Vander Zalm bypasses Chief Electoral Officer, submits petition directly to Select Standing Committee for Legislative Initiatives

Fight HST leader and Initiative proponent Bill Vander Zalm says that given Elections BC’s refusal to follow clear legislation outlining its responsibilities, his group has decided to submit the successful Initiative petition and draft Bill to End the HST directly  to the Select Standing Committee for Legislative Initiatives so that the process can continue.

Kootenay-Columbia MLA Norm Macdonald said Friday he was mystified by the acting Chief Electoral Officer’s refusal to formally pass the valid petition to the committee.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said. “The Chief Electoral officer offered no reasons for refusing to pass it on as he should have done.”

Vander Zalm said acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James’ refusal to forward the successful petition is against the legislation. As a result, he says he was forced to submit it to the Standing Committee himself.

“The Initiative Act is very clear. It says the CEO must send a copy of the petition and draft Bill to the Select Standing Committee. And he must do it upon his determination that the petition met the requirements of the Act. This has been done. Therefore, it is not an option on whether he may submit the petition or not,” Vander Zalm explained.

Following is Section 10 of the Act, outlining the CEO’s duties:

Referral of initiative to select standing committee

10 If the chief electoral officer determines in accordance with the regulations that

(a) the initiative petition meets the requirements of section 7, and [the 10% threshold]

(b) the proponent has complied with Part 4,[Initiative spending ]

the chief electoral officer must send a copy of the petition and draft Bill to the select standing committee.

Vander Zalm says the petition does not belong to the CEO, but to the people, and the legislature is the only body directly answerable to the people. “Therefore, we have sent a copy of the CEO’s ruling validating the petition, as well as the draft Bill – “The HST Extinguishment Act” to the head of the Select Standing Committee, Mr. Terry Lake, as well as the other members of the committee.”

Vander Zalm says there is nothing in the Initiative Act preventing a third party from submitting the petition to the Select Standing Committee, and that since the CEO will not comply with the Act, his group was morally bound to make the submission instead.

“The law requires the Select Standing Committee upon receipt of the petition  to meet on or before September 12, 2010. They must then to make a determination on whether to put the draft Bill to the legislature for a vote, or to return it to the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct a non-binding, province wide “Initiative Vote.”

Duty of select standing committee

11 (1) The select standing committee must, within 30 days of receiving a copy of the initiative petition and draft Bill under section 10, meet to consider the initiative petition and draft Bill.

(2) The select standing committee must, within 90 days of the date of its first meeting,

(a) table a report recommending that the draft Bill be introduced at the earliest practicable opportunity, or

(b) refer the initiative petition and draft Bill to the chief electoral officer.

“We have lost confidence that the CEO can be relied upon to carry out his duties faithfully and impartially. For that reason, and the fact that a non-binding Initiative Vote is a waste of time and money, we are instructing the BC Government that we will accept only one option – a free vote taken immediately in the legislature, resulting in the repeal of the HST,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm pointed out that anything less than the extinguishment of the HST will result in Recalls launched against all 46 sitting members of the BC Government.

“The people have spoken, and it is time for the government to listen. We have had enough of their games and slippery maneuvers.  We will not let the people be denied justice on their petition,” Vander Zalm promised.