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COMMENTARY · 12th May 2011
Walter McFarlane
This editorial was written shortly after writing about the teleconference reported here. We recommend reading the prior article before hand or having it handy to reference points made in this editorial.

It is not often where I find myself leaving in the middle of a meeting. In fact, it’s even rarer for me to storm out in the middle of a meeting which is taking place in my own home.

On Wednesday, May 5th, I received a call from the BC Provincial Government, taking a page, and the credit, from our Member of Parliament, Nathan Cullen, for implementing a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on the subject of the HST. There were three calls in total, the one I was called in to was hosted by Pat Bell.

And boy what a call it was...

The HST is a tax shift from the business to the individual. The intent was to make BC look like a better place for business, get more money into the Province and do so, not intentionally by shifting the tax from the businesses onto the individual, but by shifting the tax from the business onto the individual.

There are two words to describe this:


The good news is, our government has decided to listen to what the people have to say. The bad news is: they are doing this by holding a referendum and ignoring petitions, the angry constituents and the fact the leader who implemented the HST resigned from his position because of it.

Money is going to be an issue if this is voted down but goodness knows how much money the government is going to spend to try and keep it. After all, they could have simply listened to the people in the first place, realized it was a bad idea and only have the cost of reinstating the old tax, the 1.6 billion dollar bribe which went into the provincial coffers to encourage the government to change the tax and their dignity at admitting they made a mistake.

Speaking of the 1.6 billion dollar bribe, someone should ask the Federal Government if the Province actually has to pay back the money if the people vote NO to the HST. Bell himself did not seem certain during the meeting and it would make sense to do so before threatening the people of BC with further cuts to services, higher taxes or running a deficit.

But this is the theme of the world we live in. Live in the moment and leave nothing for the future. Why else would our government be making such piss poor investments in industries which are shipping our undeveloped resources over seas and focusing on altering the structure of the health care system and closing schools.

The latter of these two gets to me. People say such foolish things like: “Our children are our future” and “the most important resource are our children.” children are not our most valuable resource. If they were, our government would be investing in them rather then closing down the number of educational facilities they have. Heck, if they were our most valuable resouce, they’d find a way to export the children to other countries in exchange for profit and jobs.

Of course, Bell waved jobs in our face. If the government promises us anything, it has to include the word: 'Jobs' just to get people's hopes up in these tough times. People launch themselves at the short term promise of jobs, the latest drug craze in the hopes the false god we call the economy will be generous to their families and improve their status. That’s all the word job has become, another drug. Another addiction for people on low incomes to get hooked on so they make foolish short term decisions for their children's futures.

Is the tax good for business? Perhaps. Businesses will be able to hold onto more money and might just pass those savings onto the consumer rather then do what West Fraser did in Kitimat which is take the money and run.

But then again, this tax might not be good for businesses. Somewhere in BC, there will businesses which will be making 1.3 billion dollars less because 1.3 billion dollars of consumer money has been magically converted into tax. Sure taxes amount to spare change but spare change adds up.

Is the HST good for people? Individuals are expected to pay an additional 1.3 billion dollars annually. Spare change adds up. To compensate low income families, each family member is given a cheque for $230. What was the purpose of taxes again?

However, the referendum itself is the real joke of the evening. Force something upon the people of BC and then hold a referendum to get rid of it. It must be nice to call the concept of moving backwards, going forward. The government should be asking the people of BC if they should implement the HST rather then the opposite and keep the referendum rules the same where 51% of the registered voters of the Province vote rather then changing them to 51% of the people who show up.

The mail in ballots are a bad idea. While I trust the people of Elections BC to count them and the BC Postal Workers handling them with care, what is to stop a ballot from getting lost in the mail or being damaged to the point of being spoilt? To what extent can a mail in ballot be spoilt? Is it possible to receive a notice from Elections BC indicating they received your unspoilt vote while not invading your privacy?

Finally, and I honestly hope this was a slip of the tongue of the former Forest Minister, the last time I heard the BC Budget was measured in BILLIONS of dollars, not MILLIONS of Dollars. 42 Million dollars seems a little small for a Provincial Budget. I would hate to think the reason for the deficit is because someone in Victoria forgot to carry three zeros.

In conclusion, the BC Liberals should turn over a new leaf and listen to the people of the province. Forget the referendum, reinstate the old system and try and give the 1.6 billion dollar bribe back to the Federal government, if they will take it.
Good one Walter.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 13th May 2011
When you need to spend $6,000,000 to convince the voters that something is good for them, it is an admission of colossal stupidity.