Premier Campbell may be saying that he will honour a simple majority in the upcoming referendum on HST, but the Premier’s word is not enough assurance, says Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
The decision by the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives to send the HST question to a referendum has caused a furore amongst anti-HST activists and evoked a promise from the Premier that he will not require that the established benchmarks in the Recall and Initiative Act be reached. He promises that he will cancel the HST based on a simple majority.
“I’d like to take the Premier at his word, that he will cancel the HST if the majority of participants reject the HST, but unfortunately we also took him at his word prior to the election when he said he wouldn’t implement the HST,” said Macdonald.
Macdonald is calling on the Premier to recall the Legislature to provide a legislative change removing the much more arduous requirements for referendum currently in the legislation.
“Under the current legislation it is nearly impossible to meet the requirements, and even if you do succeed the result is simply that the proposed HST Extinguishment Act will to be put before the House. The referendum becomes simply a stalling tactic.”
The current legislation also allows the Premier and his cabinet to establish the referendum question which could result in manipulation of the process.
“If Premier Campbell really cared what people thought, and wanted to act on the will of the people, he would have been honest about his intentions before the last election.”
The Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives had two choices: either to recommend that the draft bill be introduced in the Legislature or to refer the initiative petition and the draft bill to the Chief Electoral Officer to hold an initiative vote on September 24, 2011.
In order to be successful, an initiative vote requires 50% of the total number of registered voters province-wide plus 50% of the total number of registered voters in at least 2/3 of BC’s electoral districts.
A successful initiative vote means the bill would have to be introduced to the Legislature at the earliest practicable opportunity, with no requirement that it progress to second reading.
Cabinet will set the regulations regarding the initiative vote, including the ballot question and specifics around voting opportunities.