NEWS RELEASE · 31st May 2010
Fight HST petition reaches 10% requirement in all 85 ridings
600,000 signatures province-wide, 71 ridings pass 15% or greater threshold, including Vancouver Quilchena.
Vander Zalm calls on Premier Campbell to conduct a “free vote” to repeal HST
Port Coquitlam – Fight HST lead organizer, Chris Delaney, says the petition to repeal the HST broke 600,000 signatures province wide this past weekend, and crossed the 10% minimum signature threshold in all 85 electoral districts. He says 71 ridings have hit 15% or better, including Finance Minister Hansen's own riding of Vancouver Quilchena.
Delaney says organizers are on track to achieve 15% or more signatures in the remaining 14 ridings by the end of next week. “This report represents only 70 of 85 ridings, with a number of ridings not reporting this week, and others still tabulating results from the weekend. We should make our internal 15% target in all ridings by the first or second week of June.”
Fight HST leader, Bill Vander Zalm, is urging Premier Gordon Campbell to conduct a free and open vote to repeal the HST when the petition Bill is presented to the legislature later this fall.
“We are calling on Premier Campbell to allow his MLAs to vote according to their constituent’s wishes to repeal the HST. With so many Liberals in weak ridings where they are certain to be Recalled if they vote against the petition, it is only fair to allow them the chance to save their political careers,” said Vander Zalm.
Vander Zalm said that the Initiative Act was designed to reflect public opinion on issues of major importance to British Columbians. Not allowing MLAs to vote in support of their constituents wishes would be completely contrary to the spirit of the legislation.
“When Premier Campbell was first elected in 2001, he put out a paper stating he would overhaul the Recall and Initiative Act to make it more workable. He also committed himself to the concepts of direct democracy, transparency, and greater accountability to voters. In fact, he said repeatedly that his government would be the most transparent and accountable in the history of BC,” said Vander Zalm.
“Many people do not believe him anymore. They think he deliberately deceived people just to get their votes, since he never followed up on any of those promises.”
Vander Zalm points out that the premier’s recent comments regarding the HST petition have sent conflicting signals.
“He has admitted he now knows that British Columbians oppose his tax. He has agreed to allow the process to go forward, and to abide by the Initiative Act. This gives the impression that he’s going to listen to the people. But he recently told his friends in big business he will deliver on his promise to transfer the entire sales tax burden from them to consumers. He can’t have it both ways.”
Vander Zalm says such promises to business beg the question, “Who does the premier answer to? The three million registered voters of BC, or a handful of wealthy businessmen who finance his Liberal party?”
“The Fight HST petition, with over 600,000 signatures from all 85 ridings, is Premier Campbell’s chance to show the people he wasn’t lying. It’s his chance to show he really does believe in democratic accountability and listening to voters. He can do that by cancelling the HST now, or at least allowing his MLAs a free vote,” Vander Zalm concluded.