NEWS RELEASE · 23rd August 2010
Vander Zalm: "The time for delays is over. The government must act now to ensure the democratic will of the people is respected."
Fight HST Leader and former BC premier, Bill Vander Zalm, has sent a letter urging Premier Gordon Campbell to agree to accept the Initiative petition to end the HST for a vote in the legislature this fall.
Vander Zalm says the court ruling on Friday paves the way for the legislature to vote on the draft Bill now, and the time for delays is over. “We have asked the premier to indicate to the Standing Committee that he is willing to receive the draft Bill to extinguish the HST in a fall sitting of the legislature. We have told the premier that a costly and undemocratic, non-binding “Initiative Vote” is a waste of time and money, since even if it passes, the Bill will only come right back to the legislature for a vote anyway.”
Vander Zalm says the threshold for an Initiative Vote is 50% of all registered voters, instead of a majority of votes cast, meaning that twice as many people who voted for the BC Liberal government are required to defeat a policy implemented by that government.
“That is totally undemocratic and an exercise in futility. It is contrary to Canadian democratic tradition which has always relied on a majority of votes cast, not a pre-determined number of people showing up to vote,” said Vander Zalm.
“It is also a colossal waste of money. It is estimated to cost $30-$50 million to conduct such a non-binding vote. During a time of economic hardship for so many, and massive deficits by the government, that is money that could be better spent on health care or education or other services.”
Vander Zalm says he has told the premier that if a vote is not conducted this fall, it will be seen by British Columbians as just another delaying tactic by the government. “We won’t let them derail this process again. Their big business partners tried it last week in the courts and failed. The judge was very clear – this is a matter for the legislature. Failure to deal with it fairly and expeditiously will result in Recall campaigns against BC Liberal MLAs starting in November.”
Vander Zalm says that the only acceptable vote in the legislature is one that will defeat the tax and obey the will of an overwhelming majority of British Columbians as evidenced in the dozens of opinion polls taken on the matter, as well as the hugely successful Initiative petition.
“The people have spoken. The Supreme Court has spoken. It is time now for the government to get rid of the HST or bear the consequences of an outraged public,” Vander Zalm concluded.