Editor: British Columbians are facing what I predict will be the most important referendum in our history. The people will decide what happens to the HST. They will decide whether to say “yes” to a PST plus GST at 12 per cent or say “no” and keep the HST at 10 per cent.
I am very concerned, as are many of my Langley constituents, that some people will vote based on misinformation and/or anger at the way the tax was introduced.
We know we did a terrible job bringing in the HST. When people signed the petition it was because they wanted us to listen to them. Our new premier, Christy Clark, made sure we did.
More than 275,000 people took part in our tele-town halls. They spoke directly to the Finance Minister and other cabinet ministers and told us what they wanted us to do. We listened, and we’ve done what they’ve asked.
We are dropping the HST rate to 10 per cent and we are giving cheques to families and seniors to cover their added HST in the meantime. We’re also raising corporate tax rates to make sure everyone pays their fair share.
As expected, those changes don’t satisfy everyone. Bill Vander Zalm (the same man who brought in the Property Transfer Tax when he was premier) is still selling his anti-HST message with false and misleading information. He claims that by ending the HST, the average family will save money. That’s just not true.
Now that we’ve changed it, the average family will save about $120 a year with HST compared to the old GST plus PST system. That’s on top of the $175 families will receive for each child under 18.
Vander Zalm and his Fight HST folks don’t want you to know about what will happen if we return to the old 12 per cent GST plus PST system. First, it would cost us roughly $3 billion. Government will have to raise that money somewhere or else cut services. Second, low income families and seniors would no longer receive their $230 HST rebate cheques.
Vander Zalm and Fight HST can’t explain why a 12 per cent GST plus PST is better for British Columbians than a 10 per cent HST. In their ‘April Truth Report’ they actually admit that the PST “may not be the best tax.”
Let’s be clear, this is not a choice between a 10 per cent HST or nothing. This is a choice between a 10 per cent HST or a 12 per cent PST plus GST. That new HST rate is guaranteed because it has now been set in law by both the provincial and federal governments. Vander Zalm doesn’t want you to know that.
When the ballots arrive, I hope people will give a lot of thought to the consequences of their vote. I hope they will put aside their anger and make an informed decision.
If you’re confused by the referendum question, you may want to take it up with Fight HST. The wording was taken from their petition.
Mary Polak, MLA,