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COMMENTARY · 14th June 2011
MLA Gary Coons
Last year something amazing happened. For the first time in our province's history, an Initiative Petition was successful as more than 700,000 British Columbians showed their determination to stop the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). On the North and Coast, many thousands of people signed the petition, and I was one of the many volunteer canvassers who worked on that effort.

From the first days of the BC Liberals' announcement that they were breaking their promise not to implement a HST, my office has been flooded with calls and emails from constituents who are absolutely opposed to this tax.

As you know, you will shortly be receiving a referendum ballot in the mail asking you whether or not you are in favour of extinguishing the HST. I believe the majority of British Columbians will vote 'Yes.'

There has been a great deal of talk about 'fixing' the HST. Premier Christy Clark and her government have made the decision to stake their political futures on whether or not the people of British Columbia will be fooled by her promises of rebates and rate reductions. They, along with many big companies and corporations, are spending millions of dollars to convince you that the HST will be good for you….don’t be fooled.

These promised 'fixes' do not deal with the fact that the HST was brought in under false pretences. The BC Liberals campaigned on their promise that they would not implement an HST. They broke that promise.

Now they are promising a rebate and rate reduction, but in order to partially fund these new promises, they've had to break previous promises of tax cuts. This is a government that clearly cannot be trusted.

And it is also a government that is not capable of managing the books. If the government were to proceed with these rebates and rate cuts, we would see a massive hole in the provincial government. Arguments that we can't cancel the HST because we can't afford to give back the $1.6 billion to the federal government become moot if the cost of 'fixes' are so much greater.

The HST, both the current version and proposed version, still constitutes a massive shift of taxation away from large corporations and on to the backs of average residents. And it no longer allows British Columbians to make tax policy for themselves.

As we prepare to vote in the HST referendum, we need to remember how we came to be in this place. It is only because of the strong voice of regular British Columbians showing their opposition to the HST that we are getting this opportunity to make this decision.

I will be honouring the fight and determination of so many British Columbians, and I will be voting 'Yes' to scrap the HST.
Double edged sword
Comment by Dave on 19th June 2011
If the HST is defeated the Liberals will assume they don't have public support and NOT call an election.
If the the HST is kept they'll think they have public support and call an election.
I don't know how to vote - I want rid of the HST and I want rid of the Liberals so what do I do?
"Crazy optimism"
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 15th June 2011
I guess crazy optimism is the new euphemism for gullibility. I thought "if they have more cash, they spend more cash" applied to consumers because companies are always trying to get people to spend. Apparently the rule only applies to business because the wealth trickles down. It does, does it? Maybe crazy optimism is just another word for being foolish because trickle down economics is one of the myths peddled by the corporate sector for decades. We have had PST in place for decades and the GST on some goods since Mulroney. Suddenly these are too difficult for business to work with and, to make it easier for them the consumer picks up the shifting tax burden. More items are now taxable as well. The pro HST line is a self-serving mantra of the Chamber of Commerce.
Crazy optimism? Naaah, but there is another word that comes to mind.
Vote YES to rescind the HST
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 14th June 2011
Almost $2 billion?! Try $1.125 billion that B.C. has received to date for converting to the HST. The final installment of $475 million isn't due until July 2nd. I would gladly have this money paid back to the federal government in order to get rid of the HST.

Supporters of the HST mimic Liberal friendly economists saying that it will create jobs, make businesses more competitive, and put more money in the pockets of our corporations. Isn't that what reducing the federal corporate tax rate from 28% in 2000 to the 15% that it will be in January of 2012 was supposed to do? Or, lowering the provincial corporation tax rate from 16.5% in 1993 to 10% in 2010 should have done? Should individuals have to keep pay for all the resultant shortfalls in tax revenue?

Are we going to continue to be suckered in by shouldering more and more of the tax burden while big business continues to reap the benefits handed to them by our elected officials? How many times are we going to fall for their false promises that more jobs will be created, that businesses will pass on the savings, that industry will flock to the province, that taxes will go down and so on if we just trust them?

I have voted YES to rescind the HST because I am convinced that the tax shift is absolutely unfair to individuals and will not result in any significant benefits to the economy - if lowering business taxes haven't done it what makes us think that keeping the HST will do it?

You have got to be kidding!
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 14th June 2011
This is a choice to vote “yes” to get rid of the HST and get rid of a $2 billion in taxes per year shifted onto the backs of ordinary BC citizens through higher “consumer taxes” OR provide easier book keeping for businesses. All these businesses have not heard of computers so their book keeping is really tough even though it has been going on for many, many years. Do these guys really think they are smarter than everyone else?

"This particular tax takes the tax off business, it takes $1.8 billion off businesses and puts it on consumers, and so that shift is a shift that is ideological as well as factual." -- Former BC Liberal finance minister Carole Taylor on the HST.

The PST was not charged on hundreds of goods and services now being taxed. Now the Government is spending $5 million of your money to convince you to vote “no”. They even promise to reduce the tax to 10% if you vote “no” as though a promise from them is worth something. Why does the truth need that kind of expensive promotion? We know propaganda does!

Why all this desperation to save the HST. Well, if the HST is axed, the government may (repeat may) have to repay that windfall they got from the feds. Then they will simply have to add to the accounts more debt which they were expecting before the HST was introduced. It was the plan all along. Why should I or anyone else be concerned that the government books actually record their fiscal mismanagement. How can the truth hurt the people any more than the lies that have been told them? Vote “yes” and strike a blow for integrity.

Now Bryan is voting "no" because he doesn't like Bill Van der Zalm. You see there are apparently no unsavory characters voting "no". My goodness I could think of hundreds worse than Bill but Bill is the only person he listened to on the "yes" side.

BC has not even collected the money from the feds and even if we have to pay it back, it is cheaper than the $2 billion in consumer taxes which ordinary folks will have to pay in HST. You think folks will buy that logic. The BC Government is banking on this windfall to make themselves look like good financial stewards and we pay the price price for that. Get real!.

yes Helmut...
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 14th June 2011
go back further... pre-liberal (of which I am not) ask 10 small business people... those 10 small business people (economy drivers) will tell you that BC was a really crappy place to try to do business... the HST makes BC an inviting place to do business... the crux of my post... businesses drive our economy... if they have more cash, they spend more cash... generally on stuff in the town they are doing business... that puts more cash on the hands of more businesses, which puts more cash in the hands of employees, which puts more cash in the hands of businesses... I, for one, like the way that circle works...

yes, the gov't lied... show me one that doesn't and I'll eat my hat... all I know is, my customers and friends of mine that own businesses need the HST to survive... if that means I have to pay a little more at a restaurant every now and then, so be it... if it means I have to pay a little more for my realtor to sell my house, so be it... it means that employers are better off...

we'll never agree on anything... that's cool... I don't mind... but look past the politics, look to what CAN happen not what HAS happened... what happens when those of us who can afford to pay a little more put more into the coffers and more services come our way? Everyone benefits...

there goes that crazy optimism of mine again...

voting no
Comment by Bryan N on 14th June 2011
Right or wrong, I am voting no. I heard Bill VanDerZalm on the radio again today, on an anti HST ad, and I don't think he is being anywhere near honest. By listening to the ad, a person could think that by some act of magic we will end up not paying any tax. Yes, HST is on different items, but it is currently 12% just as the PST/GST was. Ontario and the Maritimes have the HST, Quebec seems to be heading that way, are all those provinces wrong? Where is the money going to come from to pay back the Feds? I'm pretty sure they will want their nearly 2billion back.

Sorry to say this, but I think VanDerZalm just loves hearing his voice on the radio. We couldn't get rid of him fast enough before, and he is our saviour now??
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 14th June 2011
"we'll go back to making BC a very un-inviting place to do business in two seconds flat." You mean before the HST was introduced and all those years (almost 9) of Liberals BC was an uninviting place? Now I got to pay their taxes and it gets better?
Yes, no, maybe, none of the above...
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 14th June 2011
Voting to scrap the HST is quite possibly the worst thing we can do to our still fragile, but rebounding, economy... ask 10 small business people what they think about it... 10 small business people will tell you they like it, if not love it... it is 100% write-off-able on their purchases where only the GST was in the past... these are businesses that hire new people and reward veteran employees when they're making/retaining more money... those people spend more because they have secure jobs... a quote from a business man I talked to yesterday... "before, i spent 150,000 and threw 10,500 right out the window (pst) now I can use the write off (HST) to keep my business going"...

having said that, there are tweeks that have to be made... lowering it is one, and taking it off of things like bikes and realtors' fees and those other things that VanderZalm's radio ad states are a good start...

to quash the HST & return to the old ways is going to do way more harm than we could possibly imagine... we'll go back to making BC a very un-inviting place to do business in two seconds flat... when that happens, businesses leave and/or don't bother coming in the first place... when that happens, we all are affected... from gas jockeys to teachers...

Keep the HST.
Interesting but vote "yes".
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 14th June 2011
Since all politicians lie, we must sanction a lie by voting "no". You really need to give some proof that ALL of them lie outright. Politicians my accentuate the positives and avoid the negatives but that is not the same as telling you one thing and doing exactly the opposite. In the first instance the intelligent person has the opportunity to do some research because the negatives will be written down somewhere.

The 10% adjustment does not apply till 2014 and by then the circumstances will change and you will hear another excuse. If the HST is approved the government can ignore any promise they made to reduce the HST. You just told them lying was O.K..

Also no one except some businesses come ahead on the HST. It is a shift in the tax burden from business to consumers and even the poor folks who will get a rebate will end up paying more. The Independent Panel said so.

Now I am suppose to have confidence in what the right-wing Canadian Taxpayers Federation has to say on the subject. Sorry but I will pass. Just because it is easier to get your head around one tax rather than two is plain silly. I paid PST on a lot of items. I paid GST on fewer. Now I pay HST on a lot more items and that portion of the HST which is GST is not subject to business competition. I pay it all and business gets a break.

I think I understand clearly. I"m voting "yes" to force the government to go back and if they want more of my money to go to the poor and to business, let them debate it openly and honestly in the legislature. I might agree with a shift to the poor but business does not need my charity. No backroom decisions.

Finally it is outrageous that anyone would let any government lie and then say it is O.K.. I wouldn't let an NDP government get away with that either.
10% ?
Comment by Cory on 14th June 2011
It's 12% not 10%.The Liberals lied about bringing in the HST and I doubt that they will lower it.Oh wait a minute;Campbell said he'll drop my taxes by .... oh yeah that was a lie too.
Why I am voting "NO"
Comment by Lori on 14th June 2011
I was one of those signatures on the petition Mr. Coons, but after learning more about the issue, I am now one of those people who will be voting "NO" because I do not believe reinstating the PST is the best move for this province. While I don't agree with how it was instituted, I still believe HST at 10% is better than reverting back to the archaic PST. Here's a link to the Candian Taxpayers Federation website that explains it better than I can.
Why I am voting "NO" to scrap the HST
Comment by Rudi Peters on 14th June 2011
Let us remove the "honesty" question right from the start; all politicians will say whatever it takes to get themselves elected and then do whatever is in their best interest and not in the best interest of the people.

The HST however is the best option out of many bad options. One tax, one set of papers to file, makes my life easier. Before we had two taxes, on often the second tax would be taxing the first tax, two sets of papers to file, a pain in the rear.

At the end of the day my family will be further ahead with the HST, and yes I did the actual calculations and did not rely on some government to tell me how much I would save, and that is why I want to see it stay as is.