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

Two week lock down lifted for Kent Institution

A search at the prison found nearly 26 grams of hashish and a cellphone

Harrison Hot Springs to partner with Sts’ailes for reconciliation event

The event will be funded by a grant meant to build dialogue between cities and local First Nations

Chilliwack vintage shop swings open doors at new location

Marion’s Dressing Room the newest place to shop on Mill Street

Agassiz-Harrison Museum showcases refreshed galleries, exhibits

The museum opened for the season on the May long weekend

Ryan McMahon brings new tunes to Acoustic Emporium in Chilliwack

Album is ‘snapshot of a soon-to-be middle-aged man trying to beat the blues,’ says singer-songwriter

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7 million to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

UBC prof says report citing $89B home equity loss a ‘grassroots movement of the rich’

Report says longtime homeowners are being taxed out of their homes by the NDP

RCMP target speeders between Abbotsford and Surrey in month-long blitz

Officers throughout the province launch Swoop campaign

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

TransLink fares to go up on July 1

Fares will increase by a few cents to a few dollars

Roadside device to weed out THC can’t detect impairment, B.C. lawyer says

‘This fact alone is likely to have serious implications for Canadians’ Charter Rights,’ lawyer Sarah Leamon warns

Most Read