Protecting the economy in rural communities is the last thing on the minds of the BC Liberals based on the proposals put forward in Tuesday’s Throne Speech, says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
“I had expected, in this time of economic crisis, that there would be a number of items put forward in the speech to attempt to improve our economic situation,” Macdonald said in a statement issued today (Thursday, Aug. 27). “But instead, the only substantive piece of economic policy championed was an additional tax that could cripple a primary industry in my communities.”
The Throne Speech focused heavily on the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), a tax that the BC Liberals claimed — prior to the election — to be against. Since then, however, Premier Campbell says the HST is “the most significant economic development initiative that BC can undertake.”
But key players in the tourism and hospitality industry, one of the largest economic sectors in the riding, are saying that the new HST will be catastrophic, devastating and ruinous.
“Local tourism and restaurant owners are telling me that the implementation of the HST could result in the closure of their businesses. Rather than working to support our tourism industry, this government is recklessly pushing ahead with this poorly thought through tax.”
The other important economic driver in rural communities is forestry but again there was nothing to offer laid-off forest workers and no plan to get them back to work, Macdonald said.
“It’s almost like rural BC doesn’t exist,” he said. “I listened closely to the speech and the only mention that I heard of Interior communities was in reference to the Olympics. And I don’t think there is anyone who believes that rural communities can depend on the Olympics to turn our economy around.”