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NEWS RELEASE · 3rd May 2010
Chris Delaney
Terminating agreement with Ottawa will not be difficult

The leader of the Initiative petition to repeal the HST, Bill Vander Zalm, says despite the BC Government’s attempts to sell the HST as a “done deal”, nothing could be further from the truth.

“They said the HST was a done deal when they signed the agreement with Ottawa nine months ago. Then they said it was a done deal in December when Ottawa passed the federal legislation in Parliament. Now, they’re saying it is a done deal with the legislation removing the PST this past week. But what they aren’t telling people is that what can be enacted by government, can be repealed,” Vander Zalm explained.

Vander Zalm says that the BC Liberal strategy has been to spread the passage of the HST out as long as they can to try to head off Fight HST’s attempts to stop it. Vander Zalm says his group anticipated this tactic, and that is why his petition is designed to “repeal” the tax once enacted, rather than trying to prevent it up front.

“By successfully completing the Initiative petition, we will be forcing the government to either vote to cancel the HST Agreement, thereby repealing the HST, or put the question to a province wide referendum.”

Vander Zalm points out that the HST was implemented in Saskatchewan in 1989. Two years after it was brought in, the HST was repealed by a new government, and the provincial sales tax reinstated. “It’s not rocket science – it’s called democracy. And the HST is not a ‘done deal’ until the people decide it is. Saskatchewan proved that, and we will too.”

85% of British Columbians in recent polls have said they oppose the HST.

Vander Zalm says despite the BC Liberal spin, nothing has changed, “Our strategy to defeat the HST remains the same – complete the first successful petition in BC and Canadian history, and force the government to rescind this hated sales tax. If they vote against the people’s wishes as expressed in the Initiative legislation presented to them – then we will begin Phase II of our plan – Recall.”

The BC Liberals’ have a governing majority of 13 seats. A recall of seven MLAs would bring down the government and lead to by-elections. But Vander Zalm says he believes it may take the recall of only one MLA to stop the HST – the premier himself.

“That decision is up to Premier Campbell. He can prevent his own Recall by listening to the people, and repealing his hated sales tax.”

Vander Zalm says the notion that the federal government will not abide by the wishes of British Columbians and cancel the HST does not square with Prime Minister Harper’s previous statements that the decision to harmonize is a provincial one.

“All of this legal gobbledygook about conflicting clauses that can’t be undone is sheer nonsense. The termination clause in the HST agreement is clear, unambiguous and not subject to any other part of the agreement. Besides, any first year law student can tell you that any agreement can be terminated if both sides agree.”

Vander Zalm says he can’t see the prime minister forcing BC to keep a tax that the people have rejected using the democratic process, since it would put the federal government on the same path to political suicide as the BC Liberals.

“Stephen Harper strikes me as a lot less arrogant than Gordon Campbell, and a lot smarter,” said Vander Zalm. “He’s not going to take a political bullet for Gordon Campbell, especially when the federal government must face the electorate well before the BC Government does.”

“The Liberals’ arrogant and dictatorial actions have turned the issue into much more than simply defeating a Hated Sales Tax. It has become a battle of the people vs. their own government. And there can only be one winner if democracy in BC is to survive,” Vander Zalm warned.

“And we, the people, are going to be that winner,” Vander Zalm promised.
Go Bill!
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 4th May 2010
You got to admire a guy who at his age takes up a cause and carries it through. When most people would be content to spend their time traveling and enjoying their comforts, Bill takes up a cause. It is the kind of thing one would expect the official opposition to do. Alas they are too busy with something.

This issue resonates with people. It is the kind of issue on which a political image can be built or even rebuilt.

So the question might be, is he planning a return to politics? I say if he does, it would be a good thing. Victoria might never be the same again.
Vander Zalm redeems himself
Comment by Ron Savard on 3rd May 2010
Vander Zalm redeems himself by speaking loudly and clearly for the people against a totalitarian government that has shown total disregard for the will of the electorate.
go, bill!
Comment by m.weston AKA "MBW" on 3rd May 2010
I thought I would die before I stood side by side with Mr. Vander Zalm, but by golly, I am on his side.
Why can't our government listen to us?