NEWS RELEASE · 14th July 2011
Vander Zalm says organized campaign trying to subvert democratic vote
Fight HST has called in the police to investigate the professional alteration of its campaign signs on Vancouver Island and filed new police reports over more sign thefts in Vancouver.
Bill Vander Zalm, former BC Premier and Fight HST leader, says the incidents in several locations against the grassroots campaign to extinguish the Harmonized Sales Tax with a YES vote in the provincial binding referendum are deeply disturbing.
“There is clearly an organized effort to subvert the democratic vote on the HST through criminal means,” Vander Zalm said. “The extent to which these people are going is astonishing.”
Vander Zalm said RCMP have been asked to investigate how a number of Fight HST campaign signs were professionally altered to change the message from “Vote YES” to “Vote NO” and from “Extinguish the HST” to “Extinguish the PST” [Provincial Sales Tax] with sophisticated vinyl patches printed in the same colours, size and typeface as the original Fight HST signs.
The altered signs were discovered this week by Fight HST volunteers in Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Campbell River.
“I have never, ever seen anything like this – there is no question that this has been done professionally and in a very organized manner,” Vander Zalm said. “Whoever did this is spending an enormous amount of time and money to sabotage our volunteer campaign.”
Fight HST has also filed a new report of sign thefts with the Vancouver Police Department after dozens of signs were stolen in the Vancouver-Fraserview riding for the second time in less than a month, says Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman.
“More than 40 signs on Fraser Street vanished just 3 weeks after over 100 signs were stolen in the same general location – obviously this is also an organized effort to attack our campaign,” Tieleman said. “The residents in this area have been overwhelmingly supportive of the Fight HST message and in the dead of night their signs have been stolen.”
Vander Zalm said the campaign against Fight HST’s efforts to extinguish the HST is the dirtiest and most unfair he has ever seen.
“First we have the big business Smart Tax Alliance spending an undisclosed amount of money that we believe is in excess of $15 million and the BC government spending $5 to $10 million taxpayer dollars as well – with misleading advertising about the HST,” he said.
“And now we have organized professional criminal activity to try and stop us,” Vander Zalm said, while making clear that Fight HST does not believe either the Smart Tax Alliance or government are involved in the sign thefts or alterations.
“We hope that British Columbians will reject this massive attempt at manipulation and use their vote to extinguish the HST,” he said. “It’s critically important that everyone who opposes the HST exercise their rights by voting YES to get rid of the HST.”
Earlier this week Fight HST asked Ombudsperson Kim Carter to launch an immediate investigation into BC government advertising that falsely claims voting “NO” in the HST binding referendum will result in a 10% HST tax rate.
A complaint filed by Vander Zalm states that government advertising is deliberately misleading because it does not indicate whatsoever that the “10%” rate would not take effect for three years and is entirely dependent on the current government being re-elected and keeping its promises far into the future without regard for potential changes in BC’s economy or finances.
Comment by James Ippel on 20th July 2011
Who accused the people on the right of defacing these signs? I don't recall anyone accusing anyone of this.
Is it possible that someone on the left did the damage in order to get attention, and suggest that those on the right perpetrated this heinous crime?
Pointing fingers isn'nt going to help the process.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 14th July 2011
What started as a straight and pure democratic exercise has become an example of a government's desperate attempt to manipulate the outcome. We now have the folks on the right, who always talk about democracy, denigrate anything to their left as socialist manipulating the exercise any way they can.
I guess democracy is grand as long as it goes your way.