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

Casual car show will put the drive into food drive

Port Alberni’s Cars and Coffee will wrap up with a food drive in September

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Port Alberni bands ‘out of the basement’ and onto an album

Two bands, products of the Alberni Valley’s school of rock, celebrate their CD debut

Stephen Novik takes the mic at Words on Fire in Port Alberni

Event takes place Aug. 29 at Char’s Landing

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Most Read