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CONTRIBUTION · 13th August 2010
Chris Delaney
Vander Zalm: “If the Chief Electoral Officer won’t do his job, we will do it for him.”

Fight HST leader and Initiative proponent Bill Vander Zalm says that given Elections BC’s refusal to follow clear legislation outlining its responsibilities, his group has decided to submit the successful Initiative petition and draft Bill to End the HST directly to the Select Standing Committee for Legislative Initiatives so that the process can continue.

Vander Zalm says acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James’ refusal to forward the successful petition is against the legislation. As a result, he says he was forced to submit it to the Standing Committee himself.

“The Initiative Act is very clear. It says the CEO must send a copy of the petition and draft Bill to the Select Standing Committee. And he must do it upon his determination that the petition met the requirements of the Act. This has been done. Therefore, it is not an option on whether he may submit the petition or not,” Vander Zalm explained.

Following is Section 10 of the Act, outlining the CEO’s duties:

Referral of initiative to select standing committee

10 If the chief electoral officer determines in accordance with the regulations that

(a) the initiative petition meets the requirements of section 7, and [the 10% threshold]

(b) the proponent has complied with Part 4,[Initiative spending ]

the chief electoral officer must send a copy of the petition and draft Bill to the select standing committee.

Vander Zalm says the petition does not belong to the CEO, but to the people, and the legislature is the only body directly answerable to the people. “Therefore, we have sent a copy of the CEO’s ruling validating the petition, as well as the draft Bill – “The HST Extinguishment Act” to the head of the Select Standing Committee, Mr. Terry Lake, as well as the other members of the committee.”

Vander Zalm says there is nothing in the Initiative Act preventing a third party from submitting the petition to the Select Standing Committee, and that since the CEO will not comply with the Act, his group was morally bound to make the submission instead.

“The law requires the Select Standing Committee upon receipt of the petition to meet on or before September 12, 2010. They must then to make a determination on whether to put the draft Bill to the legislature for a vote, or to return it to the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct a non-binding, province wide “Initiative Vote.”

Duty of select standing committee

11 (1) The select standing committee must, within 30 days of receiving a copy of the initiative petition and draft Bill under section 10, meet to consider the initiative petition and draft Bill.

(2) The select standing committee must, within 90 days of the date of its first meeting,

(a) table a report recommending that the draft Bill be introduced at the earliest practicable opportunity, or

(b) refer the initiative petition and draft Bill to the chief electoral officer.

“We have lost confidence that the CEO can be relied upon to carry out his duties faithfully and impartially. For that reason, and the fact that a non-binding Initiative Vote is a waste of time and money, we are instructing the BC Government that we will accept only one option - a free vote taken immediately in the legislature, resulting in the repeal of the HST,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm pointed out that anything less than the extinguishment of the HST will result in Recalls launched against all 46 sitting members of the BC Government.

“The people have spoken, and it is time for the government to listen. We have had enough of their games and slippery maneuvers. We will not let the people be denied justice on their petition,” Vander Zalm promised.
Furthermore James
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 17th August 2010
This is a quote. I really doesn't matter from where but you can find it if you look hard enough. It is one I entirely agree with. It also doesn't matter who appointed Craig James (it was the liberal gov't not the legislature) or what impartial role he had before. This is the fact:

"The only possible grounds for a delay would be if a court injunction ordered Elections B.C. not to proceed -- but the business coalition has not even applied for one."

All Craig James had to do was pass it on according to the Act. Then the Liberals on the committee would have had to do their own dirty work and the public would hold them accountable. As it is he is covering their posteriors. A shame really. He is a nice fellow.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 17th August 2010
Craig James was Clerk of Committees when I was there. He was appointed by the government as the Acting BC Elections Officer. He has legislation to follow that says he must pass the results of a successful petition to the designated committee. He does not have a choice. No excuse is given. How long does it take to send a letter?

So he is there for a short time and then he has to go back to his old civil service job. It really makes you wonder how much influence has been brought to bear by the powers in Victoria and just how impartial he will be considered in the future.

The returning officer fulfilling his obligation under the act does not have any effect on the court case brought on by the business interests. But a delay in doing so lets a few business interest thwart the wishes of the people as determined by the legislation. The legislation was debated in the legislature; the HST was not!

Finally all those business interests have been on Campbell's gravy train for the last ten years. They are major contributors to the BC Liberal Party. Geoff Plant who is their lawyer is also a long time BC Liberal and former liberal AG. All this is in the record. So the objective is to delay any action as long as possible just like in the Basi/Virk case.

One would think that people who have benefited extensively from government policy because of, or subsequent to their donations to the party in government, might raise some eyebrows about the conflict of interest in this incestuous little relationship. Hiding behind a court action, as frivilous and transparent as it is, should outrage even the most apathetic.

If the NDP in the 90's had ever done anything like this, there would have been riots in the streets, maybe lynchings. But hey, we have to cut the BC Liberals more slack now eh?
Comment by James Ippel on 16th August 2010
I was going to make an off color comment to yours, and then thought better of it.
I won't suggest someone is "dummer than a bag of hammers, or," in your time you did'nt need to know as much."
I know big business wants the HST, and am not for one minute fooled by the Gov'ts comments that big bussiness will pass on savings to the consumer.
My question to you is this: did the acting Elections Office get this position by Gov't appointment, or because of senority in the Civil Service?????
Eagerly awaiting your reply.
More irony for James.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 13th August 2010
The organizations behind the Temporary BC Elections Officer's decision are:

Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

Council of Forest Industries

Mining Association of B.C.

Coast Forest Products Association

B.C. Chamber of Commerce

All donors to the BC Liberal Party; all get the benefit from increased taxes to the consumer: but all seem to believe that a decision by the BC government's executive council can not now be repealed by the same executive council.