MPs about face on HST 0
Wrongs are often forgiven; contempt never.
- Lord Chesterfield, 1694-1773
Opposition parties defeated the federal government by voting that the Stephen Harper Conservatives were in "contempt of parliament" for not releasing information on the cost of fighter jets and crime legislation.
But when it comes to a key political issue in B.C. - the Harmonized Sales Tax - both the Liberals and Conservatives have been in contempt of voters.
When ex-premier Gordon Campbell announced the tax in July 2009 the public reacted with anger. They were upset at paying an extra seven per cent on restaurant food, basic telephone and cable TV, domestic airline tickets, sports and entertainment events, home renos and repairs and more.
In reaction, Fight HST, a group created by former premier Bill Vander Zalm, ex-Unity Party leader Chris Delaney and myself, collected 557,383 valid voter signatures for Canada's first successful citizens Initiative petition.
That forced the B.C. Liberal government to promise a binding referendum on the HST. It will now be held by mail ballot from mid-June to July 22.
And Liberal MPs in B.C. were very happy to jump on the anti-HST bandwagon.
"Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are pushing a Harmonized Sales Tax hike on B.C. that . will only hurt ordinary British Columbians," Vancouver South MP Ujjal Dosanjh wrote in a flyer to constituents.
Newton-North Delta Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal did the same in his winter 2009 constituency report.
"Harper has added the Harmonized Sales Tax to the burden of B.C. families already struggling to make it through this difficult economic period," he said.
But Dosanjh and Dhaliwal voted in Parliament to impose the HST on B.C. -because Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff ordered his MPs to do so.
Dhaliwal said he agreed with Ignatieff's position. "We have to look professional ... not opportunist," he said, presumably with a straight face.
But the Conservatives are hypocrites too.
Harper boasted about cutting the Goods and Services Tax from seven per cent down to five per cent.
"Under our government, taxes are headed only one direction: down," Harper claimed in 2007.
But his government voted to send taxes in only one direction - up - when it imposed the HST on B.C. two years later.
Surrey North Conservative MP Dona Cadman told constituents she would oppose the HST, but instead went missing when the vote took place.
Jack Layton and NDP MPs should also be held to account for their own bad decisions - but when it comes to the HST, his caucus have been completely consistent - they voted against it and the still want to get rid of it.
Regardless of your position on the HST, one clear definition of contempt is telling voters one thing and doing the exact opposite afterwards. Rather unforgiveable.