HST phone forums get underway

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom

The B.C. government’s outreach on the harmonized sales tax gets underway tonight with telephone town hall meetings for Surrey and the Peace River region, the first of a series of regional forums that aims to ring every listed home phone in B.C.

The first forum was set for Tuesday evening in the southern coast and northern Vancouver Island, but it was postponed because of the Vancouver Canucks playoff game. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, who will take questions at the Surrey forum starting at 7:15 tonight, said further changes may be made to avoid calling people during Canucks games.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom is in the hotseat for tonight’s forum in the Peace River region, his home base. Lekstrom has been given a high profile in the government’s HST effort since returning to the B.C. Liberal caucus after quitting last year due to his constituents’ protests over the introduction of the HST.

Lekstrom said Wednesday he expects to get questions about the workings of the HST, and also some of the objections that have battered the B.C. Liberal government since the tax was introduced.

But after people have lived with the HST for nearly 10 months, Lekstrom said he is more optimistic it will be supported in a mail-in referendum set to begin in mid-June. He credits Premier Christy Clark’s effort to give the public a say.

“The willingness to go out and engage the public in these telephone town hall meetings, the opportunity to have their views heard, is exactly what should have happened 18 months ago,” Lekstrom said.

Lekstrom and Falcon will be sharing the telephone town hall duties until all regions have had a turn. People with listed home phones will hear a recorded message inviting them to participate, followed by instructions to ask a question. If they don’t want to take part, they can hang up.

Subject to change as the Vancouver Canucks playoff run continues, the schedule is as follows:

Peace River region, tonight, 6:30 p.m.

Surrey, tonight, 7:15 p.m.

Kootenay, April 28, 6:30 p.m. (7:30 Mountain time)

Richmond-South Delta and North Shore, April 28, 7:15 p.m.

Southern Interior, May 3, 6:45 p.m.

Victoria, May 3, 7:15 p.m.

Northern Interior and North Coast, May 4, 6:45 p.m.

Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, New Westminster, Coquitlam, May 4, 7:15 p.m.

Okanagan, May 9, 6:45 p.m.

Fraser Valley, May 9, 7:15 p.m.

Vancouver, May 12, 6:45 p.m.

Calls for May 3, 4, 9 and 12 may be moved due to Canucks games. Updates can be found here.

Just Posted

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

UPDATE: Chilliwack man arrested for Agassiz break and enters

Westin Ferguson, 19, faces charges relating to break and enters throughout Agassiz

Short closures on Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge during pier upgrades

The project comes before the major retrofit of the bridge, which has been in the works since 2017

Preliminary inquiry starts for Chilliwack woman charged in 2016 fatal hit-and-run

Linnea Labbee, 70, accused in Dec. 1, 2016 incident that killed 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read