NEWS RELEASE · 30th September 2010
Former BC premier and Fight HST Leader Bill Vander Zalm says he has been informed by reliable sources that BC Premier Gordon Campbell will announce a cut to the HST rate in his speech to the UBCM Convention scheduled for this Friday at 11:00am in Whistler.
“If that’s true this will be our second victory, though still partial, in as many weeks,” said Vander Zalm, referring to the premier’s recent claim that he will hold a binding, simple majority referendum to repeal the HST.
Vander Zalm says his sources confirm that the premier will announce the date of the Referendum will be moved up as well. “That’s good too. But we’ll have to see exactly when that will be, whether it will be a fair and neutral question, and under what BC law he will conduct the referendum. Right now, he’s making up policy on the fly, day by day, so things could still change dramatically.”
But Vander Zalm says that British Columbians who want the HST extinguished should be cautious, since all of the recent decisions by Premier Campbell fly in the face of his previous assertions that the tax could not be changed, creating a massive credibility gap.
“700,000 people signed the petition to repeal the tax, not reduce it. Many signed the petition because they believed the government had no mandate to introduce it because they lied during the election about not bringing it in, and about not even having it on their radar before the election. Nothing the premier is doing changes any of that, and if British Columbians stand fast, they will eventually force the government to get rid of the tax altogether.”
Vander Zalm says the premier keeps changing his story.
“First, he told us the HST was a federal tax that was out of his control. The BC Supreme Court said that wasn’t true and ordered the petition sent to the Legislative Committee as a ‘matter for the provincial Legislature’.”
“Then Campbell said we were stuck with it for 5 years. Now he says he’ll have a referendum and will cancel it immediately if a simple majority of British Columbians vote to do that.”
“Next he said that the rate, which was set at 12% with the provincial portion at 7%, was locked for two years and couldn’t be changed. Now our sources tell us he is prepared to change it unilaterally, with another change after the referendum.”
Vander Zalm says he wonders whether the second cut will materialize at all. “It sounds like he will use that as a bribe to get support for the whole tax in the referendum. It’s just another ‘trust me’ promise by a premier not known for keeping his word on almost anything anymore.”
“The question is – will he honour that promise after a referendum? Better still, how do we know he won’t simply raise it right back up again after the next election, or even tax it all back with income tax increases or service fee increases?” Vander Zalm asked.
“This is a sign of desperation by the premier as his government self destructs before everyone’s very eyes and he scrambles to save it with policy-on-the-fly decision making. The good news is that by holding firm to their position that the HST must be repealed, the people of British Columbia are winning the fight.”
Vander Zalm said it’s important to also remember that a major problem with the HST has always been the handing over of provincial taxation authority to Ottawa. “Tinkering with the tax does not address the issue of giving away BC’s sovereignty forever.”
Vander Zalm appealed to British Columbians to hold the line in their battle to end the HST and restore democratic accountability to government, by quoting General Montgomery on the eve of the allied victory during the Second World War, “Every soldier must know, before he goes into battle, how the little battle he is fighting fits into the larger picture, and how the success of his fighting will influence the battle for final victory.”
“The people of BC are on the verge of an historic victory for democracy,” concluded Vander Zalm.