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War of words increases in HST battle 0

JEHNIFER BEHNOIT, QMI AGENCY
Fight HST organizer Gabriel Yiu speaks about the theft and vandalism of Fight HST signs during a news conference in Vancouver, Tuesday. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Fight HST organizer Gabriel Yiu speaks about the theft and vandalism of Fight HST signs during a news conference in Vancouver, Tuesday. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

The gloves are off and it's getting dirty.

In one corner, Premier Christy Clark and her message to keep the HST. In the other are HST haters who want to see the harmonized tax killed have taken the war of words to a new level by accusing the governing party of political chicanery.

Within two hours of each other Tuesday, each side came swinging in an effort to sway the outcome of a mail-in referendum that started dropping into B.C. mailboxes this week.

"You can mark no on your ballot if you want lower taxes and a

10 per cent HST, or you can vote yes for higher taxes and a 12 per cent PST/GST," said Clark in a press conference Tuesday, trying to end the confusion over the ballot question.

Clark also noted that law now backs her Liberal government's promise after Ottawa amended federal regulations governing B.C.'s HST rate.

"The government of Canada made this the law on Friday. They agreed to reduce the HST to 10 per cent by July 1, 2014, if British

Columbians agree in the referendum to keep the HST."

On the flip side, Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman spoke to media two hours later about the "vote yes to extinguish the HST" campaign and revealed a new twist to the fight. He accused the pro-HST side of playing dirty politics.

"Over 100 signs have been stolen (in the Fraserview riding) in what appears to be organized fashion and a deliberate intent to take away people's voices in the HST referendum.

"We are facing multimillion dollar advertising from the government . . . it's disconcerting when people are taking away our signs."

The referendum question is: "Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)?" Elections BC will announce the result in August.


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