Opinion Column

HST and politics that spawned it are dead

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Lawn signs set up during the anti-HST rally in Vancouver, BC. June 11,  2011. (CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)

Lawn signs set up during the anti-HST rally in Vancouver, BC. June 11, 2011. (CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)

If Premier Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal MLAs don’t listen to the people and drop the HST, he and his party are finished. — Former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, April 1, 2010

Three years to the day of that warning from Fight HST leader Bill Vander Zalm, the Harmonized Sales Tax is finished, Gordon Campbell is finished and in six weeks most BC Liberal MLAs will be finished.

On April 1 the despised HST that shifted $2 billion annually in taxes from big business onto the back of consumers will finally disappear.

While an extra 7% levy was put on hundreds of services for consumers, businesses received massive tax credits — paid for out of your pocket.

So killing the HST means 7% less tax on home renovations, domestic airline tickets, taxi fares, basic telephone and cable, massage therapy, vitamins and hundreds more items.

That tax shift doomed the HST even more than the underhanded way it was introduced.

Campbell exited B.C. politics and the country as Canada’s most disapproved premier. And, after the May 14 provincial election, most BC Liberal MLAs who imposed the tax will be history — either afraid to run or likely defeated, with their party at just 28% in the latest Angus Reid poll versus 48% for the NDP.

But the HST will cast a shadow longer even than the election results.

No provincial politician, from BC Premier Christy Clark to NDP Leader Adrian Dix to future premiers, can ever consider drastically betraying the trust of voters by reneging on campaign promises after an election.

But the Fight HST campaign — where I was strategist — to get and win a referendum proves that government and big business advertising is no match for angry citizens and grassroots rebellion.

The BC Liberal Party told both the home building and restaurant industries it wasn’t contemplating an HST before the election.

But ordinary consumers were the most negatively affected, with estimates on the average annual extra cost per household ranging from $350 to $2,000 or more.

The HST legislation proved to be what NDP MLA Leonard Krog described as “the longest political suicide note in provincial history”.

Those BC Liberal MLAs who supported the HST right to the bitter end will learn the true price of the HST on election day.

 This column marks my eighth year at 24 Hours Vancouver — thanks to all my readers!


Read more Tieleman at billtieleman.blogspot.ca/ Email: mailto:weststar@telus.netweststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman






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