NEWS RELEASE · 27th July 2011
News that the Liberal government handed over untendered contracts to friends and insiders to work on the HST information office is proof that the government's campaign was always intended to sell the tax to British Columbians, say New Democrats.
"The Liberals have spent millions of taxpayers' dollars trying to salvage the HST and tilt the referendum result in their favour," said Bruce Ralston, New Democrat finance critic.
"They claimed it was just an information campaign, but it is clear it has been a sales job from the beginning to convince people to keep the tax so Premier Christy Clark can preserve Gordon Campbell's HST legacy."
Ralston noted that the Liberals hired insider Tom Syer, a former deputy chief of staff to Gordon Campbell responsible for "issues management" for the Liberals, to run their HST information office at a cost of $190,000.
Documents released through Freedom of Information this week show that many other Liberal friends and insiders were also contracted to sell the hated tax to the public. Other documents revealed through FOI also show Syer was involved in the cabinet submission resulting in the decision to hold the vote by mail-in ballot instead of an election-style vote as Premier Christy Clark promised.
"I have major concerns about seeing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars flowing directly to Liberal party-connected firms without ever seeing the light of day," said Ralston.
"The Liberals are hinging their re-election plan on getting the HST passed by the public in the referendum; perhaps the party should be picking up the $7 million tab for their spin campaign instead of taxpayers."
Ralston urged British Columbians who have not yet mailed back their HST ballots to do so by this week, as it could take several days to reach Elections B.C. by the Aug. 5 deadline. He stressed ballots must be received – not just postmarked – by Aug. 5 to be counted.