June mail-in vote on keeping HST

Attorney General Barry Penner

The B.C. government has chosen the quickest, cheapest way of deciding whether to scrap the harmonized sales tax, Attorney General Barry Penner says.

In a statement released Friday, Penner said the B.C. Liberal cabinet is moving ahead with a mail-in vote on the HST with a target date of June 24. Premier Christy Clark campaigned for the leadership on an early vote, and the government expects to save more than half of the $30 million cost of an in-person vote.

“Moving to a mail-in ballot is expected to save taxpayers $18 million and address potential voter fatigue” with a federal election now expected in May, Penner said.

In proceeding early under the Referendum Act, the government is taking over a process started by former premier Bill Vander Zalm. His Fight HST organization gathered more than 500,000 signatures to pass B.C.’s first-ever initiative petition last year, forcing a review of the tax.

Vander Zalm was conciliatory when he was told of the government’s decision.

“I’m impressed with what the premier has done,” Vander Zalm said. “She’s keeping her promise of an earlier vote. The mail-in ballot is fine with me, as long as the majority of the people have an opportunity to participate.”

Clark also followed through with a promise to fund both sides of the campaign to decide the fate of the HST.

Vander Zalm said he is concerned about how much the “big business lobby” will be allowed to spend to persuade people to keep the tax, which expands the former provincial sales tax to a range of previously exempt services.

The Referendum Act gives the cabinet wide latitude to set the spending limits and other terms of a vote. Details of the referendum will be released later in a cabinet order, Penner said.

The referendum question will use the wording proposed by Elections B.C., which is supervising the vote:

“Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)? Yes/No.”

 

Just Posted

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Most Read