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

O’Reilly trial scheduled to start January 15 for Anahim Lake murders

O’Reilly is charged with first-degree murder

School District 49 to re-open Nusatsum Elementary in September 2018

SD49 says increasing enrollment is driving its decision to re-open the school

Red Cross funding available to local residents of Bella Coola and Hagensborg

The Red Cross is administering up to $900 in initial funding to help assist Bella Coola Valley residents

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Most Read