No means yes to B.C. government

Do you want to keep the Harmonized Sales Tax? Yes. Then say No.

No means yes to B.C. government

Do you want to keep the Harmonized Sales Tax?

Yes.

Then say No.

No means Yes?

In B.C. it does.

Where are Abbot and Costello when we need them? British Columbians are confused about their pending Yes and No HST referendum votes.

In a new Ipsos Reid poll, 55 per cent say the wording of the HST question is confusing. Of the other 45 per cent who figured they understood the question, 10 per cent placed their ‘X’ in the wrong box.

It gets worse. Before being told the actual referendum question, respondents were asked for their top-of-mind understanding of what a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vote means. More than 20 per cent incorrectly said a ‘Yes’ vote means keeping the HST and a ‘No’ vote means killing it.

Given the fact that the ballots are in the mail, this is not encouraging news.

How did we get in this pickle? It starts with the massive wave of righteous indignation that grew out of former premier Gordon Campbell’s betrayal of his 2009 election promise not to tinker with the PST/GST.

In April 2010, Elections BC gave Bill Vander Zalm’s anti-HST army approval to begin collecting signatures. The petition was submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer in June. Of the 713,883 signatures gathered, 557,383 were valid and the threshold achieved.

In September 2010, a committee of the Legislature referred the initiative results along with a draft HST Extinguishment Act to the Chief Electoral Officer enabling him to conduct a vote under the Recall and Initiative Act. Because the exercise was framed as an initiative to eliminate the tax, the referendum question had to be crafted to reflect the negation. And, so we got this:

“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 or No.

Think of it this way: if you do not want to return to the old PST/GST system, mark ‘No.’ If you hate the HST and want be rid of it mark ‘Yes.’

Two other elements of this battle are confusing.

The government is framing the decision as returning to a 12 per cent PST/GST or endorsing a new HST regime of only 10 per cent. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon is trumpeting this tax break like it’s happening now when it won’t be a reality for two long years.

The Opposition isn’t helping either. NDP leader Adrian Dix — between a rock and a hard place arguing for an antiquated 12 per cent PST/GST — can only urge us not to trust Falcon’s HST “fixes” including cheques for families with kids and corporate tax increases along with the staged reduction to 10 per cent.

Given the fact that Campbell’s tax betrayal ended his mandate and almost ruined his governing party, Dix’s conspiracy theory is utterly stupid and disingenuous.

The other thing the NDP does not want to discuss is how they would fiscally manage the retreat to the PST/GST if elected next fall or next spring. Besides putting the bankers in chains, how are they going to repay Ottawa’s $1.6 billion HST transition grant? How will they afford to rehire 300 tax collectors? How will they managed the loss of confidence in the business sector?

Perhaps they don’t really expect to get elected. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

Most Read