Although there has been no update issued and neither has elections BC updated their website concerning the referendum on the HST, others are already changing their plans in advance of the expected vote.
The BC First Party had scheduled their first Annual General meeting for April 9th in Kamloops BC. According to their website, due to the news release issued by the BC Government suggesting they “might” hold the HST referendum on June 24, the BC First Party have cancelled their inaugural AGM and set it for September 25. The Party has also suggested the Federal election called for May 2 has had an impact on this change of plans.
On March 25, 2011, the BC Government released the following along with quotes for the media to use if they wished; British Columbians will have an earlier vote on the HST than previously scheduled and it will be conducted under the authority of the Referendum Act, Attorney General Barry Penner announced on March 25. The Referendum Act ensures a simple majority vote will determine the outcome of the referendum. Further details on the referendum will be finalized by an order-in-council, but the government is working toward a date of June 24.
The vote will include the following:
* Referendum question - No change. The referendum question will be exactly the same as drafted by the acting chief electoral officer:
"Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)? Yes/No."
* Voting process - Mail-in ballot.
Moving to a mail-in ballot is expected to save taxpayers $18 million and address potential voter fatigue. It will be undertaken by Elections BC in a neutral fashion.
The Province will also provide funding to ensure proponents and opponents are able to participate in the public dialogue about the HST in a fair and transparent manner. Further details on the funding will be provided as they become available.
Note that none of this is fixed as there has been no announcement of an "Order In Council" being signed with these details by the Premier, Christy Clark. It is all still tentative.
BC First is a brand new political party for BC. Many have been expressing an interest in their non-attachment to the political machines of the former; BC Socred and Conservative Party and the current NDP and Liberal Parties. Much like the Saskatchewan Party and the Wild Rose Party of Alberta these new Parties appear to be popular movements as the public becomes tired and weary of the same old, same old.
The change/postponement of the inaugural AGM leaves many impatient for the change.
The BC First website can be found HERE.