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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
UPDATED: All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to wind, weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Metchosin council introduced a bylaw at a special council meeting Wednesday, which, if approved, would limit further subdivision of a 40-acre portion of the Boys and Girls Club property. The proposed bylaw amendment will come to public hearing on March 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Metchosin council introduces bylaw to limit subdivision of Boys and Girls Club property

Proposed bylaw amendment will come to public hearing on March 15

The Habitat Acquisition Trust has secured a biodiverse 23-hectare parcel of land in Highlands through a donation from Anne and Jim Ganns, who owned the property for 50 years. (Photo by Jeremy Da Silva/Courtesy Habitat Acquisition Trust)
23-hectare land donation in Highlands extends permanent habitat protection

Anne and Jim Ganns pass on property purchased 50 years ago to the Habitat Acquisition Trust

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

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

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s new Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
‘Stay local’: Dr. Henry shoots down spring break travel for British Columbians

B.C. is reportedly working with other provincial governments to determine March break policies

Most Read