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

Esquimalt gives six-storey rental complex the green light

A new apartment building is set to go up on Admirals Road

Light up August with a lantern building workshop in Sidney

ArtSea workshops in preparation for Aug. 24 Salish Sea Lantern Festival

Colwood field lacrosse camp aims to get more kids involved

Victoria Field Youth Lacrosse hopes to inspire future athletes

WATCH: Our Place Therapeutic Recovery Community turns into a ‘place of healing’

500 volunteers, 120 businesses worked to transform View Royal community

A party for 11 pups and their adoptive families in Beckwith Park in Saanich

The coonhound siblings reunited at a barbeque on Saturday

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Most Read