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A NOBLE PURSUIT: The deplorable HST decision

Sentinel reporter Andy George

There’s still time to submit your harmonized sales tax (HST) referendum vote – but as far as how one should vote, now that’s a more complicated path to tread (ballots my be in the mail or returned in to a Service BC office by Friday, August 5).

 It is my opinion that there are only very small differences between the HST and the combination of provincial sales tax (PST) and the goods and services tax (GST) which is why the debate is so cantankerous and without a clearly desirable outcome. Both systems of taxation invariably pass on costs to consumers. Under either system, people lose.
Therefore, this HST referendum is not about the choice between which pockets the government will pick. In my view, it’s all about catching them in your pants and slapping their wrist!
The Liberal B.C. government of Premier’s Campbell & Clark have outright liedto B.C. citizens, and have literally insultedus by attempts to deceive, mislead, and confuse. Let me elaborate on a few:
  • the Liberal Government told the restaurant and construction industry in writing at election time that they had no intention of implementing the HST;
  • documents obtained by the media show that the finance Ministry was in discussions with Ottawa months before the provincial election. The documents show officials had detailed, regular discussions with their Ottawa counterparts, going so far as to negotiate a number of complex provisions, such as a 12 percent rate, length of term, and other detailed clauses;
  • the HST was introduced on a hot summer Friday afternoon in August 2009, the same day the Braidwood Commission published its report on the tasering at the airport that took a man’s life. The government tried to slip it under the radar. It was a deliberateattempt to deceive the people. 
In the HST Referendum Voters Guide (provided in each voting package), the second paragraph on page 1 reads, “Although originally scheduled to take place in the fall of 2011, the B.C. government of Premier Christy Clark moved the referendum date forward, while also providing for a lower cost mail-in voting process.”
Does this seem questionable to any of you? It seems to me like the government moved the referendum date forward andchanged the procedure to mail-in, so as to coincidewith a known postal union strike that turned into a lockout! At this point there has been nothing so detrimental to the cause of kill HST supporters than the postal fiasco which interrupted the mail-out of ballots, set an extension date for mail-back, and thoroughly took all the wind out of their sails by diverting attention away from the vote itself.
Worse yet, a large number of summer vacationers and northern workers simply do not have access to their voting package. On top of that, information of the July 22 deadline to apply for the package may not have reached those who qualify.
Fight HST leader and former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm (who lead the petition against the HST) says the organization has already received hundreds of emails and phone calls from worried voters who didn’t get a referendum ballot in the mail, called Elections BC’s telephone hotline to get one and still have no vote with the Aug. 5 deadline looming.
“No registered voter who contacted Elections BC before the July 22 deadline and who has not yet received their ballot should be denied a vote – that would be an affront to democracy,” Vander Zalm said. “Elections BC has the power to remedy this situation, which threatens to disenfranchise thousands of voters through no fault of their own. Elections BC must act now to solve this problem.”
This is a historic event! For the first time in the history of the entire British Commonwealth, the people peacefully rose up and opposed their government using a Citizen’s Initiative Petition; to repeal the HST with such force and in such numbers that the government had no choice but to listen.
Unfortunately, the government has gone to incredible lengths to undermine the integrity of this entire democratic process. It is laughable at how the referendum has become a three-ring circus. The government hasn’t taken the position of the people seriously – just pay attention to their pro-HST campaign of stickman ads – it suggests that B.C. residents have the comprehension of a grade school youth.
And which words are used? Jobs, economy, family! The same Conservative message that swept Harper into a five year free-for-all are once again being employed to target individuals forced to work three jobs just to get by who have no time to put serious research into vote consideration. They are being effectively brainwashed by the simple words that resonate with their daily drudgery.
When confronted with these lines ask yourself if this is really the aim of the program? If the HST was truly as selfless as it’s been played up to be, why then did the Conservative federal government offer a $1.6 billion transition payment (payoff).
And while my aim is not to speculate, why was former Premier Gordon Campbell (who lied about intentions of instituting the HST) appointed Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom? Was this another example of scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours? Finally, what this all boils down to is this: do the governments of Canada truly have its citizens’ best interests at heart?
It seems our governments impose whichever measures their whim dictates upon us.  They do it through means of misdirection, coercion, and appeals to economy and our very livelihood. After the referendum votes are tallied, we’ll truly see if these methods of subversion ultimately created complacency in British Columbians.
Remember the most important thing is to vote – get your ballot in the mail or turn it in to a Service BC location (like the one located at Market & 2 St. in downtown Grand Forks) by Friday, Aug. 5.
Information gathered from: