bother me. And the reason why is because if you choose to live simply or simpler, you will actually save money with the HST."

But mountain ranges and four provinces east, Ontario shoppers watching living costs climb were instead adopting the laid-back response more often found on the West Coast.

"I didn't even think about it," said Dean Piercey as he strolled through the Toronto Eaton Centre with bags in hand. "There's not much I can do about it now."

Outside a hair salon, Morgan and Amanda Gidge surveyed their new HST-inclusive bill.

"It doesn't bother me too much, I'm sure with bigger tickets items it will," said Amanda Gidge.

"It will just be one more thing that will kind of bother me when I want to go shopping," said Morgan Gidge, shrugging.

Pondering potential longer-term repercussions, however, Samantha Edwards said she's worried how the HST will impact her family.

"My work has died down, so I'm wondering if it's scaring away clients," said the 41-year-old graphic designer. "It's going to make my invoices look huge."

Politicians, meanwhile, took a break from shaking hands and kissing red-swaddled babies on Canada Day to get a word in.

"It's not a Canada Day for people to celebrate, people are really unhappy about the HST, they know it's going to hit them hard in the pocketbook," said Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

Contrary to more than 700,000 constituents who signed the anti-HST petition in opposition, the B.C. government released a statement heralding the HST as "the right move at the right time."

The government says B.C. businesses will save about $2 billion in costs through the HST, resulting in an $11.5-billion increase in capital investment and 113,000 new jobs by the end of the coming decade.