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NEWS RELEASE · 8th April 2011
Fight HST
New July 22 deadline for HST Referendum vote will hurt new home construction, tourism, restaurants as consumers wait to kill the tax before making purchases

Former BC premier and Fight HST Leader Bill Vander Zalm says the decision by Premier Christy Clark to delay the HST Referendum vote by another month to July 22 will do severe additional damage to the already struggling economy of BC.

Vander Zalm says industries such as new home construction, vacation property sales, tourism, restaurants home repairs and renovations that all make their biggest revenues in the summer months will be hard hit by the decision as consumers delay purchases until after they vote to kill the tax in late July.

“What is the point in delaying this any longer? What possible rationale can there be for hurting the economy even more?” asked Vander Zalm. “British Columbians want to put an end to the $2 billion a year transfer of taxes onto the backs of consumers to benefit big business,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm says delaying the Referendum may also mean thousands of people will not get a chance to vote, since they could be away on vacation and will miss the deadline, or lose their ballots altogether.

“And the results of the vote will not be known until late August or early September which will severely impact summer sales to many businesses. This is a very bad decision. Everyone deserves a chance to vote, and business deserves certainty. Unemployment is up in BC, many businesses like restaurants are hurting or closing, and everywhere the economy is struggling to get out of recession. And Christy Clark’s answer is to delay it even more? It’s crazy.”

Vander Zalm says rumours abound that the Referendum is being moved to later in the summer to give Premier Clark time to run in a by-election in the Vancouver -Point Grey riding vacated by former premier Gordon Campbell in March.

“I hope Premier Clark would not put her own political interests ahead of the economy of BC,” said Vander Zalm. “That would be a terrible reason for this delay.”

Vander Zalm says his group has yet to hear from the government on what the rules or funding for the Referendum will be. “Having people vote between June 13 and July 22 is an awfully long time period. The government needs to commit to not opening any ballots until the final deadline and all are delivered. And Elections BC must allow scrutineers from both sides to ensure the vote is legitimate.”

Vander Zalm says his Fight HST group is already mobilizing its strategy to counter the arguments it expects from both the government and big business, and has issued a comprehensive report on the damaging effects of the HST that will be circulated throughout BC during the referendum period.

“We know the facts are on our side. We know the people are going to vote ‘yes’ to extinguish the tax. It’s time to get on with the vote. Delaying it to July 22 helps no one, except maybe the Premier’s agenda,” concluded Vander Zalm.