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NEWS RELEASE · 15th September 2010
Chris Delaney
Fight HST to begin Recalls as soon as possible after November 15.

Fight HST Leader Bill Vander Zalm says BC Premier Gordon Campbell is once again playing fast and loose with the truth regarding his promise to hold a “binding, simple majority” referendum on the HST.
“He’s been telling everyone he will make the referendum to scrap the HST truly democratic by allowing a simple majority of votes cast, and that it will be binding on his government. But he refuses to conduct the vote under the ‘Referendum Act’ rather than the ‘Initiative Act’. That means British Columbians will have to take him at his word, and that is not very reassuring given his track record so far,” said former premier Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm explained, “The Initiative Act says the vote will be non binding, and that it requires 50% of all voters in the province to pass it, plus 50% in 2/3 of all constituencies. Those are impossible thresholds, and completely undemocratic. The premier admitted that by saying he will not require the vote to achieve those thresholds. But thenhe turns around and says he won’t change the legislation - we’ll just have to trust him.”

Vander Zalm says making the referendum binding and changing the required threshold is not a decision one person can make, even a premier. “Only the legislature can overrule existing legislation. This is a totally bogus promise designed to con and intimidate British Columbians into accepting the tax. We will not be bullied by this premier,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm reminded British Columbians that Premier Campbell said, “We won’t sell BC Rail” before the 2001 election - and then sold it. Who said before first being elected, “The deficit is a mortgage on our children’s future” - and then doubled it while in office. Who said, “The Olympics won’t cost a penny more than we budgeted” – and then ran up massive cost overruns that are still being calculated. Who said, “The deficit is a maximum $495 million” before the 2009 election – and then announced it was $2.8 billion after the election. Who said, “The HST is not on our radar” before the 2009 election – and then imposed it afterwards.

Vander Zalm says the problem with “trusting” Gordon Campbell besides the fact most British Columbians don’t, is that he may not even be the premier by the time the vote is undertaken. “Then what? Is a new leader bound by his promise?”

Vander Zalm pointed out that Finance Minister Colin Hansen also said on Tuesday that he supports a referendum, but that it will not include all parts of the draft legislation attached to the successful petition.

“Again, this is totally unethical if not illegal. The finance minister and the premier cannot unilaterally remove the parts of the petition Bill they don’t want. They are lawless and totally out of control. I can’t believe the audacity of these people. They are destroying what little democracy we have, and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks.”

Vander Zalm says Sections 13 and 16 of the Initiative Act are clear:
Initiative vote

13 (1) If the select standing committee refers the initiative petition and draft Bill to the chief electoral officer, the chief electoral officer must hold an initiative vote under this Act.Effect of successful initiative vote

16 If the chief electoral officer declares an initiative vote to be successful, the government must do one of the following:

(a) introduce the Bill at the earliest practicable opportunity;

(b) if the Bill is for the appropriation of any part of the consolidated revenue fund or of any tax or impost,

(i) request the Lieutenant Governor to recommend the Bill by a message in accordance with sections 46 and 47 of the Constitution Act to the Legislative Assembly, and

(ii) introduce the Bill at the earliest practicable opportunity.

“The Standing Committee submitted the petition and draft Bill – the HST Extinguishment Act – to a province-wide citizen’s vote. The government cannot, during that part of the process, remove sections of the Bill. So if British Columbians vote in favour of the draft Bill to extinguish the HST and it is 'binding' on the government as the premier says, then the government is stuck with it. The fact Hansen is already saying they won’t abide by their own rules tells you this whole thing is a con,” said Vander Zalm.

“If the government wanted to make amendments to the Bill, they could have submitted it to the legislature for a vote there. But they chose the Initiative Vote route, and now don’t want to abide by it. They are not only dishonest, they are hypocrites too.”

Vander Zalm asked whether the NDP, who voted in favour of sending the petition and draft Bill to an Initiative Vote, also support the premier unilaterally removing sections of the draft Bill. “Are they in favour of this too? We thought the NDP were against the HST, but we are becoming very concerned in light of some of their recent actions.”

Vander Zalm says he will release a Strategy Paper on Recalls next week that will outline Fight HST’s plans to begin removing MLAs from office as soon as legally possible.

“We will move to Recalls now. It is the only vehicle we have left to hold this arrogant bunch to account. The people of BC are being manipulated, trampled on, and deceived every step of the way. We must fight back or risk losing our democracy entirely,” concluded Vander Zalm.