Our View: Tax policy rejection portends election

Let’s face it, the HST referendum and debate wasn’t really over an unpopular tax.
People didn’t vote to get rid of it because they loved the PST-GST combination, much less preferred the way it was administered.

Let’s face it, the HST referendum and debate wasn’t really over an unpopular tax.

People didn’t vote to get rid of it because they loved the PST-GST combination, much less preferred the way it was administered.

It was, like so many elections fought over the years, a vote of confidence in or lack thereof in the government and its policies.

What the resulting vote to extinguish the HST  indicates is that the Liberals’ time in power in British Columbia, unless some very drastic steps are taken to woo voters, is fast coming to a close.

The HST referendum acted as a kind of dry run to the provincial election. It had very similar elements to a political campaign: dislike for the current government, fanned by the way the combined tax was introduced; an ambitious politician anxious to champion the cause of the so-called “working people” – Bill Vander Zalm; and a simple method of changing things: vote against it.

The HST had pockets of support: Oak Bay-Gordon Head residents voted to keep it. But those in NDP-held constituencies overwhelmingly chose to get rid of it.

Regardless whether peoples’ reasoning for voting for or against the HST was sound – the complexities of tax policy are lost on most people – it was based on trust.

While many have celebrated the result, we all need to brace for the aftermath. The province, having committed to restoring previous PST exemptions and looking at $360 million less in tax revenue annually, will immediately seek ways to make up the difference – the Liberals have no appetite for operating deficits.

By the time the province returns to the GST-PST combo in 2013, the B.C. government will have spent hundreds of millions backtracking and recreating tax infrastructure. Then there’s the point of repaying $1.6 billion to the feds.

The ironic part of this “people’s referendum” is that we may well have put the Liberals in a similar financial mess to the one they inherited from the NDP back in 2001.

Just Posted

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Oak Bay double murder trial enters second week

Defence continues to question police handling of crime scene

Volunteers needed for annual Mother’s Day walk

Breast Cancer Society of Canada hosts annual Mother’s Day event

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Most Read