Just a few short weeks after the Liberals were voted back into power, British Columbians were hit with a nasty blow. A new tax was announced – one which the Liberal leader Gordon Campbell had openly stated was not on their political agenda. HST became the most debated tax, the province had ever introduced. Harmonized Sales Tax became a dirty word to many.
Since the day the provincial government made the bold decision to proceed with the implementation of the HST in spite of much public outcry, the outcry has not stopped. Ex-premier and ex-leader of the Social Credit Party Bill VanderZalm climbed on board with other disgruntled British Columbians to fight off the HST with a very public petition. The petition was signed by thousands of people in communities all across the province. HST eventually led to the resignation of Gordon Campbell last November.
Premier Christy Clark now sits as leader of the province. The anti-HST petition ended with over 700,000 signatures on it. A provincial Supreme Court justice ruled that the petition was credible. The petition led to just cause for a referendum to see just how disgruntled British Columbians were by the tax.
Even the referendum itself has been fraught with controversy. Other political party’s and individuals outside the Liberal government called the Liberal ad campaign misleading. In September 2010 documents were released proving that the Liberal party was engaged in discussions at the federal level about the HST prior to the May 2009 election.
The announcement that the HST was defeated came on Friday, August 26. “This is great news,” said Fraser Nicola MLA Harry Lali upon the announcement by Elections BC of the defeat of the HST. “It is a great victory for the people of B.C and for democracy.”
“The people did not believe the misleading ad campaign ran by the Liberals,” Lali continued. “This news is great for small business and for consumers in this province. On the street and with calls to my office, British Columbians were angry about the reversal of the question on the ballot and about the whole thing. The whole thing was based on a lie. Everything about it misled the people.”
Lali is still disgruntled by the Liberals actions. “British Columbians were told that the HST would be revenue neutral – that was just another lie. The Liberals changed the dates over and over again on the details of the HST and now there is a real mess to clean up. It didn’t have to be this way.”
As “the mess” is cleaned up, Lali demands quicker action by the Liberals. “They are saying that the re-implementation of our old tax sytem of GST and PST will take 18 to 24 months. That is ridiculous. This could easily be dealt with by this coming July of 2012, but of course the longer it takes the more revenues they bring in.”
The NDP party vow to make sure that the taxation system of PST and GST is brought in as it was. “That’s the way it has to be,” stated Lali. “They have to go back to how it was.”
In conclusion, Lali states he is ready to continue the fight for democracy in B.C.. “The B.C. Liberals are not to be trusted,” stated Lali. “They say one thing and do another. The railway fiasco is just one example. They said they wouldn’t make cuts to health and education, but they did. This HST defeat should be a rebuke for the Liberals and kill some of their momentum. The NDP stood up for the people of B.C. and we won.”
B.C. Conservatives leader John Cummings also spoke about about the HST defeat. “The people of British Columbia have spoken,” said Cummins. “After millions of tax dollars were spent to defend the HST, the Liberals failed to convince British Columbians that the tax was in their best interest.”
Over 1.6 million ballots arrived at the offices of Elections B.C, with the majority of British Columbians voting “yes” to extinguishing the HST.
Cummins continued, “This vote is as much a rejection of the manner in which this Liberal government conducts the people’s business, as it is a rejection of the HST.”
“That said, the government must act swiftly and repeal the HST by January 1st, 2012,” said Cummins, “and the scope of the reinstated PST should not be expanded beyond its pre-HST reach.”