The Campbell Liberals’ sudden announcement of a new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) for BC took almost everyone by surprise. With the exception of the Premier’s Office and the Liberal caucus, no one was expecting this massive shift in tax policy. During the election campaign, not a single Liberal spoke out in support of an HST. When questioned, they stated that they were opposed.
But what a difference an election makes. Less than three months after the election, an election won based on a promise not to implement an HST, the Campbell Liberals are singing the praises of the harmonized sales tax.
Opposition to this new tax has come from every segment of the population; from every corner of the province; from all manner of organizations including the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia and the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.
But I believe the greatest opposition to this tax must be based on the fact that in order to get re-elected, the Campbell Liberals hid about their real intentions.
The BC Progress Board clearly laid out for Premier Campbell, prior to the May election, the political consequences that would come from the implementation of this tax; consequences the BC Liberals were not willing to face. Instead, they claimed that HST was not in their plans, and the majority of British Columbians believed them.
This kind of duplicity in government calls into question the very legitimacy of that government.
If HST is the right thing for British Columbia, Premier Campbell had 30 days of uninterrupted opportunity to discuss this issue during the election. Then he should have let the people decide whether or not HST made sense.
Instead, we will be subjected to expensive TV and newspaper advertising campaigns, letters to the editor and Liberal MLAs flooding our email inboxes in hopes of convincing us that HST will truly be “the biggest thing we can do to improve BC’s economy” as Premier Campbell claims. Too bad they weren’t willing to talk about it prior to May 12 when British Columbians still had a choice.
Norm Macdonald is the New Democratic Party MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke. You can reach his Golden office toll-free at 1-866-870-4188. You can also contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.