Is the HST a “done deal?” Not a chance, says Vander Zalm

David F. Rooney

Ignoring a tsunami of public protest and rising numbers of signatures on Bill Vander Zalm’s Citizen’s Initiative Petition, the BC Liberals have rammed through their legislation enabling the hated Harmonized Sales tax.

But don’t let that fool you, says Vander Zalm.

“They said the HST was a done deal when they signed the agreement with Ottawa nine months ago,” says the former premier.”Then they said it was a done deal in December when Ottawa passed the federal legislation in Parliament. Now, they’re saying it is a done deal with the legislation removing the PST this past week. But what they aren’t telling people is that what can be enacted by government, can be repealed,.”

Vander Zalm, whose Fight HST organization is the only petition that can actually force the tax to be repealed, said in a statement Sunday that the BC Liberal strategy has been to spread the passage of the HST out as long as they can to try to head off Fight HST’s attempts to stop it. He says his group anticipated this tactic, and that is why his petition is designed to repeal the tax once enacted, rather than trying to prevent it up front.

“By successfully completing the Initiative petition, we will be forcing the government to either vote to cancel the HST Agreement, thereby repealing the HST, or put the question to a province wide referendum, he said.”

Vander Zalm points out that the HST was implemented in Saskatchewan in 1989. Two years after it was brought in, the HST was repealed by a new government, and the provincial sales tax reinstated.

“It’s not rocket science – it’s called democracy. And the HST is not a ‘done deal’ until the people decide it is. Saskatchewan proved that, and we will, too.”

More than 300,000 signatures have been gathered across the province so far, with 5,000 of them coming from Columbia River-Revelstoke. That’s well above 15 per cent in our riding but that doesn’t mean people should stop signing.

Click on this image to see the full-size riding-by-riding progress report in PDF format.

If you haven’t yet signed the petition please do so. The more signatures on it, the better. We don’t want Gordon Campbell and his minions coming back and pooh-poohing it saying, “Oh! It’s only 15 per cent.” Public outrage over the HST must be unmistakeable.

And people are signing the petition. The latest Progress Report from the Vander Zalm campaign shows how well the campaign is doing in most ridings and how poorly in some others. Fortunately, British Columbians have until July 5 to sign the document.

The BC Liberals are certainly feeling the sting of public anger. Colin Hansen’s petulant complaints about Elections BC, which ruled that the government could not wage a pamphlet campaign against the anti-HST petition (click here to read The Globe and Mail story about this), and the transparently weird mutterings of MLA Bill Bennett, click here to read those (which I call weird because he is attempting to claim that Bill Vander Zalm and the Fight HST Campaign are making claims that they are definitely not making. You can see and hear Vander Zalm for yourself on The Current’s two-part video here and here) demonstrate that they feel cornered.

According to MLA Norm Macdonald the government’s insensitivity to public opinion defies understanding
Despite the fact that there are still four weeks left in the Legislative session, debate on the HST legislation is being cut short using closure, he said.

“The implementation of the HST is one of the issues that has raised the most public interest that I can recall in the time that I have been in Victoria,” Macdonald said.  “I can’t remember any issue that has been so thoroughly discussed by the public. I also cannot recall any time that the people have so clearly been against a government action.  Every poll on the issue proves it.”

Bills are passed in the Legislature following a procedure that allows for significant scrutiny of each section of the bill.  The three stages of debate include an opportunity for each member to speak for up to thirty minutes about how that legislation will impact his or her constituents.

The committee stage gives the Opposition time to review, section by section, each aspect of the bill.  This final stage of debate is crucial as it helps to establish the legal interpretation of each definition and clause within the legislation.

Closure was invoked Thursday afternoon leaving the committee stage debate incomplete.

“This bill which will drastically change our tax system contains 213 sections.  Each of those sections needs to be examined yet the BC Liberals shut debate down after only a quarter of those sections had been covered.

“People want to have their say on the HST and now the BC Liberals will not even allow fulsome debate on the legislation.   It’s an attempt on the part of this government to over-ride democracy and I can’t imagine that British Columbians are going to stand for it.”

The bottom line is this: Gordon Campbell and his minions want us to believe that this is a “done deal” and nothing can stop it. They want you to believe that you are powerless. You are not. This petition can be repealed. With enough signatures the government will be forced to pay attention to the wishes of British Columbians and if they choose to ignore us… well, there’s always recall — starting with Gordon.

If you are a registered voter and haven’t yet signed the petition you can do so at one of the following locations in town:

  • Silverline Auto Repair, 770 Lundell Road, 8 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday
  • Spice o’ Life Emporium , 106 Orton Avenue, noon – 7 pm, Monday-Saturday
  • Conversations Coffee House, 205 Mackenzie Ave, 8 am – noon, Monday- Saturday
  • Daspy Fashions, 555 – 9 Victoria Road, 9:30 am – 6 pm Monday-Saturday, 9:30 am – 9 pm on Thursdays
  • Grizzly Book & Serendipity Shop, 208 Mackenzie Avenue, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, Monday-Saturday

Canvasser James Walford also says people who want to sign the petition can stop by his house at 217 4th East or phone him at 250 837 4465 and he’ll go to their house if they can’t get out.

For more information about the campaign please go to or call local petition campaign organizer Jim Daniel at 250-837-2562.