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Adrian MacNair: The next battle in B.C.’s war on the HST | Full Comment | National Post

In Canada on August 16, 2010 at 01:45

Adrian MacNair: The next battle in B.C.’s war on the HST

  August 15, 2010 – 3:30 pm

Former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm battled his way through rush hour traffic on Wednesday to downtown Vancouver in order to share the decision of Elections B.C. about the petition challenge to the new harmonized sales tax. It should have been the crowning moment for Mr. Vander Zalm’s Fight HST volunteers. After all, they had claimed to have amassed over 700,000 signatures opposing the HST in the three months given the group from April to July. But while the petition succeeded, there was a snag.

The Fight HST group had easily passed the 10% minimum threshold in all 85 electoral ridings that would be required to forward an HST-killing bill to the Legislature for a vote. (These rules were determined and announced in
February by then-Chief Electoral Officer Harry Neufeld.) In fact the organizers garnered at least 15% in each of the 85 ridings, and their efforts managed to seize almost as many signatures as the B.C. Liberal party secured votes in the May 2009 election that sent Premier Gordon Campbell to his third consecutive majority government.

But the petition will not be sent to the legislature, according to a
decision handed down by Elections B.C. — though that decision was not
delivered by incoming Chief Electoral Officer Craig James, who decided not to announce the results of the petition publicly, instead delivering them privately to Mr.Vander Zalm. Mr.James had, no doubt, learned well from his
predecessor, Mr. Neifeld, about the consequences of making such public appearances.

After a series of disappointing rulings for the government announced by Mr. Neufeld — including allowing the anti-HST petition to go ahead in February and refusing to allow taxpayer-funded mailouts to be delivered to residences during the campaign — the government suddenly and unexpectedly decided not to renew his appointment, an unsubtle reminder of who is really the boss around these parts.

The Liberals went ahead with the implementation of the HST, despite incredibly strong resistance among the public and by the NDP opposition, which had attempted to block the repealing legislation of the PST. Every time the people of British Columbia found a way to present the government an opportunity to listen, the Liberals found a means of ignoring it.

Though Elections B.C. could have directed the petition directly to the B.C. Legislature, where it would have been presented as a bill before the Assembly, the Liberals could simply have defeated it with their majority. Three months of hard work and 700,000 signatures would be meaningless in a foregone conclusion of 49 votes to 35. But there’s no way that the Liberals could simply cast aside nearly three quarters of a million signatures without facing some serious public backlash.

So then, enter a lawsuit that was launched against Mr. Vander Zalm’s Fight HST petition by six B.C. business associations. Buddies of Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberals. Long-time friends and associates who are perfectly happy with a $2-billion tax shift from the corporate world to the consumer.

Mr. James has told Mr.Vander Zalm that Elections B.C. will not be sending the petition to the Legislature pending the outcome of the case before the courts. Nor will the government comment on the snag, except to protest that there wasn’t any undue political influence in the decision. This, despite the fact that any lawsuit could tie up the petition in legal wrangling for years.

The enraged members of Fight HST, turned aside by the decision of Elections B.C., would seem to be stalled in their attempt to keep Mr. Campbell’s government from running roughshod over the democratic will of the electorate. But that has only renewed their vigor for a second, and perhaps final chapter in the HST saga: The recall campaign.

The Fight HST campaign will refocus its efforts on recalling every single B.C. Liberal in all 48 remaining ridings (Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom quit the Liberal caucus in June over his belief the party was not listening to the people). That means that come November, the same organizers will attempt to secure the signatures of 40% of all registered voters in those ridings in an attempt to force byelections that could reconstitute the entire makeup of the Victoria Legislature.

If Premier Campbell didn’t realize the folly of his refusal to listen to the people before, he will surely be thinking about it as Mr.Vander Zalm and his committed group turn to a new initiative. It is with great irony that as Mr.Campbell sat down with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California on Thursday to discuss energy imports, that the rest of the province is looking for a “Total Recall.”

Adrian MacNair is a Vancouver writer and blogger. Read more here.

Posted in: Canada, Full Comment, Policy  Tags: , , , ,

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Fred603

3:49 PM on August 15, 2010

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Wake up folks . . this is Bill Vanderzalm, remembered for accepting envelopes of cash while in office and the NDP, famous for destroying the BC economy, working in cahoots in a cheap, crass political game.

The have no answer to what they would do to replace the funds the HST generates, but they would have to tax elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

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Mel from Calgary

4:20 PM on August 15, 2010

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This was an outrageous case of lying during the election about the HST, no party should be allowed to get away with this behaviour.

There is a case to be made for the HST but the stupidity of what the BC liberals did put this in jeopardy.

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Cardinal Richelieu

4:24 PM on August 15, 2010

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Gordon Campbell, like so many previous BC premiers is a “crook”. Examine this man’s history and you will discover ethically questionable behaviour. Vander Zalm was the last straight forward leader B.C. had. Let’s hope he gets a chance to exhibit plain spoken common sense as premier once again.

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4:46 PM on August 15, 2010

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Roadrobber

5:21 PM on August 15, 2010

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Wingnut BC politics as usual.

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JEST

7:17 PM on August 15, 2010

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Compared to Campells Eco -Tax atrocitys the HST is small beer.But any tax revolt is a good tax revolt.

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8:45 PM on August 15, 2010

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blackbear64

9:01 PM on August 15, 2010

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They shouldn’t have to replace the funds, they were already there, the liberals arbitrarily decided to shift it to taxpayers. They lied again, they must go. A former liberal supporter

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Jim1940

9:07 PM on August 15, 2010

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Isn’t it amazing at the amount of unintentional support shown to those of us that believe Gordo should be gone before the next election through recall of some of his MLAs.

Big business, followed by their pretentious wanna bes at the BC CofC and Western Convenience Stores, gave the recall bandwagon a boost by challenging the innocuous anti-HST petition , Mr. James decides to stupidly sit on forwarding it, Lake says he won’t accept it.

We’ll see. Too date the Liberal MLAs other than Lekstrom and now maybe Slater, have shown a combination of deficits suffered by the lion, tin man, and scarecrow combined in their non-representation of us.That is so much the case that some of them seem to be willing to be sold out to recall by the disgraceful Campbell.

All the red herrings, smoke and mirrors, and diversions, thrown up by Campbell, big business, and the apologist fools that can be fooled all of the time, won’t obscure the issue. We GET IT! Soon you will too.

Jim

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Jim1940

10:04 PM on August 15, 2010

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Isn’t it amusing that the old saw you can fool some of the people all the time still holds in this information age?

The pro-Campbell supporters of the HST in its implementation and present form just don’t get what the problem is let alone what the solutions are.

They are oblivious to the obvious poll results 70-80% against the HST as constituted and Campbell.

They are oblivious it is “revenue neutral.

They are oblivious to that fact it will be adjusted not cancelled in the end by others if not Campbell.

They want to talk about Zalm, James, Communist, Idi Amin…..

The promise is, that our mainly resource based world market driven corporations will trickle down the benefits to us in time, instead of putting it where they always do, into the already bloated compensation and severance packages of executives and senior management.

WE GET IT! Liberal MLAs will soon!

Jim

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10:30 PM on August 15, 2010

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kllmxcc

10:33 PM on August 15, 2010

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kllmxcc

10:39 PM on August 15, 2010

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ZeeBC.

10:55 PM on August 15, 2010

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I think we need to find out what business those six are in and boycott their products or services if possible.
Gordo “forgot” to mention the HST before the election and he didn’t pressure Elections BC to delay the petition. Is the Pope Catholic?
Hopefully 700,000 voters will forget the fiberals forever.

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