Yesterday in Victoria, 1PM at the Legislature building, did convene the first meeting of the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Intitiatives. They are a committee of six BC Liberal backbenchers and 4 seasoned NDP MLAs. They are tasked with deciding how to proceed with the the HST Extinguishment Act in BC.
You might ask yourself, why should you care? The Harmonized Sales Tax has already been implemented in the Maritmes and Ontario. There seemed to be very little notice paid by the public in those instances. It has, in fact, been implemented in BC since July 1st. A fait accompli. What’s got British Columbians so up in arms on this issue? Well, everywhere else that the tax was implemented, it was voted on and passed in the Legislature. That was not the case in BC. Here, the Liberals (and I use that term loosely), introduced the bill on the last sitting day of the Leg. and rammed it through with Closure, it never came to a vote.
The people of BC narrowly returned Gordon Campbell’s Liberals to office in 2009, based on his pre election budget deficit of $495 million and his promise that the HST was not on his radar. Recent FOI documents show that clearly, they were, in fact, right on his desk. And the deficit suddenly grew to a record 2.5 billion following the election. That was essentially the last straw for BC voters. It started with a facebook group administered by Bill Tieleman that snowballed into a Fight HST website and campaign with the help of former Socred Premiere Bill VanderZalm.
I volunteered in that campaign collecting signatures on the petition, along with well over 6,000 other British Columbians. Statistically, I needed 69 signatures. I got over 200 without even trying. It was an educational experience for me, people lined up to sign my petition, they spoke passionately about their reasons for doing so. The fact is Gordon Campbell seriously miscalculated his position with voters. Understandable on his part, since he’s been lying with impunity to the people of BC since 2001, when he was elected with a mandate to NOT privatize BC Rail. After his election, that first time, he quietly set about cooking the books at BC Rail and selling off the most lucrative parts of the business. For comprehensive background on that ongoing political corruption trial, please see The Legislature Raids . This website has a long list of factual information on the state of the judicial system in BC as well.
I believe that this historic day in BC is relevant to all progressive people in Canada because you too can insist on a Recall and Initiative Act in your province and indeed, federally as well, so that when our elected representatives start behaving in any way like dictators, to the point where people reach critical mass and start to congregate in a meaningful way, they have a forum, a voice that extends past empty election promises and into OUR House. Pay attention in BC as we make history and hopefully see justice done.