After telling British Columbians they had no plans to impose a Harmonized Sales Tax, the B.C. Liberal government turned around after the election and announced a new sales tax that will cost consumers billions of dollars.
On July 1, the HST will take effect and the B.C. Liberal deception will be complete.
Jan. 23, 2009: Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty publicly confirms he is considering moving to the HST. (See: http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_31312.aspx )
March 10, 2009: The Ontario government signs a memorandum of understanding to implement the HST.
April 23, 2009: Gordon Campbell tells voters during the provincial election leaders’ radio debate the deficit will be $495 million “maximum.”
Late April/Early May, 2009: B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Colin Hansen is told by his deputy minister that provincial government revenues are down by about $200 – $300 million.
May, 2009: The B.C. Liberals state in two separate election surveys that they “have no plans to formally engage the federal government in discussions about potential harmonization”, noting that doing so “would extend the PST tax base to a broader range of goods and services that are presently exempt from provincial sales tax” which would be “a major concern.”
May 15, 2009: Three days after the election, Ministry of Finance officials contact the federal government inquiring about the harmonization of the sales tax.
May 24, 2009: Hansen has “water cooler chat” with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty inquiring about an HST for B.C.
June 10, 2009: Hansen repeats claim that the provincial deficit will be “$495 million or less.”
July 9, 2009: Hansen admits for the first time that he is not optimistic “that a $495 million number is anywhere near possible.”
July 23, 2009: Campbell and Hansen catch consumers and industry by surprise by suddenly announcing the HST.
Sept. 1, 2009: Hansen introduces a budget with a $2.8 billion deficit, nearly six times larger than the promise made during the election.
March 2, 2010: In a desperate attempt to make the HST more popular, during the B.C. Liberals’ budget speech, Finance Minister Colin Hansen makes the ludicrous claim that government will “allocate every dollar of revenue from [the HST] to health care.” No one takes the claim seriously, and this talking point quickly disappears.
March 30, 2010: The B.C. Liberals introduce HST legislation. In a feeble attempt to obscure what the legislation is about, they name it the Consumption Tax Rebate and Transition Act. Over the coming weeks, all 35 New Democrat MLAs stand up in the legislature and speak out in opposition to the HST-enabling legislation.
April 6, 2010: Citizens’ initiative petition officially launched.
April 29, 2010: Not wanting to hear any more opposition to the HST, the B.C. Liberal government shuts down debate on the HST-enabling legislation, and forces it through. New Democrat MLAs vote against the HST, while all B.C. Liberals present vote in favour of the legislation. Premier Gordon Campbell is absent.
June 11, 2010: After voting in favour of the HST a few weeks earlier, B.C. Liberal Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Blair Lekstrom resigns from cabinet and the B.C. Liberal caucus saying, “I believe it would be prudent to bring the move toward the HST to a halt.”
June 26, 2010: An Ipsos Reid poll shows 78 per cent of B.C. residents still oppose the HST.
June 30, 2010: Citizens’ initiative petition delivered to Elections BC.
July 1, 2010: The HST slated to be implemented. According to Statistics Canada, the average B.C. household will now pay $521 more each year.
Aug. 11, 2010: Deadline for Elections B.C. to determine whether citizens’ initiative is successful.
Carole James and the New Democrats will continue to hold the B.C. Liberals to account for their HST doublecross and the $1.9 billion tax shift on to the backs of consumers.