B.C.’s provincial government intends to create a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) by merging the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) with the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST). The merged tax will be 12%, but will have many fewer exemptions than the current PST does. Bicycles, safety equipment, school supplies, energy efficient technologies, and restaurant meals are some highlights from the long list of things will go from being taxed at 5% to being taxed at 12%. Unusually, groups from across the political spectrum have offered outspoken opposition to the HST, from left-of-centre groups who believe sales taxes are socially regressive, to right-of-centre groups such as the National Citizens’ Coalition who point out that increasing sales tax burden through harmonisation has never been successfully attempted during an economic downturn and may kill any economic recovery in British Columbia (and in Ontario which is planning to go down the same path). Polls indicate that a strong majority of British Columbians, between 80% and 90%, are opposed to merging the PST with the GST to create an HST in our province.

The main website for opposition to BC’s HST is at fighthst.com and has a wealth of information on it. Opponents of the HST are organising to fight it on two fronts: the first is a citizen’s initiative petition, sponsored by former premier Bill Vander Zalm, that if it attracts enough signatures will seek to compel the provincial government to abandon the HST, or hold a referenum before introducing it; the second attempt would use provincial recall legislation to remove members of the provincial legislature that vote in favour of the HST, as a prelude to a vote to repeal it after the fact. Langford is in the Juan de Fuca riding, and our MLA (John Horgan) has stated his opposition to the HST, so the citizen’s initiative is how people in our area can get involved in opposing it.

To be successful, a citizen’s initiative petition must get signatures of 10% of all the voters in each riding in the province. There will be a citizen’s initiative petition against the HST this year, and for it to succeed local volunteers in each riding will need to help collect signatures in their riding. Our riding of Juan de Fuca includes The Highlands, Langford, Metchosin, East Sooke, Sooke, and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

To get involved in the local effort (whether in a big way or a small way), please email me or call me at 250 885 0717.

Steven Hurdle