NEWS RELEASE · 24th July 2010
One year ago today, the B.C. Liberal government doublecrossed British Columbians and announced the HST, which shifts $1.9 billion in taxes from big business onto consumers, say the New Democrats.
“Over the years, the B.C. Liberals have betrayed the people of British Columbia on a lot of things: the sale of B.C. Rail after they promised not to, a massive expansion of gaming while slashing support for gambling addiction, and a budget deficit nearly four times what they promised, just to name a few. But the HST doublecross takes the cake,” said Bruce Ralston, New Democrat finance critic.
Ralston noted that voters are not only angry about having to pay the tax itself, but they are angry that the B.C. Liberals said they would not implement the HST and then, after the election, announced the hurtful tax shift.
“People are angry, and they have every right to be. To make matters worse, after more than 700,000 people signed the initiative petition urging the government to scrap the tax, the B.C. Liberals are now spending untold millions of public dollars on a propaganda campaign that claims they’re right and the public is wrong,” said Ralston.
“The betrayal was bad enough. To waste money now trying to save their own political hides just makes it worse, particularly at a time when schools are closing, waitlists are growing, and we’re trying to create jobs as the economy struggles to recover.”
After telling British Columbians they had no plans to impose a Harmonized Sales Tax, the B.C. Liberal government turned around after the election and announced a new sales tax that will cost consumers billions of dollars.
Jan. 23, 2009: Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty publicly confirms he is considering moving to the HST.
March 10, 2009: The Ontario government signs a memorandum of understanding to implement the HST.
May, 2009: The B.C. Liberals state in two separate election surveys that they “have no plans to formally engage the federal government in discussions about potential harmonization”, noting that doing so “would extend the PST tax base to a broader range of goods and services that are presently exempt from provincial sales tax” which would be “a major concern.”
May 15, 2009: Three days after the election, Ministry of Finance officials contact the federal government inquiring about the harmonization of the sales tax.
May 24, 2009: Hansen has “water cooler chat” with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty inquiring about an HST for B.C.
July 23, 2009: Campbell and Hansen catch consumers and industry by surprise by suddenly announcing the HST.
March 30, 2010: The B.C. Liberals introduce HST legislation. In a feeble attempt to obscure what the legislation is about, they name it the Consumption Tax Rebate and Transition Act. Over the coming weeks, all 35 New Democrat MLAs stand up in the legislature and speak out in opposition to the HST-enabling legislation.
April 6, 2010: Citizens’ initiative petition officially launched.
April 29, 2010: Not wanting to hear any more opposition to the HST, the B.C. Liberal government shuts down debate on the HST-enabling legislation, and forces it through. New Democrat MLAs vote against the HST, while all B.C. Liberals present vote in favour of the legislation. Premier Gordon Campbell is absent.
June 11, 2010: After voting in favour of the HST a few weeks earlier, B.C. Liberal Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Blair Lekstrom resigns from cabinet and the B.C. Liberal caucus saying, “I believe it would be prudent to bring the move toward the HST to a halt.”
June 30, 2010: Citizens’ initiative petition delivered to Elections BC.
July 1, 2010: The HST is implemented. According to Statistics Canada, the average B.C. household will now pay $521 more each year.
Aug. 11, 2010: Deadline for Elections B.C. to determine whether citizens’ initiative is successful.
Aug. 16, 2010: HST court challenges to be heard.