How will you vote on the HST?

David F. Rooney

By now most of us should have received our ballots for the Harmonized Sales Tax Referendum. How you vote will determine not only whether you favour the tax but, most importantly, your level of trust in the BC Liberals.

Judging by what the BC Liberals and its friends are saying, this referendum is about little more than whether or not you, the people of British Columbia, want the HST.

That’s true… to a point. For me and I suspect for many other people this is really more about whether we can trust the governing BC Liberal party than anything else. Speaking personally, I was a member of the BC Liberal party until — lo and behold — a tax they they suggested during the 2009 general election would not be implemented suddenly was given life by then-Premier Gordon Campbell. Like many people I felt betrayed. I was personally convinced that they had lied to us. My disillusionment was compounded by the sudden and drastic funding cuts to arts and community groups and I expressed my dismay by publicly burning my BC Liberal Party card in front of City Hall. (Click here to watch the video)

Gordon Campbell is gone now, of course. But his successor and former minions would still have us believe that

By now, most of us should have our HST Referendum ballots. Are you ready to vote? Revelstoke Current photo illustration

the issue is one of taxation. It is not. The real issue is one of public trust in our political leaders. That is why I cannot and will not vote to keep the HST.

The Liberals have to earn my trust as a voter as well as the trust of millions of other British Columbians. Spending $15 million to finance a pro-HST campaign is not the way to do that. Nor is the wording of a referendum question that is almost certain to confuse some people.

People who signed the petition demanding the repeal of the HST last year did so knowing what they were doing. They were demanding it be canned. The current question asks them, instead, to affirm that they are “in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Gods and Services Tax).”

Many people, I am sure, may not read this subtle question as carefully as they might and will think that by voting “Yes” they are actually asking to keep it. They might, in their anger, vote “No,” thereby actually tossing a ballot onto the government’s side of the question.

So here are a couple of handy tips:

  • If you want to get rid of the HST please vote YES; or
  • If you want to keep it and trust the Liberals that they might someday lower it to 10 per cent, please vote NO.

Then there are all the little hoops you must leap through:

  1. First you MUST place your ballot inside the so-called Secrecy Envelope;
  2. Then, you MUST sign the so-called Certification Envelope and provide your birthdate along with your phone number. If some helped you fill out your ballot you MUST provide their name on the front of the Certification Envelope; and
  3. Thirdly, you MUST place the Certification Envelope inside the yellow HST Referendum Ballot Package and either mail it to Elections BC (NO postage is required) or drop it off at the Service BC counter at the Courthouse. Elections BC or Service BC MUST receive your ballot before 4:30 pm on Friday, August 5 (that is an extension from the July 22 deadline that appears on everyone’s ballot package).

Your failure to follow this process to the letter could conceivably result in your ballot being disqualified. Please don’t allow that to happen.

Regardless of what you may think of the HST and the BC Liberals or those who oppose them please vote in this referendum.